On finishing before you are done

So I’m working up a project for the summer months.  Currently, it’s in partially assembled pieces, as I’m waiting for finish to dry.  Yes, I’m finishing a project.  (This is kind of a running joke with most hobby wood workers: projects completed but finish never gets applied.)  But I’m doing more than just applying finish, I’m applying finish to pieces before they are fully assembled.

 

The benefits to finishing are many.  For starters, if you are making this for sale, it is completed, and you can get paid.  Secondly, you add the final look to the project, whether it’s a matte or satin finish that does not reflect light much, or a high gloss look that begs to be touched.  Third, it applies a cover to those grubby hands that touch the project.  It can also add a layer of protection to the project to withstand things like accidental drops, nudges, scratches, or more.

 

Since the project I’m working on is a basic tool tote for my power tools, the finish doesn’t need to be complex.  This is a shop project, using up some of the plywood stock I had on hand.  This finish needs to be more durable than touchable, so I’m using up some older finishing supplies.  The plywood itself is not all that dramatic, just your basic (ish) cabinet grade 3/4 plywood.  Some minor grain to show off, not much else than that.  But I’m prefinishing for a couple of reasons. 

 

First, I don’t want to have to worry about getting fingers, brushes, sponges, or rags into a tight corner.  Secondly, I get the opportunity to fill some holes I goofed on.  (Again, no project is ever without mistakes.  This time, though, I get to try something different with wood fillers.)  Thirdly, if I want to change the colors, no big deal.  I have plenty of smaller cans of finish that need to be used up and gotten rid of.  (Legacy of finishes from before I expanded my knowledge.)

 

While I’m not filming this process, I’ll show some of the before and after photos once I’m done.  (I don’t have the photos present, otherwise I’d do that now.  That, and the finish hasn’t dried.)  But the reason I have challenges on this is because I’m without a place to let finish dry.  If you are in a similar situation, where your shop does not have a dedicated finish zone, I’ll hopefully provide some tips and tricks for you to try.  But if you do have a zone that does not have traffic, demands on it, or air currents driving dust particles around it while it dries, you have the benefit of letting it sit for a couple of hours (or overnight, in most instances) to let a finish really reach it’s full potential.

 

The reason I rarely finish projects is that I have a hard time justifying the hours on end letting it dry, for a five minute process.  Then again, it is just about perfect for this site, right?

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