Preparing wood before trying to finishing it is very important. A perfect finish will be destroyed by wood that is not read for the finish. By avoid the pitfalls before you begin, you can avoid the work it will take to correct the finish that does not come out as you had planned.
Generally speaking, I don’t like finish to get on any mating glue surfaces. Using an adhesive like epoxy could certainly work, but for the sake of nice tight joints and a good wood to wood bond, I prefer to leave the joints with no finish at all, even if that means trickier finishing later. A perfect finish is meaningless if the piece falls apart.
The confusing answer to your question is, it depends. As a general rule of thumb, I pre-finish whenever it will be difficult or tedious to finish after assembly. For instance, the inside of a small cabinet or any place where three planes meet. Think of a bookcase where a shelf meets the side and the back. An area like that is a royal pain to finish.
There are two primary methods of smoothing the wood to accept the finish: scraping and sanding. Sanding is the simplest and the one the majority of woodworkers are most familiar with. Scraping, however, takes some practice, and in many cases, a combination of both scraping and sanding is the best.
I too occasionally wipe down my pieces before finishing instead of just blowing off the dust. In just about every way, wiping down is the better method. Blowing the dust off can actually damage the wood if the stream of air is too close to the surface. And not to mention, when you blow the dust off, where does it go? Into the air and back down into your finish.
Finishing woodwork projects can be one of the most frustrating things for most woodworkers. In and effort to find something that is easy to apply and is little affected by the dust in your workshop ... we present Jesse's formula, which by the way isn't really a secret, but once you have tried this technique, consider yourself a member of the Pro Finishers. Its easy to apply and looks fabulous, we think even you will be amazed.
How to Sand Wood for Finishing
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