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I have a really complex shelf unit that I've designed. I once had a Kreg rep recommend that I stain before assembly to avoid inconsistent finish in the corners, nooks and crannies.  (I use a traditional oil based rubbing stain.)

However, I'd like to glue and pocket hole the joints. Have others tried this? Any trecommendations?

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Well Don I do it all the time and in most case's I also ployurethane them as well the trick is to be careful when you put it to gather and yes glue will work on the stain area just let the glue seed for afow sec.

Hi Don , my practice  is to pocket hole and glue and assemble the project and then add the stain and top coats.  That way any stain or finish will not interfer with the wood cells in the glue up process,  stains and finish products do hinder the way glue will react to the wood cells as they do seal the wood cells.  Think about it if any thing you allow to get on the wood cells where glue is to be applied it  fills cells where glue should go.  Similiar to putting oil on the wood and then using glue over it.  Even thought it dries it still closes wood cells.  Getting an even stain and finish takes practice and patience but is something that is easy to learn.

Something to think about is that if you stain and then glue up any glue that you get on the surface will often not be seen as you assemble the project however time will soon revele any glue that was left in the glue up and will appear as blotches and uneven finished areas.  If glue is on the raw product it will show up as you stain the wood.

One of my methods is to use white vinegar on a rag to remove any glue squeeze out and thus gives you a clean surface to stain.  You can use a misture of 50/50 water and vinegar on any project that is veneered and use full strength on any solid surface.  It will raise the grain so sand or steel wool it after wiping with the mixture.  The acid in the vinegar will cut the glue.  You do this before the glue sets and if you have done a tight joint the vinegar and water will not effect your joint as you should wipe it dry as you remove any remaining glue. 

Another reason for doing the assembly first and then stain is that how are you going to stain the pocket holes in a finished piece without having to add finish to the pocket holes or leave it raw.

 

Over the many years that I have been a woodworker I have done both methods of stain before assembly and stain after assembly.  My preference is definately the stain and finish after assembly as I have always enjoyed this method as it nevers fails to give me superior results.

Thanks for the detailed response, I think the vinegar tip is awesome. I've always had trouble just wiping it away with water.

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