1. Do you mean applying a finish, such as shellac? There is still quite a bit of work to be done on the panels, so I think that would be a bit premature in this instance. Finishing pre glue up can occasionally be useful when areas are inaccessible after glue up.

      1. My concern is panel shrinkage revealing unfinished wood along the styles and rails. My material stickers in my basement shop where the humidity can vary from %20 in the winter months to %85 in the summer. My home is air conditioned in the summer months, but even then we see %50 humidity, but can drop to %20 during the winter months.

    2. If you mean color, rather than finish, then yes, there can be an advantage. I studied finishing in Charles Neil’s shop, which isn’t too far from me. Since panels expand and contract, you can end up with a light or uncolored line at the edge of the panel if you apply color after assembling the panel and then move the piece to a drier place. Also, if you apply color after assembly, you can get yourself in trouble fussing with the edges of the panel, trying to get color “in there.” So, he will often color the panel before assembly and then sand back the panel face, leaving color on the surround. After assembly, during regular finishing, the whole panel (plus frame) gets hit with color again. Yes, the surround of the panel ends up getting an extra dose of color, which does darken it, but this can actually be a pleasing contrast, if done with control, so that the effect is subtle. “Control,” is the key word here. You need to decide the effect you want and decide whether and where to sand or scrap back after the first color is applied pre-assembly. I’m saying “color” here because I learned mostly to use dye. Stains are different because they carry a binder / finish in them, which will block off subsequent coats and, so, makes this a bit trickier to do. I’d have to experiment with stains to see if it still works. That all being said, if you literally mean, “finish,” as in top coat, then no I’d not apply finish to the panel prior to assembly. Hmmm. Maybe I would in some cases if this was to be a color-free, “natural,” piece. It would get banged up during assembly, but the base finish coat would still be there, edge to edge. So, maybe, especially if the “natural” finish is an oil since oils react with some woods and change their color, again leaving the possibility of a stripe. Oils tend to spread and penetrate well, though, so then again maybe not. Sorry that’s vague, but at least you can see the considerations to work through.

    1. Sometimes the size and shape of the project dictate the process of the work. In this case, Paul was able to have the stiles and rails together without the panel inside the vise. If he had to plane it with the panel after the glue up, it would still be possible, however clamping would have consumed more time.

    2. I just went thru this process and I think one reason Paul does the cleanup at this point is that there is little risk of the panel edges getting damaged by the plane edge. I did the cleanup after gluing everything up and my panels protruded slightly above the surface of the frame. It was quite tricky doing the cleanup and I still managed to ding the corner of one panel.

  1. I’ve noticed that there’s no room left for the panel to expand. I’ve wondered this multiple times already — is the assumption that the wood will continue to lose some moisture anyway when it’s placed in a normal house environment, thus creating some wiggle room?

      1. If I build in the winter with wood that has equilibrated to my conditions, it will be at equilibrium with 35% to 40% relative humidity. In the summer, relative humidity can be 85%. The panel will expand.

          1. You are right that 85% is more of a daily morning peak in the summer, but there can be extended periods. What is probably more significant is the 35% to 40% in the winter, which is the result of using forced air heating. I don’t like the idea that something I build might be damaged by being in natural conditions (no air conditioning) or in plausible adverse conditions. What I am unsure of is whether this matters. Paul’s experience may be to build tightly and the expansion doesn’t matter in a strong frame. But I’m not sure if that’s what the message is. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t give the panel some room to expand. So, I’m asking a question, really.

      2. Thanks Philip. So it really comes down to a judgment call based on how long the wood your working with has been acclimating to your shop conditions, and how these compare to where it will be placed later on.

        For example, the temperature in my basement workshop is approx. 5°C less throughout the year compared to the conditions in my apartment, and it’s roughly the same humidity on average. So even fully acclimated wood in the workshop should shrink a bit further.

      3. After seeing your comments I checked with Paul for further info, and he said that any expansion is contained by the joinery. In this context, there is only a small amount of expansion in width possible. If you had a much more unusual situation, where there was a lot more expansion possible, this would be more of a consideration.

    1. I had the same question. My workshop and wood storage are both unheated (though connected to the house so it doesn’t freeze). It also doesn’t get any humidity from living in there and the wood has been lying there for months, and much of it has been stored in other unheated areas for years before.

      It’ll easily be 20 to 30 deg C warmer in summer than now, with the associated rise in relative humidity, and anything I build will be inside buildings that are actually lived/worked in. So my thinking -at least for winter months- is that I’ll need to consider expansion more than shrinkage. Unfortunately I don’t have the means to measure actual moisture contents.

  2. Thanks Paul. What I like about this video is that is serves as a nice compliment to beveling panels. The other video where you go in depth on doing that is the wall clock. However in this video you orient the wood in a different direction to do the bevel. For me it’s nice to see a slight difference in method. I am just starting to make my fourth wall clock. It’s been about a year since I built my last wall clock. I like to do them from time to time as a way of gauging how I am improving. The body will be walnut and the piece that holds the clock will be maple. Given how much harder maple is, seeing this alteration in a way to do the beveling work will come in handy.

  3. I found it to be fairly tricky matter getting the side panels both square and matching in dimension. I did finally succeed! Does Paul have a systematic way of doing this or is every case different?? Would love to see a video on this.

    1. Hello Harvey,
      We will try to go into this more in the future. Paul will plane the two opposite pieces together sometimes, as well as using a digital vernier caliper to test the with and thickness. The other key is the mortise and tenon technique Paul uses in this project.

      1. Thanks Philip, I used Paul’s mortise and tenon technique and it was amazing how flat and level my frame joints turned out. Yes, I cleaned them up with plane and scrapper but it required very little work.

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