Should Dresser Interiors be Finished?
Issue: Issue 310
Posted Date: 9/25/2012
First, I enjoy each issue of Woodworker's Journal, both in electronic and print formats. I've been a subscriber for a number of years. I am in the final stages of building a cherry 6-drawer dresser for my grandsons (twins) and have a question regarding the stain/finish. Is it common practice to stain and finish the interior surfaces of the dresser? Thanks for your feedback. - Randy Crothers
Chris Marshall: From a practical standpoint, I can't think of a compelling reason not to finish the interior surfaces of the dresser, aside from the issue that once the carcass is assembled, some of the interior surfaces will be harder to reach. Why not take the project all the way to its fitting conclusion? I'd definitely finish the drawer interiors in order to seal and smooth the wood that will come in contact with clean clothing. I wouldn't stain the interior (and by interior, I mean any surfaces that would be hidden during normal use) unless it was a "secondary" wood that didn't look attractive under a clear finish (purple-ish or greenish poplar comes to mind), but I would still apply a final topcoat.
Tim Inman: This is a question that will have a wide range of answers. Here's mine: Nearly all new furniture has finished "insides" as well as outsides. When I restore/refinish older furniture, I always finish the insides of both the chest and the drawers. There are two good reasons for this: One, finishing the inside of the case helps retard movement due to moisture exchange and two, finishing the insides of the drawers makes for a much nicer utility. The drawers are cleaner and more pleasant to use.
But, if one were doing conservation, or if the goal was to finish or restore the piece to an original period treatment, then the answer would be different. The interiors of many older pieces were not finished. All other things being equal, if it were mine, I'd finish the inside just as nicely as the outside. That's what I do.