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I'm going to build a wrapping-paper cart: it holds rolls of wrapping paper, ribbons, tissue, bows, scissors and tape, etc. It's going to be mostly made of 3/8" plywood, and will have a couple of drawers in it.

I'm going to stain and finish the wood. Should I stain it before or after assembling it? (Or both, with touch-up after assembly?) Are there some parts that should be stained at a different time?

For reference, it will look somewhat like this product.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Before if you can. It will be far easier to stain/paint while disassembled, plus you can lay the pieces flat to ensure an even application. If parts happen to shift a bit during use, there will be no noticeable sections that are not stained/painted.

You should try staining a scrap piece of your plywood first to see how it stains, sometimes the results of stained plywood are not great. Painting is sometimes a better option.

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