I have an electrical panel that is surface mounted to a sheet of plywood in an unfinished section of my basement. I would like to finish that section. The panel is rated for either surface mount or recessed/flush mount, and I'd like to frame it in and make it recessed. However, there are already some connections made to the side knockouts and the top is already pretty full. I'd rather not do some rerouting.
The panel has two rows of knockouts on the sides. I measured, and if I framed it out with 2x2s or 2x4s on edge I'd be able to attach the panel at the side mounting points and leave the back row of knockouts uncovered, and have space for drywall. What I can't find anywhere is whether or not this would be permissible under the NEC. Ideally, I'd like to do this, and then use removable panels over the stud bay the panel is in and the bays to either side.