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Are there significant merits to staining and waterproofing all surfaces prior to final assembly? It would be more time efficient for my personal schedule to glue all the pieces over the next few nights and stain it over the upcoming nice weather weekend (have to stain/finish outside) - but if it would degrade the quality of the product I can exercise more patience... If I stain it first chances are I would nail more pieces together or use some tape to keep glue parts free of stain.

Some surfaces will not be reachable once assembled.
 

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I assembled mine, then stained and sealed, but I was working with a stand for a 29 and I could get pretty much everywhere that mattered. The only downside I found was anywhere there was glue residue the stain is lighter and where I covered finish nails with wood putty it also stained lighter. If I were to do it again I would get a darker putty to begin with and I would try harder not to get glue on exposed areas and if I did I would wash it off and then sand it. Whereas before I just wiped excess glue off with a towel.
 

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Are there significant merits to staining and waterproofing all surfaces prior to final assembly? ......glue all the pieces over the next few nights and stain it
I think it really is more about how much skill & control you have with the glue. Once you get glue on wood, it won't take the stain.

2nd of course it the time you allow to get your project done.

I've used Rustoleum's paint for wood on all hidden surfaces. It's used for outdoor furniture etc. I believe it has Tefon in it? I use white for inside cabinets. Makes it a little easier to see inside. Water will bead up on it. It is water base paint so easy clean up and low oder.
 
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