Joinery to Prevent Telegraphing of a Paint Finish

Cabinetmakers consider material and glue choices to avoid visual telegraphing of joints in a custom cabinetry and furniture job that will have an opaque white lacquer finish. November 15, 2011

I'm working on a designer job of various projects, very contemporary and all white lacquer style finish. I know from experience any box assembly joints or face frame joints will eventually telegraph. What is the best way to overcome this? Has anyone tried something like epoxy and fabric with any success? If so, is there something more friendly than fiberglass?

A thought has come to me that I want something like MDO plywood - a kraft paper overlay. Has anyone tried this?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
Flat slab faces or frame and panel? The surface of MDO is not flat at all. Lacquer on it will look horrible. Columbia Forest Products has a new product called MPX core that uses poplar crossbands and a new veneer peeler to give a very flat surface. Itís still not as flat as Medex or MDF though.

The best way to overcome wood movement: great joinery, let glue joints rest for a couple days before subsequent sanding and machining so the swelling has gone down, and don't use wood.

From contributor A:
Epoxy will telegraph the most because of the thick glue lines. We have the best success with Titebond 1. It doesn't show up on five piece doors sprayed with two coats of primer and two coats of gloss white. Any of the other glues telegraph. Fiberglass/resin will show up as a denser area.

Do basic samples like gluing multiple blocks of say 6" x 6" maple in series, changing each glue at each joint. Let it dry overnight, sand it flat, prime it, and then topcoat with gloss white. Leave it in a moist environment for a week and you will have your answer. My money is on Titebond 1.

From contributor T:
If possible use MDF with no joints, it paints out nice.

From contributor M:
Is this for cabinetry? What kind of doors; slab, frame and panel? Face frames? Finished sided? I can tell you that perfection is possible using MDF and Bondo. Others have given great advice about dealing with the glue joints.

From the original questioner:
There are cabinets with slab doors, but there are other projects like free standing dressers. The joints I am concerned about are the exterior of the box joints on these (top to side - mitering may be the answer) and if I use a face frame, frame to box, (or even frameless) the face joints. These dressers will have stretchers joining the sides. MDF is probably my choice, but these are not small and the weight might add to the problems.

From contributor D:
The only lesson I have learned is to express the joints with a V-groove. I call this at the proposal stage and in the submittal stage so everyone understands that these open up over time. We sometimes veneer the exposed ends - but even the joint of the veneer to the substrate releases over time. A mitered outside corner works well, but you will not be able to do this in every situation.