Pre-finish the entire panel?


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Hello and happy woodworking! 

I'm building a bench/shoe rack of walnut. It is nearly complete! I only need one more sanding step at 180. I'm beginning to think about what pieces I can pre-finish (arm-r-seal semi-gloss). The top of the bench sits flush with the top of the apron and legs by way of a grove in the apron and a rabbet in the top (see pictures for a general idea). What are the pros and cons of pre-finishing the entire top including the rabbet and the groove as opposed to not finishing rabbet and the groove. I guess the same could apply for pre-finishing the entire panel of a frame and panel. The bench top floats in the groove to allow for wood movement. Thanks! 



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First, welcome to the forum. Second, those are some darn nice looking cuts. Lastly, I have made several frame and panel projects and have luckily, never regretted never prefinishing any of them. However, there are umpteen dozens of others on here, @wtnhighlander included that have far more experience in finishing than I have so take that as you will. Also, we have a constant 100% humidity here, even inside, so that may have a bearing on my success. 

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