Varnishing the inside of wood type drawers

I recently got a wood type cabinet restored and needed to replace a number of the drawer bottoms because they were cracked. I was considering adding a coat of urethane to the bottom of the drawers to persevere the wood and make it easier to clean. I know many of the old cabinets used a sheet of paper to accomplish this. However, while it is empty, I thought a quick coat could add an extra level of protection and increase the value if I ever sell it.

Is there a reason I shouldn’t do this? The only thing I could think of is it could possibly trap moisture in the cabinet, but I don’t know if that should even be a concern (especially if I put the paper down). Any thoughts?

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I would try it on a couple first and wait a few months to see if there’s any problem. Those old wooden cabinets have pretty good air flow though.
The real problem is dust and other pollutants (like ink mist) floating around your shop. It’s bad for everything. Try controlling it with some good air filtration.

I agree with bppayne that the real problem is dust and other pollutants. I didn’t control the humidity in my shop last year and had what was presumably mildew growing everywhere. This year I kept the humidity below 60% with a dehumidifier and had no problem. I’m guessing a good air purifier should take out mold spores as well as the dust etc.

Being a DIY’er, I wouldn’t buy an expensive air purifier. I’m not giving any assurance that this would work, but what I would do is build a wooden box with no front and no back. I would attach a good quality furnace filter to the front of the box and put a fan in the back to blow air through the filter. If there were some spaces between the edges of the fan and the edges of the wooden box, I would try to close most of those those up with thin plywood or even paperboard.

Getting back to Matt’s original question, if the insides of the cases (drawers) are varnished, it would be harder for the bottoms of the types to acclimate to changing humidity conditions. The tops of the types, being exposed to the air, could acclimate faster. This could possibly set up stresses in the types which could cause cracking. This probably wouldn’t happen but is a good reason to, as bppayne says, try it on a couple first. I would be sure to try it for a full year so you go through the humidity changes in all four seasons.

Most wood type is end grain but some is also side grain. If you have both kinds, try your experiment with both.

Agreed Geoffrey. I have a lot of ink mist and paper dust in my shop. I run a Honeywell filter and a Stanley air filter, which are both good, in addition to my 3 air filters on my windmill. I’m considering adding a DIY filter.