I'm pretty sure I've seen this on here before, but can't for the life of me find it now.
When is the best time to sand and stain your wood/project? Some places say cut everything first and then start putting it together and some say cut as you go. Is it better to sand a little before piecing anything together and then more when it's more together. Should I stain anything before the project is completely done?
I'm in the cut-as-I-go school, but I also cut all parts that need to be the same size at the same time, so I only have to do one setup. Some a lot of projects, that effectively means that I cut all at once.
Sanding I time based on when I have the access I need. The inside of drawers and boxes, for instance, are a bear to sand after assembly, so I do all of that before assembly. I like to give the outside a final plane or sand after assembly. There are probably some sensible rules for what to do, but what I do is just try to think about how I'm going to do each step ahead of time.
I wouldn't stain until after assembly is complete. Stains penetrate pores and close up grain, which can cause problems with glue. If your project is only going to use screws or nails for joining pieces though, it will probably make your life easier to stain ahead of time.