Is there a different meaning, saying "the report is all but finished" and "the report is anything but finished"?
Suppose I still have some lines to write to finish the report, I'd say: The report is all but finished. By that I let know that the report is nearly up. ALL BUT = NEARLY, ALMOST
But If I want to let know that the report is by all means not finished, without giving any detail about the state of its completion, I'd say: The report is anything but finished. ANYTHING BUT = NOT AT ALL, BY ALL MEANS NOT
Saying that the report is nothing but finished, I'd mean that it is actually finished. Its primary feature is its completion. NOTHING BUT = [nothing less than and nothing more than ??]
That's MY opinion about your interesting question, hefty dude. (The issues you jot down are always interesting.) But I've just been jeered at by a clever farmer as being a clever-clog. So don't trust me without a extra-check.