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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2014, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Default cedar kitchen table

i am building a cedar kitchen table and i'm looking for an affordable but durable finish for it. i don't want it to be to glossy. any suggestions and advice? any would be appreciated!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2014, 06:47 PM
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Cedar dents easily so it makes it a bit complicated. An epoxy finish would be the most durable but it could still dent and then it would be really hard to fix. Varathane or varnish are next best and easier to fix and use but dents will show. An oil finish is the easiet butit needs to be food safe. Small dents won't be quite as noticeable because of the lack of sheen to the finish. Usually you just clean it up good and then add another coat when it needs it.

The only way to give a cedar table top total protection is to add a glass top to it.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2014, 07:15 PM
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What species of cedar?

The reason I ask that, is that some species of cedar is soft enough that you can leave a scratch or dent with your finger nail... some are harder.

If a soft species on a dining table, I'd be using some kind of wood hardener to toughen it up before finishing, Then used a urethane or ployurethane mat finish on it. What would be better on that is an epoxy, but you said you didn't want a shiny finish to it. Tung oil will work, if you can make sure the wood is above 75*F when finishing and curing it (which takes ahile with tung oil.

If a harder species, like Yellow Cedar or Yellow Cypress, not as much a factor.

EDIT-- Seesm like Charles and I were posting at the same time. VBG

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 07:52 AM
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Is the cedar one of the native usa cedars, Western Red, or aromatic cedar. I am buillding a bench out of the native aromatic red cedar, locally called eastern red cedar. Legs and bench top are width of tree diameter, around 18 inches and 3 1/2 inches thick. It is from a old dead tree. Cut wood with chainsaw sawmill, and smoothed with had plane then scraper blade then sandpaper.
Using linseed oil many coats, then a liquid wax that contains bees wax and other waxes. Having trouble sealing the end grane where it does not want to keep soaking it in. but looks great. Do not know how it will look after months or years.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 10:54 AM
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I have had excellent results with a product called "GOOD STUFF". Bally Block Co., Bally, Pa, 19503.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mulberry View Post
Is the cedar one of the native usa cedars, Western Red, or aromatic cedar. I am buillding a bench out of the native aromatic red cedar, locally called eastern red cedar. Legs and bench top are width of tree diameter, around 18 inches and 3 1/2 inches thick. It is from a old dead tree. Cut wood with chainsaw sawmill, and smoothed with had plane then scraper blade then sandpaper.
Using linseed oil many coats, then a liquid wax that contains bees wax and other waxes. Having trouble sealing the end grane where it does not want to keep soaking it in. but looks great. Do not know how it will look after months or years.
^
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+--- Sanding Sealer on the end grain...

But it sounds like your application is different than the OP. Since other people are jumping in here asking other questions, maybe more detail is needed(?)

Species of cedar are found around the world. Spanish Cedar, Iranian Cedar, Chilean Cedar, Japanese Cedar, Lebanon Cedar, etc. Not just in North America. Cedar is commonly soft and has oils inside it that make it desirable for exterior, or to line closets and chests. I like the way it looks for paneling and trim. It gives a Northwest feel to things. Cypress and Juniper are related somehow and also get lumped in as being called Cedar in some locals.

It is somewhat challenging if you want to stain or finish it by hand for interior work-- if you start using it for furniture and move away from it's traditional natural look and feel. It does do spray-on well, but because of it's qualities that make it a good exterior wood, those same qualities make it a challenge for what you consider using interior finishes. It is a wood that for interior trim or paneling, we usually just wipe it with a light oil, or with no finish and let it gray with age. Since is is soft, it is easy to work with...

Next is that the oils that give it good weathering and insect resistance outside, play heck with interior stains and finishes. Without care and good prep, it will turn out splotchy trying to use interior stains on it. Usually you do a natural look to it.

It is a soft wood, so things you do to try to toughen the grain would help. Those same things help it take interior stains more evenly.

Next challenge after that is that if you are using it for a dining table, then you start wondering if things are food safe. Tung oil and Linseed oil... There are lots out there that are not pure and are mixed with other things to use as driers, that the things mixed in are not food safe. Those types that are marked as food safe are still toxic until after those driers dry and the oils cure. Some brands take 7 days. Most take about 30 days. But the note of doing that with cedar, is that the wood has to be warmed up enough and kept that warm for that finish to work with that wood. (about 75*F)

As Charles mentioned-- Epoxy or glass would be ideal for what you are trying to do with that.

That is assuming that that is a soft species of cedar. Cypress is harder, but has even more oils to it.

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Last edited by MAFoElffen; 03-21-2014 at 11:51 AM.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 11:51 AM
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A nice finish is to use a resin (EX-88 or EX-74), with resin and surrounding area at about 80F, so that it will soak in deeply, then sand it off carefully just to the edge of the wood fibres. This gives a satin and durable finish.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 12:45 PM
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New feature of the forum is that you can only edit a post for 30 minutes, then it is locked? PITA, so...

EDIT (additional to my last post)--

Like I said with warming the wood to the mid-seventies, that that wood (Cedar) takes finish better... and it takes spray-on finishes well... that is how it is finished when used in Musical Instruments. But those same stringed instruments are considered as being delicate. For that, it is usually finished with light, thinned stains and lacquers.

But when used in a stringed musical instruments-- that is usually from naturally occurring dead cedar that is well and slow cured, seasoned by age...

I have a technique for prepping the surface of lumbered, kiln seasoned cedar to re-create that (visually) and to help prevent any blotches, but I hesitate getting into that in an open forum. It is sort application specific and would remove the surface oils, just to make a spray-on finish more even and consistent.

You just get exposed to different tricks over the years when you are trying to restore or match things...

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"Usually learning skills and tooling involves a progression of logical steps."

Last edited by MAFoElffen; 03-21-2014 at 12:49 PM.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 12:46 PM
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i'd suggest a glass top. it will prevent scratches, dents, stains... and last forever.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 01:02 PM
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Whenever I do an oil finish then I add a hardner to the first coat, the hardner can be any oil based lacquer, what I do is I take about 40% of an oil like linseed, then I add 40% of an oil based thinner like Turps, then I add 20% hardner, any turps/oil based lacquer, this mix will soak in very easy as all the turps makes it a light solution, it's wet so if soaks in, then leave it alone until it is 'thoroughly dry' and then it can be cut back with a very fine wet and dry sand paper, the wet is turps, so when it is fully cut back the rub it down to be very clean with clean rags, then run in your oil finish but don't add any more hardner as it will not soak in any more, the more you rub in oil then the better it will look and you will have to rub in more oil over the years as it is needed, a glass top will always protect the main surface if you want to do that but it does take away something from the look of a fine timber table, I think that a bit of wear and tear does add to the tables character, do post a photo of your finished project. N
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