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Woodworking/Red Cedar table top finish


QUESTION: We are building a dining room table from Western Red Cedar.  What would you recommend for a finishing product?  Tung Oil, Danish oil, water basis, varnish or whatever?  The table top is 2 1/4 " thick.  I my intention to stain and seal all sides of the table to help with any warping issues.  What would you suggest?

ANSWER: Hey Roy, is this a slab top, or is it a proper glued up panel? Red Cedar is fairly soft, and as such will mark with glasses, and other impacts to the surface....has the top been kiln dried?, air dried? the cedar is very resinous, any finishing would likely need to done using a bond coat of dewaxed shellac or something to guarantee adhesion if you're going to use a surface film type finish (varnish, polyurethane, etc.) A modified oil finish like Waterlox is a good product as well, it will tend to make the wood darkest of all the choices, but it is a penetrating finish that won't chip, flake or peel. Staining will also want to be considered carefully, as the softer cedar will tend to go very dark, easily.Post back- regards- Greg

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: This is a slab top that been run through the jointer and planer. It was glued using Gorilla glue and biscuit were added. The wood was not kiln dried but was tested at 6%.  The log was a left over from our log home and was stored outside for 2 yrs in a dry area. After it was rough cut to size, it was stored in our house for 4-5 months. This wood had the same moisture reading as the doors in our house.

We are considering using Miniwax conditioner then Oil stain and finish with a polyurethane satin finish.

Sorry about the late reply, I am currently battling a newly diagnosed cancer...but my prognosis is good, but not the road....I think that since your good on it being dry, your finish schedule is good...even with it dry, being Cedar means it is a resinous wood, so be sure to let each step dry thoroughly, (especially Minwax products), and make sure to test your comditioner\stain idea on a scrap for color density...that's likely a beautiful wood, with great color without a stain.....but that's up to may want to thin the first coat a little as well to enhance the adhesion of the successive top coats...the wipe on Poly they make is also a nice product, especially on a large surface. Best of luck, sounds like it will be a unique focal point for the room. Please reconsider the tip jar on your way out, and thanks for participating-regards-Greg


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Greg Scholl


Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects,Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings,wood species recognition,usage,etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Sold, built, serviced, setup Home,Industrial and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools, and offered instruction on use and care as well.I even have some Trade show Demo experience.

none at this time.

Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002)-("27 year compilation of expert know-how"),Multiple times in Family Handyman Magazine, local newspapers as well.

Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars by Major tool manufacturers, Delta, Powermatic, Performax, Porter Cable, Skil/Bosch to name a few.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT.(the Antiques capital of CT.)
Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies.For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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