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Woodworking/restoring cedar smell after I goofed restoration

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QUESTION: Hello,

I recently purchased my future daughter in law a mid century cedar chest.  I have used linseed oil and mineral spirits to bring back to life many pieces of old furniture, however, I have never restored a cedar chest.  Without thinking, I used these combination on the inside where the cedar lines the chest.  I was already finished when my husband came out and questioned me on it, I now need to restore the smell, any suggestions.  I hope I haven't totally goofed with no way to restore.  Thanks so much for your attention to this problem.

ANSWER: Hi Sheryl, ooops, yes you shouldn't have put Linseed oil on the raw Cedar...in fact I would advise against using that combination on furniture at all as a general rule. Linseed oil is a slow drying oil, that oxidizes and turns dark with age, and should not be used on a modern piece of furniture...Mineral spirits alone to clean perhaps, but leave the Linseed oil. This is "old" technology, going WAY back in paint and coatings manufacture...and is really no longer relevant. Modern lacquer, and urethane technology, (waterborne and/or solvent based), are newer chemistry, and one should definitely NOT apply Linseed oil over any such finish, where it will leave a residue, perhaps become sticky, and muddy the finish over time.  There are many better, modern products to treat furniture finishes, with which wont break down over time. Oil polishes like Guardsman, Weimans, and good old paste wax for example.I'm sure the raw Cedar soaked up that concoction like a sponge, and that's a problem, because it will take several weeks to months to fully cure. You should leave the chest open perhaps in a garage or somewhere away from people, and maybe even put a fan on the inside to hasten the cure... At that point you could sand the raw Cedar again to open the wood fibers, and see if that is enough to revive the smell, perhaps aided with an application of some Cedar oil, but DON'T be tempted to apply the Cedar oil before that point...you will need to sand the Cedar because the Linseed oil will have sealed the wood a bit, depending on how thick the oil was applied, and the Cedar oil will not penetrate if you omit that step. Hope that helps- please post back if need be- Regards- Greg

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/14Z11/Oil-Of-Cedar-Wood-Finish-8-oz.aspx?refcod

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

QUESTION: Should I go over outside finish with one of the products you listed.   If so do I do anything before since I used the linseed/mineral spirits.   How do I know when inside is ready to sand.   Thanks again

Answer
Sorry for the late follow up, I didn't see the message...by now likely the linseed oil mixture is setting up,(curing), and you should be able to feel the whether the finish is dry on the outside by simply running your hands over it..if it's dry it will feel dry, not sticky, but if it's still sticky or not smooth and dry feeling then I would wash it off with clean mineral spirits or Turpentine and maybe some 0000 steel wool or a ScotchBrite pad, and lots of clean rags.Then you'll have to evaluate what you have and go from there after a thorough drying overnight.Likely that chest is a lacquer finish, and therefore the proper way to restore it will be governed by that. The unfinished inside Cedar is harder to judge, but time is usually the best way, it can take a few weeks or more to fully cure, and trying to sand it will let you know if it is cured. If the sandpaper clogs or does not yield sanding dust easily, then it is still uncured and it will be best to wait. Temperature and air flow will make a big difference in that process as well. A warm, breezy environment will hasten the cure, a cool, still environment will lengthen it.Please feel free to post back- Regards- Greg

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Greg Scholl

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
none at this time.

Publications
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.

Education/Credentials
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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