Russel, sharp tools, a light touch, paying attention to the direction of my tools and some sand paper overcame the problems that cedar presents.
Scott, I used shellac simply because I did not have enough spray lacquer for the vase. I did not want the discoloration of poly. I had shellac and it is clear, dries reasonably fast, and leaves a nice finish.
MMH, my shop stills has the cedar aroma permeating.
Rikkor, I have been selling a few pieces. I have also donated several pieces to local, worth while charities. I plan on doing several art shows this spring and summer. After my skills improve, I plan on contacting several galleries throughout the US. Make me an offer, I would love to adorn your mantle.
Dusty, it probably is aromatic red cedar. I was not paying close enough attention to the person who gave it to me to remember. I was leery of turning cedar because of it's inherent issues. I am pleased with the outcome, though.