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Finish for cedar?????

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Forum topic by msinc posted 05-14-2018 02:29 AM 552 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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msinc

567 posts in 922 days


05-14-2018 02:29 AM

Is there a specific finish that can be applied to eastern red cedar that will maintain the color of freshly planed or sanded wood? Or will just about any finish do it? I would like to be able to keep the red/purple color of freshly worked cedar and not have it go brown like it does if it sits around unfinished for a while. I have to admit to never having had the occasion to build or finish any cedar. I have milled a lot of logs and dried and planed a lot of it too, but never have used it to build anything. I have recently lucked onto a dozen or so nice logs and the color is really something, but it turns brown on the surface if left sitting. I milled a log a few days ago and when I stacked the boards the top one turned brown in the sun pretty quickly, but I noticed that all the other boards still look nice and red/purple.
Many years ago I knew a friend that had custom made cedar kitchen cabinets locally. They were finished with some sort of clear gloss and if I remember right they kept at least most or all of their natural color. Cedar lined closets and cedar lined chests turn brown, but they typically do not have any finish applied. I would like to make a few things and keep that striking reddish purple color if possible, but I have no clue as to how or if it can even be done.
As always, any information is very greatly appreciated, thanks for reading this post.


5 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1879 posts in 581 days


#1 posted 05-14-2018 03:06 AM

it is my belief that UV is the culprit for killing the color in Red Cedar and other woods.
if you can apply several coats of a high grade clear marine spar varnish immediately
after processing, you “might” extend the fading effects for a few years over the polyurethanes.
there are several good brands of marine spar varnish with high levels of UV inhibitors on the market.
6 to 8 coats will be required for the best protection.

-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2710 posts in 3341 days


#2 posted 05-14-2018 11:43 AM

I work with cedar a lot making small crafty items. (see my website) I have tried many finishes for it including tung oi,l danish oil, linseed oil, lacquer, urethane and polyurethane. I like wipe on poly the best, but all of these will work. I apply shellac first, sand it smooth, then the poly.

-- No PHD just a DD214

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John Smith

1879 posts in 581 days


#3 posted 05-14-2018 11:57 AM

I forgot to mention that cedar oxidizes pretty fast in just plain air after it is cut.
so anything you can do to seal the wood from air and protect it from the sun’s
constant bombardment of Ultra Violet (UV) rays, the longer the natural colors “should” last.
you can’t preserve the aroma this way, but it should at least extend the bright colors.

.

-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View msinc's profile

msinc

567 posts in 922 days


#4 posted 05-14-2018 01:20 PM

I agree Mr. Smith, it must have mostly to do a lot with UV light…here is a photo taken minutes ago of some boards I sawed up Saturday. The one in the middle was “on top” of the pile and got hit directly with sunshine for one day! I brought them back inside yesterday morning. The others were outside but were not stickered yet and got no direct sunlight. They also only received artificial LED light the day they were inside. If UV light does it, or just light in general it doesn’t appear affected by LED’s:

I understand about the aroma, even if left unfinished it kind of fades in time, but it can be “refreshed” to almost as good as new with some light sanding. For what I am doing I don’t really need the aroma, just the pretty color. These logs are pretty dry, they were cut down and laid around for 10 years until the other day when I got them. I could just bring them in my old shop in the basement of my house, but the wife cannot stand the smell. I guess it is still good that they don’t have to set stickered for another year in the weather and sun.
Thanks for all the info so far guys!!! It is greatly appreciated.

View msinc's profile

msinc

567 posts in 922 days


#5 posted 05-14-2018 01:31 PM



I work with cedar a lot making small crafty items. (see my website) I have tried many finishes for it including tung oi,l danish oil, linseed oil, lacquer, urethane and polyurethane. I like wipe on poly the best, but all of these will work. I apply shellac first, sand it smooth, then the poly.

- Jim Finn

Thanks for the reply Mr. Finn. If I may ask, why the shellac first? What does that do for you? Is it a better sealer? I have to admit to never having used it. I am sure I have seen it applied to wood, but I don’t remember ever even seeing it for sale where I could buy it. I did a little reading up on it a few weeks ago. I understand it is secreted by a certain bug and gathered by hand off of leaves. Sounds expensive….I mean, how many people have to be “gathering” bug secretions to get enough to finish one board? I must have misread the article. Thanks again!

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