Bed made from western cedar lumber

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Forum topic by CrankAddict posted 08-21-2019 02:34 PM 171 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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44 posts in 284 days

08-21-2019 02:34 PM

Hi everyone,

I am building a tatami style bed out of cedar 2×8s, 2×4s and 6×6s from Menards – i.e. just standard grade lumber. For an indoor application like this, does the cedar need to be finished with anything? I love the smell of cedar so I’d rather not cover it in something like poly (at least I’m guessing that if it was completely sealed up you wouldn’t get the smell). I also like the look of the bare cedar in terms of color, but something to enhance grain a bit wouldn’t be bad either. I’m considering danish oil, furniture wax only, or doing nothing for the finish. Does anybody have any thoughts on that?


3 replies so far

View tywalt's profile


83 posts in 647 days

#1 posted 08-21-2019 03:28 PM

A couple light coats of shellac (thin it with Denatured Alcohol if you buy Zinsser or similar from a box store) would bring out the grain and shouldn’t occlude the cedar smell. Granted – much like new car smell – that will fade with time no matter what finish you use. I would also personally wax it but depending on the brand of wax, that has it’s own aroma.

-- Tyler - Central TX

View CrankAddict's profile


44 posts in 284 days

#2 posted 08-21-2019 03:47 PM

Thanks Tyler. That’s a good point about both the cedar smell fading anyway and the wax having its own smell.

Another thing that I should ask about is how any of these products might change the dimensions of the wood. This project uses no fasteners or glue, everything is a friction fit. I’m a little concerned that an oil or shellac would cause the wood to swell slightly? Below is a picture of the corner of the bed showing the way the rails and stiles slide together and then both slide into the post. I’m sanding to the point where things slide together about 75% of the way with hardly any effort, then with some rubber mallet blows it goes the rest of the way. But is there a possibility I’d get everything fitted properly and then apply the finish only to come back and have none of it fit anymore? Something like a wax-only finish I suppose I could apply after assembly, but anything else I’d have to do to the individual pieces prior to bringing it into the bedroom.

View jdh122's profile


1094 posts in 3300 days

#3 posted 08-21-2019 03:52 PM

Shellac is used as a primer to seal in odors, so I’m a bit skeptical that it would allow the cedar smell through. At least test it first.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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