Best Finish for Cedar Furniture - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 4 Old 03-13-2012, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Best Finish for Cedar Furniture

Hi - I built some outdoor chairs using cedar from Lowe's, which is smoth on one side. I wanted the lowest-maintenance option to finish the chairs, while extending their life as long as possible and preventing "splintering". My wife wanted me to stain them dark brown and polyurethane, or otherwise protect them, but neither of us want to re-do that every 1-2 years.

I've searched the internet for this, and I keep finding the same answers: (1) either don't finish it if you want to let cedar go gray, but this will allow the grain rise (I read splinters), or (2) finish it to keep it looking new, but will have to refinish every 1-2 years.

I wouldn't mind not finishing the chairs if I was sure they would still last a long time and the wood wouldn't splinter with age. I have read that sealing the chairs will prevent the wood grains from rising, so I'm considering that. I'm also considering staining the chairs gray to achieve the gray look immediately and finishing with a sealer to prevent splintering.

Can anyone suggest anything? Any specific sealers or stains that work well with the least maintenance? Thanks.
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post #2 of 4 Old 03-13-2012, 02:29 PM
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I'm working on a cedar bench and have picked up a can of Penofin Red Label at the recommendation of Cabinetman. Haven't used it yet but it seems like the best solution for protection. You basically have three choices: leave it unprotected to weather naturally, give it a full sealing coat of paint or poly and remove and redo regularly, or use an oil finish like the Penofin which will provide some protection but will need a fresh coat every couple of years. Doesn't require nearly the removal/prep though like paint or poly would.
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post #3 of 4 Old 03-15-2012, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks - I hadn't heard of that before, but I did some research and it seems like it's pretty popular, although some people have said in areas of high humidity it may turn cedar black. I wish I could test it by getting some samples, but I'm having a hard time finding a dealer in my area (N. Virginia).

I also saw a lot of recommendations for Ready Seal, so I'm debating between it and Penofin. If anyone has experience with these products or others, I'd be very interested.
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post #4 of 4 Old 03-21-2012, 03:04 AM
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If you furniture will be in direct sunlight, it will grey even if never exposed to rain or moisture.
I would sand it very smooth, apply your favorite finish/sealer and let it go.
Don't worry about splinters. By the time that happens, the joints will be weak and it'll be time for more fun in the shop.
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cedar, finishing, furniture, outdoor wood, stain

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