Outdoor Finishing for Red Cedar - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 4 Old 04-20-2017, 03:04 AM Thread Starter
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Outdoor Finishing for Red Cedar

I'm working on a birdhouse made out of a junky acoustic guitar. I sanded it and glued these 1/4" cedar panels that are made for closets and drawers. I'd like to get some chatoyance (make the grain pop) out of it and also have something protect it a bit from moisture and temperature changes.

So far, I tried 2 coats of Thompson's Timber Oil in Teak (it was on sale for $29 and had lots of good reviews). It isn't really getting a grain popping shellac, boiled linseed, Danish, or tung oil finish to it. Not sure if I should keep trying more coats of the Timber Oil or sand it and use a spar urethane. Any other ideas?
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post #2 of 4 Old 04-20-2017, 07:49 AM
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I don't think the guitar will work. If it's not veneered it certainly is glued with interior glue. I think your only chance is a heavy coat of a spar varnish. Anything to prevent the wood from soaking up water. The Timber Oil is just going to shed the majority of the water.
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-20-2017, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Thorn495 View Post
I'm working on a birdhouse made out of a junky acoustic guitar...Any other ideas?
Hello Thorn,

Well this is an exciting little project...I have seen an old Dulcimer, and Ukulele made into bird houses, but not a Guitar yet...

If this isn't meant to be a "real bird house" please ignore my advice and finish anyway you find fits your needs...

I will start by validating that besides my 30 plus year careers (on and off) in traditional woodworking, my first paid vocations (besides Guiding and being an Arborist) was that of Park Naturalist and Zoo Keeper... Within the later vocations, I designed and built numerous nesting boxes for all manner of Wee-Beasty...feathered, furred and/or scaled...

There are some additions to you Guitar repurposing project that I would suggest, if I may. First is make sure this Nest Box is hung properly for a given range of target species, and the ingress/egress opening is germane for that specie(s) as well.

Next make sure you can efficiently take it down each season and have an access panel/door to do a proper clean out maintenance. This can facilitate the box lasting longer than they typically do...This can also give you (and others) an opportunity to have an interpretive study of different nest building styles. I would often donated these to schools and other study groups, as well as maintain a small collection for our various interpretive programs.

Another addition that may prove useful is to build an interior chamber within the Guitar body. Not all species that may investigate this Guitar for a possible nest site will feel comfortable in such spacious accommodations...Many like a little tighter fit...So again...think of the target specie(s) you wish to attract.

I would also suggest small drain holes (that can be screened with a copper or bronze metal screening) in the bottom recess of the overall structure. This does not have to be more than 4 to 8 holes that will allow any interstitial moisture to escape and additional venting as well to the nesting chamber.

As to the finishes for such a wood box, I would never use a modern plastic finish of any kind, or any finish you suspect may have chemical or petroleum based distillates in them. Most modern finishes do. A nice blend of natural oils, beeswax and rosins such as found by Heritage Finishes is all I have used for over 30 years, or would recommend...especially for a wood nest box...Typically (not always) these natural finishes only go on the outside of such a box and typically may only need a touch up every 3 to 5 years...which is a very easy process...

Hope you find this useful...


Last edited by Jay C. White Cloud; 04-20-2017 at 02:54 PM.
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post #4 of 4 Old 04-22-2017, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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I'm going to experiment with sample pieces to see what works best out of what I have to work with before I continue with the guitar. I'll post my results after I'm done.
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