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I bought a 2nd hand cedar chest recently that where the finish was in rough shape and looked like they had attempted to sand it down. I rescued it and now have it sanded down smooth and I'm trying to figure out the best finish for it to make the grain really pop and not to have it too glossy.

I've read a few other older posts about BLO and follow-up with a satin poly. I'm just checking to see if there were other options. And I know this sounds bad, but i need something that isn't too time consuming or high-maintenance of a task as I like in a condo and am using a tiny balcony for my workshop.

On a slightly diferent note, the builder of this countersunk the screws for putting the top and sides on about 1/2 down and left these 7/16" drill holes along the edges of th top and sides. And suggestions on filling those in with something that will either make it look vintage (like you see on reclaimed wood peices) or unique. I'm just trying to avoid the "wow, that is some obvious wood filler spots" comments.

The chest is solid cedar and pretty thick on top and sides (1"-1 1/4"). No detailing on it, its pretty much a solid cube.

Any help will we awesome.

Cheers,
Graham
 

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You could add 1/8 x 1" strips of a different wood like walnut over the screws to give it an older look..if you wear sand the strips in selected areas it will look more authentic... Sherwin Williams makes a water based polyurethane finish in a matte finish that is durable enough for exterior doors. One trick is to thin the first coat of clear finish and apply over raw wood (unstained). Sand with 220 grit paper to smooth. Then put on a light coat of thinned stained..let it set for five minutes or so then wipe most of it down leaving whatever collects in corners and wiping lightly to leave some high lighted areas. let it dry overnight, then apply a second coat of finish. If brushing apply lightly as to not "lift" the stain. Then you decide whether to sand and apply a third coat of finish. It's easy and gives that aged look without getting blotchy if stain is applied over raw wood.
 
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