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To treat or not to treat a Cedar bench

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Blog entry by DVT posted 06-08-2017 03:27 PM 771 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have just completed a solid cedar bench (4×4 and 2×2 construction) for a fund raising auction. I am debating with myself as to whether I should treat it, or leave it to the eventual buyer and what i should suggest they use or not to use.
Suggestions from someone much more experienced with cedar projects would be more than welcomed.

-- Duane, South Dakota -- duanekc@hotmail.com



5 comments so far

View Ted78's profile

Ted78

310 posts in 1751 days


#1 posted 06-09-2017 02:11 PM

I would finish it with something that makes the grain stand out of look a bit more dramatic, I think it would bring in higher bids that way, then of course let them know, assuming it will be used as an outdoor piece, that it will age? mature? season? weather? whatever term you want use to let them know it will turn gray.

-- Ted

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1718 posts in 2695 days


#2 posted 06-09-2017 07:08 PM

I would not use a solid or hardening finish. The wood will gain and lose moisture and you’ll have the usual problem of finish separating from the wood because it expands and contracts at a different rate than the wood.

Of course, if you do nothing, the wood will continue to dry and shrink. Then, splits and cracks will appear. For those reasons, I’d look to an oil finish. It, of course, requires regular maintenance, but what finish doesn’t, and it’s easier maintenance than stripping a poly or other finish.

I had this conversation with a friend, who owned several cedar mills on the Washington beaches. He claimed cedar did not need attention, but called me years later to ask what he could do to save his cedar shakes. By then, it was too late.

I’m experimenting with an old finish they used on military rifles. I’ve put it on a few things, including my wife’s cedar potting bench. So far, so good.

The finish is boiled linseed oil, pine tar pitch and turpentine. It smells horrible for a few days, but the smell does go away. Of course, you wouldn’t want to sit on it until it’s had time to gas off and harden. Too, both the linseed oil and the pine tar pitch (available at horsey supply places for around ten a quart) darken the wood.

Meanwhile, there is just thinned oil of any non-hardening kind. You can wash off the excess with Dawn or the equivalent.


These things won’t fight back the effects of UV exposure, but I’d rather have that than spit and cracked wood.

View swirt's profile

swirt

2294 posts in 2723 days


#3 posted 06-11-2017 01:11 AM

If it is for outdoors I recommend Sikkens Cetol 1 Or sikkens Cetol Marine. If you put on 3 coats, it goes on and forms a film that looks like a polyurethane but will not crack and fail the way poly does in sunlight. Every 3 years or so, clean it off with a scotchbrite pad to remove dirt and put on another coat. Each coat melts into the previous layer. It holds up against moisture and is the best at standing up to sunlight.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1718 posts in 2695 days


#4 posted 06-11-2017 04:12 PM

I’m going to have to bite the bullet and test drive some Sikkens on a few projects. It’s not easy to find, since most places sell only the other garbage versions of exterior finishes.

I have zero problem with having to maintain a finish every year or two, since I know, going in, there is no zero maintenance finish, including buying teak and just letting it be (my wife’s swinging rocker is proof of the need for protecting teak too). Obviously, just cleaning and re-applying, like you would shellac, is FAR more preferable to having to strip and re-apply a finish.

View swirt's profile

swirt

2294 posts in 2723 days


#5 posted 06-12-2017 01:21 AM

I end up getting my Sikkens as Cetol Marine at West Marine. As near as I can tell it is the same as the Sikkens cetol 1 that I used to get at a local hardware store. Two coats of the tinted variety to give UV protection, then one coat of clear, and recoat with clear every few years. It is more expensive than poly, but poly fails miserably outdoors. So in the ling run, it’s cheaper and better.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

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