Best finish for Eastern Red Cedar for indoor use that will keep it red?

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Forum topic by SalM posted 03-14-2016 12:38 AM 895 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 223 days

03-14-2016 12:38 AM

Hi all I’m new here. I am working on some cell phone docks or stands as projects. I am struggling to find finishes to allow the end produce keep the deep wet red look. I’ve read mixed ideas. Seen some stuff on here that is incredible with deep red colors which I’d like to try to achieve.

Again these items would be used indoors in say an office or home use with no sun exposure.

The red cedar I’m working with are boards I purchased that I cut into 4×4” blocks 1” thick.

Any ideas? Not looking to make these pieces look like a table with many many layers of finish, just a few to protect it but want to retain or improve the red color of the cedar.

Thank u greatly for any advice and I look forward to reading more here now that I found the site!

Image below on the products I’m making.

9 replies so far

View KYSean's profile


98 posts in 3015 days

#1 posted 03-14-2016 01:26 AM

Why put any finish on it?


View JBrow's profile


743 posts in 338 days

#2 posted 03-14-2016 01:37 AM


I am not much of a finishing guy and others here are far more experienced with finishes than I. Nonetheless, I have an opinion.

It is my belief that wood changes color for two reasons, due to exposure to air and to sun light. Even an indoor project is exposed to sunlight, which enters through windows. It is actually probably the UV region of sunlight that causes the change of color of wood. Therefore, to preserve the color of wood, I would select a Spar Varnish, that includes additives that absorb UV in sun light before it makes it to the wood. A Spar varnish would offer maximum protection against UV. As a film finish, a Spar Varnish goes a long way in forming a barrier between the wood and air.

View bandit571's profile


14052 posts in 2102 days

#3 posted 03-14-2016 01:38 AM

I have a Hope Chest I made out of solid Aromatic Red Cedar almost 5 years ago. Still looks nice and red on the outside…where three coats of Minwax Poly Gloss were used. First two just soaked right in.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View bandit571's profile


14052 posts in 2102 days

#4 posted 03-14-2016 01:58 AM

Is this what you are after? This is solid red Cedar.

With the lid raised. I did not finish the inside, as we wanted to keep the Cedar Smell going.

Three coats, Minwax Poly Gloss.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View SalM's profile


5 posts in 223 days

#5 posted 03-14-2016 08:42 AM

Thanks all. I’m actually looking for something to make the pieces kinda pop so to say. Like stand out.

I was thinking tung oil but then nothing over that. Something I can wipe on and it will hold its deep color for awhile.

I tried johnsons paste wax and during application it looks awesome, nice and deep red but after a day or so it seems the wax dries out after multiple applications and The wood looks bare and light colored again?

Again thanks

View SalM's profile


5 posts in 223 days

#6 posted 03-14-2016 08:43 AM

Bandit that chest is awesome!

View rwe2156's profile


2111 posts in 899 days

#7 posted 03-14-2016 11:27 AM

My experience is if its exposed to much light, I don’t think it matters what you put on it, it will eventually go brown.

This is southern red cedar I’m talking about, could be different.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2340 days

#8 posted 03-15-2016 02:17 AM

I make hundreds of boxes every year using eastern red cedar. After sanding and tacking I apply a brush on sanding sealer, or lacquer. Next day I sand it to 200 grit and then spray with a rattle can of glossy clear finish from Rustolium. (Lowes paint dept.). As has been mentioned, keep it out of sunlight before finishing. I have also had success with spray on Lacquer, brush on Lacquer (Deft) and with wipe on Poly.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View SalM's profile


5 posts in 223 days

#9 posted 03-15-2016 11:58 AM

Jim thanks! Those are sweet!!! Great job
I decided to use tung oil. Just looking for something to wipe on a few coats to give them protection and a little hardness and possible shine!
So far it’s working well!

Thanks everyone for the help I appreciate it greatly!

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