Cedar dining room table material and finish

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by jasonbutler42 posted 03-21-2011 03:31 PM 7890 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jasonbutler42's profile


2 posts in 2861 days

03-21-2011 03:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cedar finishing dining table question

Hey! I’m new to the forums here and hoping you can help me out.

I’m considering a dining room table very similar to the one detailed here:

They suggest cedar as the wood, which I’m okay with because of the relatively low cost, but I’m open to other suggestions.

Most of the techniques I’m also familiar with, although I haven’t used them all together for one project.

But I could really use some advise on how to finish a table like this.

1. This will be a replacement for my aging dining room table; what kind of finish would you recommend?
2. Since the breadboard is there to allow the wood to naturally expand and contract, what kind of finish will expand and contract with it? Wouldn’t sealing all the surfaces be counter productive? Or is that not a concern?

4 replies so far

View dryhter's profile


74 posts in 3841 days

#1 posted 03-21-2011 04:24 PM

Welcome Jason, Any finish made these days should work just fine, water based Poly urethane is probably at the top of the list. The thing that spins my head though is using cedar for the build, it is just too soft from a durability standpoint. Poplar would be a better choice.

-- Chips and Shavings/ see you at

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3088 days

#2 posted 03-21-2011 04:33 PM

Agreed that the cedar is too soft. Is alder available in your area? It’s harder than poplar.

The plan claims to be a table/desk, but he built it more like a workbench for dismantling flathead v-8s. There’s really no purpose in leg and top thickness dimensions like that and certainly no grace at all.

If you’re gong to use WB poly, I’d further suggest the spar variety—it’s a little more flexible, designed to give when dimensions change.

Be prepared for multiple coats—five is a minimum for me, 6 or 7 is better. And you can sand pretty aggressively the first two coats.

Strain the material before each coat.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2931 days

#3 posted 03-21-2011 04:33 PM

To comment on the wood used- 2”x cedar looks rather unattractive to me.. I suppose if there was a striking contrast between heart/sapwood, that would be one thing, but between the knots and the ho-hum grain, I’d go with walnut, maple, cherry, or oak. As for a finish, since it’s something people will be spilling liquids on, I’d figure something like poly or shellac to really get nice water resistant protection. Maybe a top coat of food-safe wax to really give it a smooth finish. Just from what I’m comfortable with using and have used in the past—Danish Oil, Poly, then wax. Perhaps this isn’t the best, but I’m fairly sure it would work.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View jasonbutler42's profile


2 posts in 2861 days

#4 posted 03-21-2011 10:37 PM

Thanks for the great advice! The softness of the wood was already one of my concerns, so thanks for reinforcing that! I’ll have to check around for the availability of wood, but cedar is pretty cheap…

I’m kind of looking at this as a starter project for me that is also functional – at least for now. I need a dining room table and I need a way to build some skills and this seems like a way to to both, right?

If you have other suggestions of good starter projects, please let me know!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics