Treating western red cedar

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Forum topic by Jessen posted 12-04-2014 12:06 AM 1002 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1271 days

12-04-2014 12:06 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cedar

I have a slab of western red cedar that I’m going to out up as a fireplace mantel. Was wondering what the best/most recommended products are for treating the wood (oil,urethane,wax??)

I see that cedar oil by Giles & Kendall is recommended with mixed reviews. I’m looking for a bit of a shine but nothing too extreme. Any suggestions?


5 replies so far

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1744 posts in 2476 days

#1 posted 12-04-2014 01:55 AM

Look at 100% pure tung oil (not tung oil finish. it does not really have any tung oil in it) mixed 50:50 with clear mineral spirits. Four or five coats will bring out a nice stain sheen. Easy to apply, and can be renewed by adding more coats of oil every year or so.

You can get it here:

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Kelly's profile


2030 posts in 2944 days

#2 posted 12-04-2014 02:10 AM

I used to play with cedar a lot. It’s said it doesn’t play well with polys, but I never had a problem.

I always thinned the heck out of my poly and let it soak in. As long as the wood would take it, I brushed it on. Usually, over the course of a day.

When tired of tending it, I’d let it dry. Then I’d do my final, surface coats.

Since the first coats [and a gallon or two of thinned product] went into the wood, where it hardened, I had a great jumping off point for the final coats.

Saturated with oil, the wood was less likely to gain or lose moisture. Since it didn’t lose it, it didn’t shrink and crack. In fact, one of my projects sat in front of a fire place for decades and never developed a crack.

One six inch thick slab I played with soaked so much oil-poly mix, the applications bleed through to the other side. That’s penetration. Essentially, I ended up with a huge piece of plastic wood. It, like many I worked, was pretty stable, even in the hostile environment of a wood stove.

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3 posts in 1271 days

#3 posted 12-04-2014 08:37 AM

Great thanks for the tips!

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3 posts in 1271 days

#4 posted 12-11-2014 06:09 AM

So I went with the 100% pure tung oil – 5 coats on and it looks great. One thing I’m concerned with though is the cedar marking up as it’s so soft. Would you recommend a urethane finish or just leave as is?

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2093 days

#5 posted 12-11-2014 12:46 PM

If you’re having problems getting the poly to adhere you can use thinned shellac as a washcoat and sealer. Just about anything sticks to shellac. If the cedar you’re talking about is the purple/white aromatic cedar I haven’t had any particular issues getting poly to adhere to it.

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