6 Best Finish For Cedar Chest 2021[Reviews & Guide]

You may have a red, antique, aromatic old, or new cedar chest.No matter what type of cedar chest you own. Finishing is the most important part to protect and enhance the beauty of your cedar chest.

There are two types of finishes available in the market today i.e. Surface finish and penetrating finish. 

The Surface finish creates a hard and protective film on the wood. For example Polyurethane, Lacquer. On the other hand, The penetrating finish enters deep into the wood and protects from the inside. For example Tung oil, Danish oil.

So, Now the question; what is the best protective finish for a cedar chest?

You can pick both surfaces or penetrating types of finishes for your cedar chest. Polyurethane, tung oil, danish oil, Boiled linseed oil, and lacquer are the perfect and most popular finishes for cedar chests.

In this article, I have listed and reviewed the 5 best finishes for cedar chests that you can pick for your unfinished cedar chests without any hesitation.

Best Finish For Cedar Chest-Comparisons

ProductsRecoatDry TimeCoatsPrice
Minwax Polycrylic2 Hours24 Hours2-3
Minwax Water-Base Poly2-3 Hours24 Hours2-3
Tried & True Danish Oil 1 Hour6-12 Hours2-5
HOPE'S Pure Tung Oil1 Hour24 Hours3-5
Watco Lacquer30 Min.6 Hours1-3
FurnitureClinic Boiled Linseed Oil24 hours2-3 Days3

Best Finish For Cedar Chest-Reviews

1.Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish

Minwax Polycrylic Protective FinishMiniwax is a well-renowned brand that has been providing good quality finish and other wood improvement products for the last 117 years. And there is no exception to Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish.

It is the hot cake finish from the Miniwax brand and you can pick this wood finish for your cedar chest. Let’s see what features make it best-

It is a water-based finish. Want to know the advantages of water-based finish? It can dry first. You can recoat only after 2 hours and it is easy to clean with water and soap.

To get better durability and resilience you need to light sanding between the two coats. According to the expert,2-3 coats are required for your cedar chest and the final coat of this finish needs 24 hours to be fully cured.

It is available in different types of sheen like gloss, semi-gloss, satin, matte, and ultra-flat. The good news; it has a low odor and no tendency to yellowish over time. So, you can pick this finish for your interior wood furniture as well as your cedar chest.

Most of the woodworkers avoid Polycrylic finish because of its milky appearance and fast-drying feature. Because if you have larger pieces of wood and you are not good at applying then the fast-drying feature can be a big problem.

But you will be happy to know; it can be applied easily with the synthetic bristle brush. So, if you are in a rush and need a beautiful finish or refinish for your cedar chest, It may be the right choice for you. Don’t forget to read the label of the finish before applying.


2.Minwax Water-Base Wipe-On Polyurethane

Minwax Water-Base Wipe-On PolyurethaneMinwax strikes again with the easy-to-apply finish for your cedar chest. It can be applied easily using a cloth. And you will be happy to know polyurethane can provide the best protection and aesthetic looks on cedar.

Polyurethane is the most popular finish today. You know; polyurethane is a surface finish that can create a hard surface on the wood to protect from moisture and scratches.

It is a water-based polyurethane. Like all other water-based finishes, it also has some advantageous features such as easy to clean, fast drying time, less smelly, and being perfect for indoor uses.

In comparison to oil-based polyurethane, the main drawback of the water-based poly is it requires multiple coats. Generally, 2-3 coats and light sanding are required to get the shiny aesthetic look. 

You have to wait only 2-3 hours for recoat from the previous coat. And the final coat needs 24 hours to dry completely.

It comes with gloss and satin variants and both have no tendency to change color over time.

The most likable feature of this polyurethane is you don’t need any brush for applying. You can apply it with bear hand using a cloth. So, you don’t need to worry about the brush mark.


3.Tried & True Danish Oil

Tried & True Danish OilIf you are looking for the best oil finish for cedar chest, Tried & True Danish Oil may be perfect for you. It is a natural and food-safe finish that has no solvent and toxic chemicals.

Danish oil is a blend of polymerized linseed oil that is exacted from some renewable ingredients of trees, seeds, and bees. It is mostly used on kitchen utensils and indoor furniture.

And you know Danish oil is a penetrative wood finish. That means it enters into the wood and provides 360-degree protection from inside the wood. Another best part of wood finish is it removes dust, scratches but doesn’t change the natural color of the wood.

You can see the beautiful appearance after the first coat. Generally, 2-3 coats are enough for any kind of wood object. But you can add an extra coat for better shine and protection. It dries 30-60 minutes and the topcoat requires 6-12 hours for seasoned.

You can apply this danish oil using brush, foam, or cloth. If you like to enhance the beauty of your cedar chest with a natural finish, You should try this Tried & True Danish Oil.


4.HOPE’S Pure Tung Oil

HOPE'S Pure Tung OilHere is another natural, toxic solvent-free wood oil from Hope’s Pure brands. It is a tung oil that is extracted naturally from the pressed seed of a Chinese tung tree. That’s the reason it’s also called china wood oil.

Because of the food safety grade, you can put the finish on your interior furniture and kitchen appliances including your cedar chest.

Tung oil is a penetrating type finish and you know penetrating finish doesn’t create a film on the wood. It penetrates inside the wood and protects from water, alcohol, oil, and dust.

It is a hand-rubbed finish. You can use a clean cloth or foam to put the coat on your cedar chest or other wooden products.3-5 coats on a cedar chest is perfect for providing good protection and beautiful looks.

But remember; too much coat of tung oil on wood looks like plastic. So, considering this you can minimize the coat. The oil penetrates fast. It needs 30-60 minutes to absorb properly and the final coat needs 24 or more hours to cure at room temperature.

Lastly, it provides wet and satin type sheen. If you like that kind of appearance, then HOPE’S Pure Tung Oil for you.


5.Watco Lacquer Clear Wood Finish Spray

Watco Lacquer Clear Wood Finish SprayWatco is a popular brand for wood finish. They produce every type of finish. Here is the best lacquer finish for cedar chest that you may like. Let’s see why it is best-

It is a clear lacquer for any kind of interior wood to provide maximum protection from moisture and scratches. It comes with a super-fast drying feature. It can dry for only 30 minutes.

As I told you, fast-drying has both advantages and disadvantages. If you have small pieces of wood and fast-finishing ability then it may be the perfect feature that you are looking for.

1-3 coats of the Lacquer can provide you with the desired appearance. And good news, you don’t need any sanding between two coats and you need a minimum of 6 hours to completely dry.

It is a clear satin ready-to-spray wood finish that can provide a long-lasting finish. If you are not familiar with spray lacquer, It is also available in the container version of this lacquer that is available in gloss, semi-gloss, and satin type of sheen.

6. Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil for Wood

Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil for Wood

Furniture Clinic Boiled Linseed Oil is one of the popular finishes for the cedar chest. It is certified as good wood finish by the Prestigious Good Housekeeping institute.

It is a penetrating type finish that is derived from the seed of flex. After derivation, the raw oil has been treated with hot air. As a result, the oil can penetrate into the wood fiber easily and dry quickly. So the good news; you can recoat your cedar chest with this finish only after 24 hours.

As you know; this is the penetrating type of finish. And you will be happy to know; it can not make a film on the wood to protect. It protects the wood from the inside against mold, rust, insect, and decay.

Also, the finish provides beautiful looks and doesn’t change the color over time. The best part of the finish is; it can be applied easily. Simply soak the cloth and wipe it on the wood. Let the oil sit and wipe out the extra oil. Apply second and third coat for more protection.


How To Finish The Outside Of A Cedar Chest?

Now you know; What is a good exterior finish to put on cedar chest? But the question; what is the best way to finish cedar chest? Here is the step by step finishing guide for you-

Required Tools and Items:

  1. Wood finish
  2. Finish applicator(Brush, or Cloth)
  3. Sandpaper
  4. Safety Tools

Application Process:

#Clean the cedar chest. Make sure there is no dust on the surface of the wood.

#Don’t shake the finish except for finish spray. Put down a stick on the container and rotate gently. It can help to avoid bubbles on wood.

#Soak the brush or cloth on the finish and start applying from one side to another.

#After the first coat, wait for 30 minutes to 2 hours according to the type of finish.

#Apply another coat and after the final coat wait for it to fully cure.

Note: Don’t forget the label of the finish to know the details about the finish. Different finishes have different drying and recoating time. Remember; more coats mean more protection but you should consider what kind of sheen you want. When you get the desired finish, don’t apply another coat.

What Is The Best Colour Stain For Cedar  Chest?

Actually, it depends on how you want your chest to look. Generally, an oil-based stain is best for cedar chests. If you like the natural color of cedar, then here is the stain I recommend for your cedar chest- Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Stain

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you restore a cedar chest?

Sanding is the first step of restoring old cedar. Sand your cedar chest with a small grit of sandpaper. Clean the sanding dust and add a clear top coat on the chest to provide a new look.

How do you clean a cedar chest?

White vinegar or Murphy’s Oil Soap is the best way to clean cedar chests. To clean the chest properly follow the simple steps-

  1. Vaccum the chest.
  2. Mix 3 tablespoon vinegar or oil soap into 1 cup of water.
  3. Soak a cloth and wipe the chest surfaces.


After lots of research and practical experiment, I have found the 5 best finishes for cedar chest and an easy way to finish the chest.

Actually, wood improvement is an aesthetic job. So, different people have different choices. But I have tried my level best to help you with the right product to enhance the beauty of your cedar chest.

So, let’s know, which one you picked and how was the result. Your feedback may help others.

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