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What is the highest moisture content of material you would be comfortable sealing with precat vinyl & precat lacquer? I won't know the exact reading until monday, but guessing around 16%. The material is Missouri aromatic cedar. Also called Eastern red cedar.
9-10% is the highest I would go. Any higher and I would have it dried or use an oil. That material as I'm sure your aware will have substantial movement especially on joints. If it was just molding I wouldn't be quite as apprehensive with the pre cat.
Why are you finishing aromatic cedar? I've only used in for closet liners and wardrobes for it's aromatic properties.
We finish a lot of our reclaimed and new materials with danish oil. It's an oil varnish hybrid and works well for applications like this.
Putting a hard finish on cedar can be tricky. The "aromatic" part of the cedar comes from oils in the wood, and that can spell trouble for a finish.
The moisture content is going to be important for wood movement as much as finish adhesion. A m/c of 10% or less will be best.
I would not use lacquer for a table. We have built tables for several restaurants out of reclaimed wood and always use conversion varnish. It is the best finish you can use without expensive specialized equipment.
I don't know why I said precat, we used conversion varnish on every table we've ever done. We surfaced a bunch of this stuff this AM & it's reading 8.5- 9 %. A lot better than what I expected. Bill, would you use CV on this or go with an oil finish?
I'd test it first. Wipe it down with either acetone of lacquer thinner just before you shoot. That will make sure all the surface oils are gone. You should get good adhesion from there.