I read that the oils in cedar will break down both water- and oil- based finishes. Is this true?
Michael Dresdner: Nope, it is not. However, what is true is that some cedars, notably Eastern red or aromatic cedar, contain an antioxidant that can prevent oil-based finishes from curing on them. This is not the case with Western red or yellow cedars, or with so-called Spanish cedar, which is not a true cedar. Those take any finish with impunity. In any case, no cedar will bother either waterbased or solvent-based finishes, only oil-based.