Western Red Cedar is a slow growing tree that grows primarily along the coast, from Northern California to Southern Alaska, and in the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains. It thrives in wet, poorly drained landscapes at elevations below 3000 feet.
Red Cedar is primarily a straight grained wood, with a fine, uniform texture. Its average weight is 24 lbs/cu. ft. Its sapwood is an off white color, but its reddish- brown heartwood is most desirable, and is commonly used for woodworking projects. Red cedar is easily dented, and ranks low for shock resistance. It also ranks low for toughness, stiffness, and hardness, but possesses average strength. Because of its oily characteristic, red cedar is very durable and can withstand insects, decay, and inclement weather.
Red Cedar has excellent woodworking qualities, and can be worked easily with both power equipment and hand tools. But since red cedar is not considered a tough wood, it does not possess good bending qualities. It ranks below average for holding fasteners, and does not require pre-drilling because it is soft and not prone to splitting. Red cedar also can usually be turned, and carved without problems, if sharp tools are used. It sands very easily and accepts most types of glue without problems. Red cedar is free of resin, and will readily accept stains, clear finishes, and paint. In order to preserve its aroma, it is recommended to eliminate the finish for some indoor projects. If used for outdoor purposes, polyurethane glue and a spar varnish finish is recommended.
Wood Species Index
Due to its natural durability, western red cedar has many outdoor uses. Some of these uses include: fence materials, shakes, shingles, decks, siding material, gazebos, arbors, planter boxes, and hot tubs. Indoor projects include saunas, jewelry boxes, bookcases, plus various carvings and turned objects. Since moths are repelled by its aroma, cedar is also very useful for making hope chests, and cabinet linings for clothes storage.