The Complete Details Of Cedar Wood
This aesthetic wood, Cedarwood, has its own attraction in pleasing people’s eyes. More than just its beauty, the wood also has other significant values and unique facts.
Here are the comprehensive details of the wood.
Cedar Wood definition
The word ‘cedar’ derives from Cedrus, a tree genus. This type of wood comes from a coniferous tree.
You might have seen several types of cedarwood like western red cedar, eastern red cedar, Spanish cedar, Lebanon cedar, Atlas cedar, and others.
Still, only some of them are the true ‘cedar’ that belong to the Cedrus genus.
Yet, some other genera that come from Pinaceae, Cupressaceae, and Meliaceae families have still considered cedar trees.
Like the common cedar trees in the U.S., eastern and western cedar is not true because their genus is not Cedrus. Somehow, they are still known as cedar trees.
The wood from the mentioned families’ classification has similar characteristics like aromatic, light, and straight-grained.
Hence cedarwood can be described as wood from Cedrus, Pinaceae, Cupressaceae, and Meliaceae family that shares similar characteristics.
Many types of cedar trees grow worldwide, and the most commonly used are as below.
Alaskan Yellow Cedar (Palicourea croceoides)
Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.)
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana L.)
Spanish Cedar (Cedrela oderata L.)
Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
Advantages of Cedar Wood
Based on its characteristics, this wood brings some advantages for certain purposes like decking, lining, siding, fencing, and more. The benefits include:
1. Visually appealing
The wood has varied colors depending on its type. The natural color enchants eyes making the wood outstands the other wood types.
Moreover, its open and straight grain adds artistic value to its look. This wood can be found in several grades, textures, and dimensions.
2. Naturally anti-insects and fragrant
The wood has a natural scent that also differs based on its type. In common, they smell woody, sweet, earthy, and fresh.
The wood can even be made into essential oils. The scent keeps insects away and makes the wood good for indoor furniture.
3. Good structure and no warping
The grain direction and the wood structure make the wood solid and won’t absorb any moisture easily. This dense wood doesn’t warp, kink, crook, twist, bow, or cup.
It is also porous, making the wood sound resistant. Though the wood is light, it is quite strong and hard to break. Natural defects like knots, rots, or insect defects are less likely found in cedar.
4. Durable and less maintenance
Due to its structure, the wood is durable because it won’t rot in a damp environment. The wood is weather resistant that makes the wood suitable for both indoor and outdoor purposes.
Some types of cedar also don’t need to be stained too often. The well-maintained ones can even last for fifteen to twenty years.
Disadvantages of Cedar Wood
Besides the abundant advantages, this type of wood also has some downsides. Though some of them can be prevented and overcome, these are disadvantages that people need to consider.
Although there are still other types with higher prices like Redwood, ebony, sandalwood, and others, cedar is still quite expensive. Since 2017, its price keeps increasing.
It might be caused its population is getting less. Some species have been on the endangered list.
Fragile and sensitive
Because of its soft characteristics, the wood is prone to dents and scratches. Rough rubbing, pet claws, uncareful handling might leave some marks on its surfaces.
Measures by the wood’s hardness scale, most types of cedar have small scores like white cedar and western red cedar.
Checking, splitting, and fading
Cedar is durable, but with no maintenance, its performance will downgrade in time. The weather and moisture will rot other woods but not with cedar. This wood will crack down and split.
The wood naturally adjusts the environmental conditions by releasing and absorbing moisture. The extended dry condition makes the wood release its moisture from the outer layer, making cracks on the surface.
Some cedars also fade due to UV rays, weather, and temperature. It fades into greyish color.
Not animal friendly
Its natural oil and strong scent contain certain chemicals that are not good for animals, including pets.
The terpenes, Melia toxins, and phenols that insects avoid might benefit the wood, but those chemicals can be toxic when ingested. Avoid your pet from biting the wood.
Cedar belongs to softwood which is easy to get split and burned. The wood will release a certain aroma, and the essential oils will make ember pop and fire sparks spit. Therefore it is not suggested to burn cedar inside.
Advantages of Pine Wood
Compared to cedar, pinewood shares similar advantages.
They include lightweight, beautiful grains, rot-resistance, and good endurance with low maintenance.
Moreover, it requires less reinforcement and suits indoor and outdoor purposes.
Common uses of Cedar Wood
Influenced by its characteristics and advantages, this wood is often used as below.
- Outside uses including fences, shingles, birdhouses, decks, boat build, log sides, garden beds, window boxes, and more
- Inside paneling and linings in chests, trunks, saunas, and closets
- Musical instruments like classical guitars, violins, and flamenco
Is Cedar Wood good for outdoor furniture
Based on several uses above, furniture is not implicitly stated as common use. It implies that most types of cedar are soft and not good enough for furniture.
Cedar has few scores on the hardness scale, making it easy to break when used in furniture materials.
Moreover, its natural oil and fragrance can cause an allergic reaction to people with sensitive skin conditions or respiratory problems.
Is Cedar Wood easy to work with
Though this wood is not ideal for inside furniture, the soft characteristic of the wood makes it easy in the woodworking process for outside uses. Its solid structure won’t bend easily, and wood glues work best in it.
Stainless steel bolts are more suggested than screws and nails as the mechanical fasteners because of the cedar’s seasonal movement. For finishing, the wood doesn’t require any painting, and simple staining is enough.
Cedar Wood texture
It is soft yet stable wood. Most cedars have a straight and open grain. Wavy grain is also common. The cedar trees mostly have white or pinkish-red thin sap areas that are most likely milled away during timber making.
Generally, cedar also has diverse textures (yes, depending on its type) ranging from smooth, medium, to coarse textures. Small and big knots are also often found in certain types like western red cedar.
Cedar Wood color
There are at least six different types of cedarwood. Among those types, their natural colors range from white, pale yellow, pinkish-red, pale brown purplish-brown, and dark reddish-brown.
The outer part of the sapwood wood usually has a softer color compared to the heartwood area. As it ages, the colors might fade into paler ones, and some even turn greyish.
Cedar Wood strength
Cited from the bending strength of softwoods, cedar types have smaller numbers than other softwood types. The eastern (Aromatic) red cedar has the highest score of 8,800 psi of all cedar types. Others have scores below 7500 psi.
Viewed from the Janka hardness scale, of 0 to 4000 scale, only elm cedar has 1320 scores, followed by red cedar with 900 scores. Others only get 720 and fewer.
Cedar Wood facts
Not all cedar wood comes from the ‘true’ cedar trees. Cedars with the Cedrus genus are the real cedar. Cedar originally grows in Asia, precisely in Himalaya Mountain and Mediterranean Countries.
The wood is even mentioned in the Bible as King Solomon’s temple material. Throughout time species are spread around the world. Hence some species can be found in America, Asia, and even Australia.
Nowadays, there are more endangered species of cedar, and their usage will lead to fines or other punishment.