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Western Red Cedar Lumber

We custom cut Western Red Cedar logs or slabs into high grade lumber.


Western Red Cedar

A large tree, up to 60 meters tall when mature, with drooping branches; trunk often spreading out widely at the base.

It typically occurs at low to mid elevations along the coast and in the wet belt of the Interior, where the climate is cool, mild, and moist.

Western red cedar grows best in moist to wet soils, with lots of nutrients. It is tolerant of shade and long-lived, sometimes over 1,000 years.

Western red cedar frequently grows with western hemlock and Douglas-fir. On the north coast, it also grows with amabilis fir and spruces. These forests usually have a lush layer of ferns, huckleberries, and Devil's club, with a thick carpet of mosses on the forest floor.

The western redcedar has been called "the cornerstone of Northwest Coast aboriginal culture," and has great spiritual significance. Coastal people used all parts of the tree. They used the wood for dugout canoes, house planks, bentwood boxes, clothing, and many tools such as arrow shafts, masks, and paddles. The inner bark made rope, clothing, and baskets. The long arching branches were twisted into rope and baskets. It was also used for many medicines.

The wood is naturally durable and light in weight. It is used for house siding and interior paneling as well as outdoor furniture, decking and fencing. Because of its resistance to decay and insect damage, the wood of large, fallen trees remains sound for over 100 years. Even after 100 years, the wood can be salvaged and cut into shakes for roofs.

The western red cedar is British Columbia's official tree. The name plicata comes from a Greek word meaning "folded in plaits," in reference to the arrangement of the leaves. It is sometimes called arbor-vitae, Latin for "tree of life."

Color/Appearance: Heartwood reddish to pinkish brown, often with random streaks and bands of darker red/brown areas. Narrow sapwood is pale yellowish white, and isnít always sharply demarcated from the heartwood.

Grain/Texture: Has a straight grain and a medium to coarse texture.

End grain: Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition usually abrupt (or gradual if growth rings are widely spaced), color contrast medium-high; tracheid diameter medium to medium-large.

Rot Resistance: Western Red cedar has been rated as durable to very durable in regard to decay resistance, though it has a mixed resistance to insect attack.

Workability: Easy to work with both hand or machine tools, though it dents and scratches very easily due to its softness, and can sand unevenly due to the difference in density between the earlywood and latewood zones. Glues and finishes well. Iron-based fasteners can stain and discolor the wood, especially in the presence of moisture.

Odor: Western Red cedar has a strong, aromatic scent when being worked.

Allergies: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Western Red cedar has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation, as well as runny nose, asthma-like symptoms, and nervous system effects. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Should be moderately inexpensive for construction-grade lumber, though higher grades of  clear, straight-grained, quarter sawn lumber can be more expensive.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.

Common Uses: Shingles, exterior siding and lumber, boatbuilding, boxes, crates, and musical instruments. Western Red cedar is a commercially important lumber, used in a number of applications ranging from rough-sawn lumber for use in home construction to clear quarter sawn material for classical guitar soundboards.

Note: All pictures shown at our website are actual product pictures; unless otherwise indicated.

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