Cedar is a popular and versatile wood choice for woodworking projects of many kinds. It is known for its natural beauty, durability, and resistance to decay and insect damage. If you are a beginner in woodworking, you may be wondering if cedar is a good choice of wood to work with. This guide will give you all the information you need to know about using cedar in your woodworking projects.
What is Cedar?
Cedar is a type of softwood that grows in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. There are several different species of cedar, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the most common species used in woodworking include Western Red Cedar, Eastern Red Cedar, and Aromatic Cedar. Cedar trees are typically tall and slender, with needles or scales for leaves and small cones for fruit.
Advantages of Using Cedar in Woodworking
Cedar is a great choice for woodworking projects for several reasons:
- Natural beauty – Cedar has a distinctive warm reddish-brown color and a fine grain that makes it a beautiful wood for many applications.
- Durability – Cedar is naturally resistant to decay, rot, and insect damage, making it an excellent choice for outdoor projects like decks, fences, and furniture that will be exposed to the elements.
- Stability – Cedar is a stable wood that resists warping, twisting, and splitting, making it easy to work with and a reliable choice for projects that need to maintain their shape over time.
- Aromatic – Some species of cedar, like Aromatic Cedar, have a natural pleasant scent that can repel moths and other insects.
Disadvantages of Using Cedar in Woodworking
While cedar has many advantages, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider:
- Softness – Cedar is a relatively soft wood, which can make it less durable for some applications, like flooring or countertops, that will be subject to heavy use and wear.
- Price – Cedar can be more expensive than some other types of wood, especially if you are looking for high-quality, knot-free lumber.
- Characteristics – Some people may find the distinctive color or aroma of cedar to be off-putting, especially in interior applications.
Tips for Working with Cedar
If you have decided to use cedar in your woodworking project, here are some tips to help you get the best results:
- Choose the right species – Make sure you select the right type of cedar for your project. Western Red Cedar is a popular choice for exterior applications, while Aromatic Cedar is often used for lining closets and drawers, and Eastern Red Cedar is a good choice for furniture or decorative accents.
- Seal the wood – Cedar may not need to be sealed for outdoor applications, but for interior projects or items that will be in contact with water, sealing the wood can help protect it and keep it looking its best.
- Use sharp tools – Cedar can be tricky to work with, especially if it is knotty or uneven. Use sharp, well-maintained tools to get smooth cuts and avoid tear-out.
- Consider the finish – Cedar can be left unfinished for a natural weathered look, or stained or painted to match your desired finish. Test your finish on a small, hidden section of wood first to make sure you like the results.
- Protect your eyes and lungs – Cedar dust can be irritating to the eyes and lungs, so make sure you wear appropriate safety gear like goggles and a dust mask when working with cedar.
Cedar is a beautiful, versatile, and durable wood that can be used in many different woodworking projects. For beginners, it can be a great choice because of its stability and natural resistance to decay and insect damage. While cedar can be more expensive than some other woods, it is often worth the investment for its natural beauty and longevity. By following these tips, you can work with cedar successfully and create beautiful, functional pieces that will last for years to come.