Eastern Red Cedar questions

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Forum topic by AmericanPatriot posted 04-03-2016 03:11 AM 1393 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 1642 days

04-03-2016 03:11 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cedar eastern red cedar aromatic cedar

I”m building a storage chest for a customer who requested cedar lining. I haven’t worked with cedar before but from what I understand I shouldn’t seal it because it would also seal in the aromatic smell. However, I’ve also heard that oil from the cedar will work itself out for quite a while and to alleviate it the cedar should be coated with shellac.

Can you give me any pointers on whether to seal the cedar or not? Also, with it being inside the chest how long will it take, approximately, for the nice red color to fade?



8 replies so far

View Matt Rogers's profile

Matt Rogers

112 posts in 2776 days

#1 posted 04-03-2016 10:59 AM

Don’t seal it. The purpose of a cedar chest is to keep wool-eating moths away form your clothes. If you seal the cedar then the moths will not be repelled and then there is no reason to use the cedar in the first place. Every cedar chest or closet I have seen has completely unfinished cedar inside. This is so that you can sand the inside every 10-20 years to make it fresh again.

Shellac is the best sealer, so absolutely do not use that for this purpose.

-- Matt Rogers, and

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3282 days

#2 posted 04-03-2016 11:40 AM

ERC can be resinous, and sticky pitch can exude out of pitch pockets in the wood unless the wood is heated to set the pitch, like in a kiln.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30560 posts in 3144 days

#3 posted 04-03-2016 12:14 PM

Do not seal it. When building with it, I only finish the sides that are on the outside. Part of the reason people like it is the smell. However, insects don’t like the smell so they stay away.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2843 posts in 3727 days

#4 posted 04-03-2016 04:21 PM

I work with eastern red cedar a lot. I only apply finish to the outside of boxes. Interiors, I leave unfinished. The color will fade very quickly on the outside where light hits it. Just a day or two in sunlight. Inside of my boxes do not fade much at all. Never had a problem with resin.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 2258 days

#5 posted 04-03-2016 05:38 PM

Beware of western red cedar (not your matl) is listed as a known carcinogen and the sawdust needs to be treated as hazmat. Again this is western red cedar and not Eastern red cedar.

This has been a public service announcement!


-- Madmark - [email protected]

View AmericanPatriot's profile


10 posts in 1642 days

#6 posted 04-03-2016 08:10 PM

Thanks for the advice guys. I knew I could get some knowledgable answers here.

I bought about 93 bf of rough cut ERC for about $1.70/bf. Is that a good price?


View bigblockyeti's profile


6638 posts in 2526 days

#7 posted 11-06-2019 08:32 PM

Ok, I know I’m necroposting, but for those interested in the speed at which the color can leave eastern red cedar when exposed to the sun and in my recent experience, it’s very fast!
This was taken on 11/1 at 10:39am right after being uncovered, two days after it was milled and immediately covered with a tarp

This was taken at 12:53pm

Here’s a closer shot of where the tarp was covering only part of the boards.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View ibewjon's profile


1768 posts in 3599 days

#8 posted 11-07-2019 12:01 AM

And the aroma doesn’t last long either. I wish it did.

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