Is this Western Red Cedar

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Forum topic by SpottedGum posted 01-28-2017 09:46 AM 1517 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13 posts in 2023 days

01-28-2017 09:46 AM

So I ended up with some cedar 140mm x 30mm x about 40 lin m today. They came out of an old house being demolished and were skirting boards. I planned the paint off one of the boards and it appears to be Western Red Cedar. But the cedar talked about within Lumberjocks mentions hard horrible knots but none of these timbers have any knots and the grain is mostly straight

. One piece is over 4.5m long. So can anyone please identify my boards. And I always thought this type of cedar is too soft for furniture making, but would they make a nice chest of draws?
The old house was built say 1950’s in Australia.

19 replies so far

View clin's profile


1128 posts in 2239 days

#1 posted 01-28-2017 04:42 PM

Coastal, western red cedar trees grow very large, like redwoods, and are known for producing very large, clear, straight grain boards. Your board certainly looks like western red cedar.

I’m not sure who was saying red cedar is full of knots. Like any wood, there are lower grades with correspondingly more knots. The lowest grades are what you commonly see as fence boards at the BORG.

It also matters where the trees grow. Even though it is the same species. Western red cedar that grows on the east side of the rockies, known as inland red cedar, is very yellow in color and the trees are much smaller. I’m not sure if clear grades of inland red cedar even exist.

The inland and coastal version of boards look so different, you wouldn’t think they come from the same tree species.

-- Clin

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6748 posts in 3552 days

#2 posted 01-28-2017 06:10 PM

I can’t tell by the photo, I even turned my head horizontally.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View a1Jim's profile


118253 posts in 4820 days

#3 posted 01-28-2017 06:18 PM

With the hand planning marks, it’s pretty hard to see the color and grain. I can’t really tell either.


View JollyGreen67's profile


1676 posts in 4006 days

#4 posted 01-28-2017 06:19 PM


-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected ! RIP 09/08/2018

View Steve's profile


192 posts in 3243 days

#5 posted 01-29-2017 03:01 AM

Western Red Cedar.

View firefighterontheside's profile


21501 posts in 3099 days

#6 posted 01-29-2017 03:54 AM

Western red cedar can vary greatly in color. It can be brown like your picture or very light as in Steves picture. If somebody is gonna go thru the expense of shipping WRC to Australia, I would imagine it would be some pretty clear stuff with no knots.

Also, people sometimes talk about red cedar, but don’t say whether they mean western or eastern. They are not related at all, other than the fact they’re both conifers. Eastern red cedar is a juniper that does indeed have a lot of very hard knots.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View wood2woodknot's profile


111 posts in 3216 days

#7 posted 01-29-2017 04:25 AM

With the hand planning marks, it s pretty hard to see the color and grain. I can t really tell either.

- a1Jim

..... or the smell.

-- ajh

View runswithscissors's profile


3134 posts in 3268 days

#8 posted 01-29-2017 04:57 AM

Old growth heartwood wester red cedar can look like your photo. The chest pictured appears to have a lot of sapwood. Still could be cedar.

I think too soft for a chest of drawers. Maybe okay for a cedar chest, as in the photo.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View SpottedGum's profile


13 posts in 2023 days

#9 posted 01-29-2017 05:50 AM

I docked the ends and took some more photos with an iphone rather than my Samsung. I could not smell anything up against the cut and I have a reasonable sensitive nose. It appears very soft like cedar would be.
Thanks for your time so far.

View jerryminer's profile


962 posts in 2684 days

#10 posted 01-29-2017 07:22 AM

Starting to look like redwood. Was redwood commonly used in Australia?

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View SpottedGum's profile


13 posts in 2023 days

#11 posted 01-29-2017 09:34 AM

Not that I know of. So I did some calcs and measured that this timber weights in at 375kg/cum (+/- 10% because of my scales) so its looking like maybe too soft for any decent furniture?, as runwithscissors said. I can dent the surface pressing hard with my finger nail

View EricTwice's profile


248 posts in 1776 days

#12 posted 01-29-2017 11:02 AM

It does look like redwood. Nice quarter-sawn stock too. Tap on it and see if it resonates.

Can you work around the nail holes and use it for musical instrument sound boards?

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View firefighterontheside's profile


21501 posts in 3099 days

#13 posted 01-29-2017 02:07 PM

Looks like old growth Douglas fir.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Aj2's profile


4069 posts in 3041 days

#14 posted 01-29-2017 03:15 PM

My vote is for Redwood.Since cedar and Dougfir wood both have a smell.


-- Aj

View clin's profile


1128 posts in 2239 days

#15 posted 01-29-2017 03:35 PM

The density is spot on for western red cedar but is similar for redwood. I’m not sure there is much practical difference. Both are light weight, soft and tend to splinter and split easily.

I agree that it is not ideal wood for a chest of drawers. Also, western red cedar is not aromatic cedar that is used to line cedar chests. I believe aromatic cedar is eastern red cedar. Though I’m no expert.

If all the wood is clear and quarter sawn, like the piece in you picture, that’s some nice wood. But I would look for an application that can take advantage of the primary qualities of that wood, resistant to insects and rotting. In other words, an outdoor project. Not that cedar isn’t used indoors, but it’s usually archectectual rather than furnishings.

That wood would make for great outdoor furniture, such as a bench. Still have to watch those splinters. Planters would be another good application. Gates, arbors and other outdoor structures.

-- Clin

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