Cedar, one of the most beautiful woods to work with, has four major types and a long history in woodworking for furniture, wood paneling, boats and canoes, toys, jewelry boxes, fence posts, veneers and various home building projects.
Alaska Yellow Cedar
The botanical name for Alaska yellow cedar is Chamaecyparis Nootkaensis. Other common names are yellow cedar, Pacific Coast yellow cedar, nootka false cypress, and yellow cypress. Because of the straight grain, fine texture, and pale yellow body, furniture manufacturers use this variety for custom furniture, boat makers use it in boat designs, and custom lumber companies use it for veneers. Moderately priced, Alaska yellow cedar is affordable for any woodworking budget.
Aromatic cedar, with its prized aroma, is by far the most common type of cedar. Known scientifically as Juniperus Viginiana, and called red cedar, Eastern red cedar, Tennessee red cedar, or juniper, it grows in Canada and the eastern United States. Although it has a straight grain, aromatic cedar also has numerous knots, making it susceptible to breaking and chipping. This type of cedar works great for woodcarvings, paneling in closets and drawers, and is a common wood for building hope chests and outdoor furniture. Aromatic cedar is inexpensive and fits just about any woodworker's budget.
Western Red Cedar
Western red cedar trees can grow as tall at 150 feet high. The botanical name is Thuja Plicata, and this is one of the most durable and lightweight of all softwoods. It is ideal for creating outdoor furniture. Because of the width of the tree and its unique finished look, woodcrafters often select it for use in hope chests, jewelry boxes, and handcrafted cedar desks. Custom home builders also use Western red cedar in entertainment areas like billiard rooms and saunas. This cedar is moderately priced and available at upscale lumber companies.
Very popular with woodworkers because of its resistance to decay, white cedar works great for canoes, shingles, and many other exterior wood projects. Scientifically known as Thuja Occidentialis and commonly called arborvitae, Eastern white cedar or swamp cedar, white cedar is not known for its strength as much as for its versatility. It has a straight grain, an even textured surface, and a light-brown-heartwood and white-sapwood color blend. This variety is great for boat building, fence posts, and decorative fencing. White cedar is inexpensive and ordered through large hardware stores.