Wood Species


Aromatic Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Heartwood tends to be a reddish or violet-brown. Sapwood is a pale yellow color, and can appear throughout the heartwood as streaks and stripes. Has a straight grain, usually with knots present. Has a very fine even texture. Regarded as excellent in resistance to both decay and insect attack, Aromatic Red Cedar is frequently used for fence posts used in direct ground contact with no pre-treating of the wood. Overall, Aromatic Red Cedar is easy to work, notwithstanding any knots or irregularities present in the wood. Aromatic Red Cedar glues and finishes well, though in many applications, the wood is left unfinished to preserve its aromatic properties.

Common Uses: Fence posts, closet and chest linings, carvings, outdoor furniture, birdhouses, pencils, bows, and small wooden specialty items.

Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides)

Heartwood is a light reddish brown. Narrow sapwood is pale yellow-brown to almost white and is clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Grain is straight, with a fine uniform texture. Durable to very durable regarding decay resistance. Easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Holds paint well. Stains, glues, and finishes well.

Common Uses: Boatbuilding, carving, siding, shingles, and construction lumber.

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani)

Heartwood is a cream to light reddish brown color. Narrow sapwood is a pale yellowish white. Grain is generally straight, though knots or bark inclusions may cause grain irregularities. Medium to coarse texture with a moderate natural luster. Rated as very durable, and generally resistant to insect attack. Easy to work with hand and machine tools, though knots and bark inclusions can cause difficulties in machining. Turns, glues, and finishes well.

Common Uses: Veneer, cabinetry, building construction, and turned objects.

Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)

Heartwood is light to medium reddish brown. Sapwood is differentiated from heartwood and is light tan to off-white. It’s not uncommon for boards to contain pockets of partially decayed wood (peck) due to fungal attack. Grain is straight, with a medium to fine uniform texture. Despite the commonness of pockets of fungal decay (sometimes referred to as “pecky cedar”), dried wood is rated as durable to very durable in regards to decay resistance, and the wood is sometimes used for fence posts on account of its good weathering characteristics. Easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Holds paint very well. Stains, glues, and finishes well. Excellent dimensional stability. Incense Cedar is one of the primary woods used in making pencils, and has a spicy odor that’s commonly associated with pencils.

Common Uses: Pencils, Venetian blinds, fence posts, construction lumber, sheathing, siding, chests, and various exterior furniture applications.

Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)

Heartwood is pale brown or tan, while the narrow sapwood is nearly white. Numerous small knots are common in the wood.Grain is usually straight, with a fine, even texture. Moderate natural luster. Rated as durable to very durable regarding decay resistance; also resistant to termites and powder post beetles. Northern White Cedar has good overall working characteristics, and works easily with both hand and machine tools. However, the wood is both soft and weak, giving it poor screw-holding capabilities. Northern White Cedar glues and finishes well.

Common Uses: Fences, posts, shingles, piles, canoes, outdoor furniture, railroad ties, and paper (pulpwood).

Port Orford Cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)

Heartwood is a light yellowish brown. Sapwood is pale yellow-brown to almost white and isn’t clearly distinguished from the heartwood. Color tends to darken with age upon exposure to light, (though when left exposed outdoors it weathers to a uniform gray). Port Orford Cedar is sometimes used for making arrow shafts, and the grain is “straight as an arrow,” with a uniform medium to fine texture. Rated as durable to very durable regarding decay resistance, and also resistant to most insect attacks. Easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Holds paint well. Stains, glues, and finishes well.

Common Uses: Arrow shafts, musical instruments (soundboards on guitars), boatbuilding, boxes and chests, decking, and various interior millwork applications.

Spanish Cedar (Cedrela odorata)

Heartwood is a relatively uniform  light pinkish to reddish brown; colors tend to darken with age. Random pockets of gum and natural oils are commonly present. Grain patterning and figure tends to be somewhat bland. Grain is straight or shallowly interlocked. Medium texture and moderate natural luster. Ranges from durable to moderately durable regarding decay resistance, and is also resistant to termite attack; the wood is also reported to have excellent weathering characteristics. Older, slower-growing trees from the wild tend to produce wood that is more durable than wood from younger, plantation-grown trees. Easy to work with both hand and machine tools. However, due to its low density and softness, tends to leave fuzzy surfaces if not machined with sharp cutters; extra sanding up to finer grits may be required to obtain a smooth wood surface.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, cabinetry, musical instruments, (flamenco and classical guitars), humidors, and boatbuilding.

Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)

Heartwood reddish to pinkish brown, often with random streaks and bands of darker red/brown areas. Narrow sapwood is pale yellowish white, and isn’t always sharply demarcated from the heartwood. Has a straight grain and a medium to coarse texture. 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. 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.

Common Uses: Shingles, exterior siding and lumber, boatbuilding, boxes, crates, and musical instruments.