redcedar is reported to occur in Alberta, British Columbia,
Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.
It is reported to form widespread forests with Western hemlock,
and also with other conifers. It prefers moist, slightly
acid soils. Western redcedar is also reported to be
cultivated (from seedlings in nurseries) as a source of timber
in Britain and France.
General Characteristics: The
tree is described as often large to very large, producing
a tapering trunk that is buttressed at the base. The
height of the mature tree is reported to be 100 to 175
feet (30 to 53 m), with a trunk diameter of 2 to 8 feet
(0.6 to 2.4 m). It produces a clear bole that is usually
free from side branches for many feet up, which means the
outer layers of the tree are knot free and clear. This
feature is reported to make Western redcedar timber especially
suitable for high-class joinery and woodwork. The freshly-cut
heartwood is reported to vary in color from dark chocolate-brown
to salmon pink, sometimes variegated. The color ages to
reddish brown and eventually to silver
gray. The wood is much sought after for its 'weathered'
appearance; the narrow sapwood is whitish in color and
is clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Sapwood
width is reported to be seldom greater than 1 inch (2.5
cm) in mature trees. Texture is coarse, and is reported
to be much coarser than in Redwood. The grain is typically
straight, and even. The wood is reported to have a sweet,
fragrant or cedary smell, and a faint bitter taste.
Weight: Basic specific gravity
(ovendry weight/green volume) 0.32; air-dry density 22
Working Properties: Cutting
resistance is reported to be small, but the wood has a
tendency to fray during cross-cutting. Western Red Cedar
is reported to have excellent planing properties. It is
a very popular timber and is considered to be one of the
major lumber species in the United States and Canada. The
material is reported to turn very well. Moulding qualities
are rated as very good. Western Red Cedar is reported to
respond very well to boring. The wood is reported to have
very good mortising characteristics. Red cedar is reported
to be highly favored for riving shingles and shims since
its straight grain allows it to be split easily and predictably.
The material is reported to have excellent resistance to
splitting in nailing. Nail holding properties are
good. Screwing properties are rated as excellent and screw-holding
qualities are good. Gluing characteristics are rated as
excellent. The wood is reported to have good polishing
characteristics. The wood is reported to stain well. Steam
bending properties are rated as poor. The wood is reported
to work well with hand tools.
Durability: Western redcedar
is reported to have very high natural resistance to decay
because of large amounts of extractives. It is reported
to perform very well in contact with the ground, under
most climates, without any kind of preservative treatment.
The mild winters in the British Isle are reported to be
an exception, since they tend to promote decay. Seasoned
Western redcedar wood is also reported to be susceptible
to attack by the common furniture beetle.
Preservation: It is resistant
to preservative treatment.