Is Cedar Wood Good for Woodworking?


When I first got into woodworking, I loved learning about the different wood types and what makes them unique. Now that I have been woodworking for a while, I learned quite a bit about it, so I thought I’d put together this quick article about what cedar wood is good for based on my extensive research and experience.

So, what is cedarwood good for? Cedar meets the building codes in North America to be used for the foundations and beams of homes, according to ABSwood.com. It has a high Janka rating, which is a scientific measurement of a wood’s hardness. Also, cedar gets used as the top for Flamenco guitars because of its resonant qualities.

Whether you’re new to woodworking or are an experienced woodworker, cedar is a solid choice for a lot of projects.

But, how does it compare to other similar woods, what are the different types of cedar, and what do they normally retail for? Read on to discover the answers to these questions and more…

What are pros and cons of cedar wood?

You’re probably wondering if cedar wood is suited for you and the project you’re working on. And if there are any drawbacks. So, in this section I will discuss the pros and cons of cedar wood, so you can decide if it’s right for you.

Here’s what they are:

The pros of using cedar wood

It has resonant qualities

Cedar wood is used in constructing musical instruments, particularly guitars according to Wikipedia. It is commonly used as the top of flamenco guitars which are originally found around Spain.

Each kind of wood has its own sound. A person who has developed the musical ear, can tell the difference between a cedar topped guitar and a cherry. Cedar gives a thick and fat quality to the sound the guitar produces. Making it sound more full.

It’s resistant to swelling

Cedar wood grows in damp climates, and as a result it has adapted to not swell and warp as much when it rains, and the weather gets more humid. This is an especially sought after quality for wood. As warping and swelling makes the wood crack and loosens nails, according to Hunker.com.

It’s strong for its weight

Cedar wood is one of the lightest woods used in woodworking. But, it is strong considering how light it is. According to ABS Wood it meets the building codes of the USA to be used as the foundation, support beams, and any other application for building a dwelling.

However, if you are planning on using it to build a home, you should check with the specific Cedar you are using, as there are many different varieties, and colors.

One way to do this is to check with the company you are buying it from. They will usually have that information readily available on hand. A good resource is the American Wood Council.

Each State has its own standards and regulations for what wood can and can’t be used in construction.

It comes in a variety of colors

Because it’s strong and lightweight it is sought after for a range of applications. And also it comes in a few different colors. Which makes it even more versatile. Cedar can be sourced in light brown to cream color all the way to a deep red brown.

The lighter colors are found in the sapwood, which is the outer layer of a trunk of a tree. This wood has a grain and very few knots.

The darker colors come from the heartwood, which is towards the center of the tree, and has more knots. When you’re buying cedar for a project. You want to confirm what color it is.

Otherwise, you might get different colors, which can look a bit funny on the exterior of a building for example. But, this can be personal preference, and can add a unique character to your project. And gives a story a story to go along with it.

It has naturally resistant chemicals

Although, many types of wood have bug and fungi resistant chemicals. Cedar is in this list, which makes it very hardy, and so it will last a long time. Fungi such as certain types of mushrooms naturally grow on wood.

When the mushrooms extract nutrients to feed themselves, they break down the wood – and the surface of the wood gets a bit weaker with each season that the fungi that grows on it. Because of the chemical and hardness qualities of cedar, fungi has a hard time growing on it.

It is aromatic

Cedar is the name of a genus that covers many different types of wood. But, there are certain varieties that are naturally aromatic. So, when you use them within your home and on your woodworking projects you will often be pleasantly surprised with their aroma. A popular type of cedar that has this quality is Redwood cedar or Juniperus Virginiana, according to Timber Town.

So, if you’re considering using cedar try to go for this type, or enquire as to it’s aromatic qualities.

Now, that I’ve covered the advantages of cedar wood, I’ll explain the drawbacks to using it below:

The cons of using cedar wood

It can be a bit pricey

Cedar is quite popular because of how strong it is for its weight. Which means it’s easier to transport, and work with. This makes the demand for it go up. Looking at a price comparison between cedar and other popular woods.

According to Wooduchoose.com, Cedar is 15th on the list from most expensive to cheapest.

But, it isn’t as expensive as Teak. I recently wrote an article explaining [link: why Teak is so expensive].

Improve.net found that the average cost of cedar decking is

  • $6.56 per linear foot (4 to 6 inches thick) on average for the highest quality cedar
  • $5.43 per linear foot (4 to 6 inches thick) for the cheapest cedar
  • $7.70 per linear foot (4 to 6 inches thick) for the most expensive cedar

Over time it’s color changes

Over time when cedar is exposed to the elements, it changes from it’s starting color to a grey. And gives it a more rustic and weathered look.

However, this happens with virtually every type of wood. If you finish it regularly to protect it from the elements it will retain its original color for a lot longer. This is usually done every 3 to 5 years according to Baltic Exteriors.

Some people like the silvery grey look that it gets. So, this can technically be a pro or a con. But, keep it in mind if you are deciding between using it for the outside of a home, or for an outdoor bird feeder for example.

In Conclusion

Cedar wood is good for home foundations, beams, and the exterior of buildings. That’s because it’s very hard, strong, and light. It is also used as the top of guitars because it adds a unique thick sound to the music.

It comes in a range of colors – the heartwood is a deep browney red, and the sapwood is a light brown to cream color. So, you can match different colors to other types of wood, or to itself to create some unique and interesting products.

On top of that it has other positive qualities such as certain types have aromatic qualities, which give off a pleasant scent.

If you’re interested in the different types of woodworking projects you can make, then take a look at my recommended projects for beginner, intermediate, and advanced woodworkers by clicking [here: Link to resources page]. 

I also have many other helpful guides on making a wood shop, so take a look at my [blog: link to blog page/homepage] to see if there are any other helpful articles you are interested in.

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