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Red Cedar Wood Uses?

 
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What are some uses for Red Cedar wood, if any? A property I'm working on has some mid-size red cedar (maybe two feet in diameter at the base) that have to come down due to safety concerns. I'm trying to educate myself in all their uses so I don't waste it
 
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I love working with red cedar. It takes so nicely to hand saws!

I have used it to make a bunch of small structures. Movable chicken tractors, chicken coop on a trailer, gates, garden stakes!. The outside of our house is covered with cedar 1x8s. Our deck was made from 100% cedar, which i milled.


I really enjoy the smell of the wood.

I have covered the roof of a hay shed with cedar shakes.


All of our wooden fences posts are cedar.


How healthy are the trees? Do they have a bunch of branches or are they clear in some sections? What are the conditions the trees are growing in? Is it growing on a rocky bluff, or in a swamp/area with sufficient water?

Around here red cedar sells for quite alot of money. I have heard 3$ a board foot. And i have even heard up to 17$ a board foot for clear edge grain wood.


I have used the boughs in baths. I find it cleansing.



The branches can be woven to make a wall lattice to put cob onto/around.

I am sure there are more uses!!
 
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Red Cedar is very valuable as an outdoor, highly rot resistant wood.  On the West Coast its only second to Redwood.  It can be used for just about everything outdoors ... its not as strong as pine or fir so its generally not a structural wood.

just don't turn it into firewood.
 
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Love love love red cedar. Beautiful tree when alive. Beautiful wood when dead. In addition to the uses mentioned, I love the smell of burning cedar.  Should be plenty of branches and scraps left over to enjoy in the campfire.  

Is there anything more beautiful than a 100 year old chunky-trunk cedar?
 
James Landreth
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Thank you, all! If I were to use it to build arbors and pergolas, how long would it last untreated? Are there ways I can treat it that would make it last longer outside? I know it's pretty rot resistant but want it to last
 
Eliot Mason
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James - arbors and pergolas are an IDEAL use for this wood.  In terms of how long it will last ... obviously there are questions of conditions and the wood qualities (the redder the better).  I'd suggest 10-20 years.  Careful construction and maintenance to minimize water penetration can significantly extend this time - I tend to coat only truly horizontal surfaces that hold water on them and I prefer designs that minimize  pockets of moisture... this is really easy with pergolas as they are essentially stacked layers and you can avoid deck-style construction with skirt boards affixed to butted cross pieces.
 
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Yes , Western Red Cedar is a wonderful outdoor wood.  
Not nearly as aromatic as eastern red  cedar but still a great smelling wood.
Like any wood it will grey with age if you leave it natural.
A yearly application of something like watco oil would keep it looking almost like new.
 
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We used red cedar for some arbors, and while the above- ground wood seems rot- resistant,  the part in contact with soil rotted out in 5 years.  We had filled the postholes with sand and crushed rock (paver base), but that was not enough to keep it from rotting.  I found out that this is pretty standard life span.
 
James Landreth
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Mk Neal wrote:We used red cedar for some arbors, and while the above- ground wood seems rot- resistant,  the part in contact with soil rotted out in 5 years.  We had filled the postholes with sand and crushed rock (paver base), but that was not enough to keep it from rotting.  I found out that this is pretty standard life span.



Good to know. I wonder if sinking it into concrete would help?
 
thomas rubino
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No James,  not a good idea. Putting wood directly into concrete always rots.
However a sonitube of concrete with a metal bracket to attach your post too would work great.
 
Eliot Mason
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5 years seems really short.  I've got split rail cedar posts that I think are about 50 years old ... they're not in great shape and just push over ... but they are there and upright.   In Wisconsin I had a pair of gates posts in gravel for ~10 years with no rot.

Again, local conditions (water, temperature), installation style, and variation in the quality of the wood itself make historical comparisons difficult.

I'm convinced that the idea of setting posts in concrete is a plot by the cement and the fence industry to a) sell cement an b) rot out your fence quickly.  The cement holds the water against the post, and its even worse if the foot is set in cement.  In many climates a cement collar just facilitates frost heave as well.  So I just pack gravel around the post.  It will eventually fill in with dirt, but until then  the water can drain away, there is no mixing, no water is required and there is no added carbon.
 
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If you have clear-grained logs and want the most rot-resistant parts for outdoor use, try to split off the heartwood from the sapwood.  This will be more easily done if you first split the log at least into quarters.  The heartwood is the dark red, highly aromatic center of the log, and this will last much longer in any outdoor use, including ground contact, than the whitish outer sapwood.
 
Mk Neal
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Eliot Mason wrote:5 years seems really short.  I've got split rail cedar posts that I think are about 50 years old ... they're not in great shape and just push over ... but they are there and upright.   In Wisconsin I had a pair of gates posts in gravel for ~10 years with no rot.

Again, local conditions (water, temperature), installation style, and variation in the quality of the wood itself make historical comparisons difficult.



The one that rotted first and had to be completely replaced was in a spot near gutter runoff.  The other 4 are still standing, but outer inch or do of wood is rotted away. I found these steel supports made for just this problem, kind of a splint that you drive into the dirt maybe 18 inches deep, and attach the top with screws to good wood above ground.

I agree concrete probably would not be any better than the sand and crushed rock.
 
James Landreth
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A friend suggested charring the bottoms of the poles to help waterproof and increase longevity. What are your thoughts on that?
 
Eliot Mason
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Charring certainly doesn't hurt - so long as you stay on a char and don't advance to a burn!   I have some trim wood treated this way and its been disappointing, nearly washing off after 5 years.  I think the effect varies with the wood and the depth of the char.

Science (tm) tells us that this works, and even if not done well and to no effect you get to play with fire so there's that.


 
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