Port Orford Cedar

Port Orford Cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)
Port Orford Cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)

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Common Name(s): Port Orford Cedar, Lawson’s Cypress

Scientific Name: Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

Distribution: Pacific northwest United States

Tree Size: 150-200 ft (45-60 m) tall, 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 29 lbs/ft3 (465 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .39, .47

Janka Hardness: 590 lbf (2,620 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 12,290 lbf/in2 (84.8 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,646,000 lbf/in2 (11.35 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 6,080 lbf/in2 (41.9 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.6%, Tangential: 6.9%, Volumetric: 10.1%, T/R Ratio: 1.5

Color/Appearance: 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).

Grain/Texture: 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.

Endgrain: Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition gradual, color contrast medium; tracheid diameter medium-large; zonate parenchyma.

Rot Resistance: Reported to be durable to very durable regarding decay resistance, and also resistant to most insect attacks. (Also reported to have good resistance to acid corrosion—Port Orford Cedar was used for storage battery separators during and prior to World War II.)

Workability: Easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Holds paint well. Stains, glues, and finishes well.

Odor: Port Orford Cedar has a pungent, ginger-like scent.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Port Orford Cedar has been reported to cause skin irritation, runny nose, and asthma-like symptoms in some individuals. Because prolonged and continual inhalation of the sawdust is known to cause kidney problems, many occupational workers wear face masks when working with Port Orford Cedar. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Due to the limited growing range, Port Orford Cedar’s demand usually exceeds its supply. Expect availability to be limited, and prices to very high for a domestic softwood wood species. Many logs are exported to Japan for use in woodenware, toys, and other small novelties, as well as for repair and construction in houses, shrines, and temples.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by exploitation, and the fungal root infection Phytophthora lateralis.

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

Comments: So named because it was first discovered near Port Orford in Oregon. Port Orford Cedar is perhaps a hidden gem in the realm of strong, lightweight timber, possessing superb strength-to-weight ratios in both modulus of elasticity and modulus of rupture, as well as crushing strength.

Related Species:

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Port Orford Cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)
Port Orford Cedar (sanded)

Port Orford Cedar (sanded)
Port Orford Cedar (sanded)

Port Orford Cedar (endgrain)
Port Orford Cedar (endgrain)

Port Orford Cedar (endgrain 10x)
Port Orford Cedar (endgrain 10x)
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I am doing a Science Olympiad project and our list of trees to research has this listed as the Oregon cedar as well. Just thought you should know

Joel Carlson

New to this database, I am. As a retired database software engineer (I speak SQL). I have some queries for this one. Compare and list by hardness and crushing strength…. That sort of query :-) Geek that I am. I just came into (milled actually, from a really old log!) about 150 BF of POC. I milled it myself, on a friend’s mill. Good fun! It’s all 5/4 planks with a healthy mix of grain. I may even get a guitar top out of it! I have been to Port Orford many times, I think I may have even lived… Read more »

Stephen Schwartz

Can Port Orford cedar be used for exterior wood siding? Will VG work better than MG?

B.R. Clifton

Once upon a time it was used for commercial arrow shafts.


There seem to be Cedars of the Chamaecyparis genus growing wild in the mountains of central New Mexico, if not Port Orford Cedar itself. I was hiking through the woods here in Santa Fe, New Mexico and lopped off a branch of a Cedar tree to make a walking stick out of. And there was that same distinctive Port Orford Cedar scent. The bark seems to be very much like that of what I have seen in photos of Port Orford Cedar. If there is Port Orford Cedar growing here, that is quite a bit outside of the purported natural… Read more »


The easiest way to tell is to turn over the scales and look at the underside. If you see little “X”s, it is POC. The only other cedars we have here are Thuja Plicata and some incense cedar here and there. Not sure what other cedars you have in NM.


The scent of Port Orford Cedar isn’t anything like Ginger! I smelled it, and it is more like Acetone or nail polish remover.

mike Hobby

just spent a bunh of hours flattening a slab for a desk top, definitely smells like ginger.


Guitar with Port Orford Cedar top – salvaged old growth wood with wide grain and interesting figure. Back and sides are Black Locust.


What brand of guitar is this? Where can I find one?

David Breeze

I built it! I’m an amateur and not ready to build on commission, but you could probably find a local luthier to build one. I would be happy to advise the luthier on specs and detailing. The shape is sort of an OM/dreadnought hybrid, with a small upper bout and big lower bout. It has very good volume and tone. The top wood came from Oregon Wildwood aka tonewood.com. https://tonewood.com/guitar-wood/acoustic-guitar-tonewood-sets/port-orford-cedar-acoustic-back-and-side-sets.html The back and sides are black locust from the same source. Unfortunately they can no longer get it. I don’t know of another source. Osage orange would be a good… Read more »


I was reminded today that every piece of wood is unique and tables of properties may be misleading. References say that Port Orford Cedar averages 29 lb/cu ft and Khaya averages 40 lb/cu ft. BUT – I weighed 4 guitar neck blanks today: 3 PO cedar and one Khaya. They are precisely the same dimensions – 1″ x 3″ x 35″ and have been stored under identical conditions for many months. The PO blanks weigh 830g, 910g and 935g in spite of nearly identical appearance. The Khaya blank weighs 805g! Not what I expected when I bought the wood online.

Mario Cargol

Once dried i find it to be the very best boatbuilding wood possible. Almost as nice as sitka spruce strenght/weight ratio and naturally rootproof. Nice ginger smell as you work it.
But if not dried at all it warps

John VP

I have some stumps that I think are POC. One amazing one 31″ was hollow and had a perfect heart right down the middle. I found these in different spots but all within 10 MI from the Oregon border on the coast. The smaller one has 368 rings and the bigger one with the heart has 254. I’m having a tough time identifying these with any of the guys locally. It matches all the descriptions and the coloring and there is no red. Any thoughts?

John VP

The cookie with the heart is almost 3′ across and has 254 rings and a smaller stump that is the same wood has 346 rings but 13″ across the top and 22″ at the base x 18″ I’m still haven’t been able to identify them 100%?