Aromatic Red Cedar

Aromatic Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Aromatic Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

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Common Name(s): Aromatic Red Cedar, Eastern Redcedar

Scientific Name: Juniperus virginiana

Distribution: Eastern North America

Tree Size: 100-115 ft (30-35 m) tall, 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 33 lbs/ft3 (530 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .44, .53

Janka Hardness: 900 lbf (4,000 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 8,800 lbf/in2 (60.7 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 880,000 lbf/in2 (6.07 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 6,020 lbf/in2 (41.5 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 3.1%, Tangential: 4.7%, Volumetric: 7.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.5

Color/Appearance: 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.

Grain/Texture: Has a straight grain, usually with knots present. Has a very fine even texture.

Endgrain: Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition gradual, grain moderately uneven to moderately even; tracheid diameter small to very small; zonate parenchyma (double ring).

Rot Resistance: 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.

Workability: Overall, Aromatic Red Cedar is easy to work, notwithstanding any knots or irregularities present in the wood. It reportedly has a high silica content, which can dull cutters. Aromatic Red Cedar glues and finishes well, though in many applications, the wood is left unfinished to preserve its aromatic properties.

Odor: Aromatic Red Cedar has a distinct and tell-tale scent: the wood is commonly used in closets and chests to repel moths and other insects.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Aromatic Red Cedar has been reported to cause skin and respiratory irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Large and/or clear sections of Aromatic Red Cedar are much less common, but smaller, narrower boards with knots present are readily available at a modest price.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.

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

Comments: Although Aromatic Red Cedar is included in the cypress family (Cupressaceae) which includes many species of cedar, it’s perhaps more closely related in junipers in the genus Juniperus. In tree form, it is more commonly called Eastern Redcedar, while the wood itself is usually referred to as Aromatic Red Cedar.

Though Eastern Redcedar trees are widely distributed throughout the eastern half of the United States, it is a very slow-growing species, and most trees harvested tend to be fairly small in diameter. Because of this, Aromatic Red Cedar boards tend to be knotty and narrow.

Related Species:

Scans/Pictures:

Aromatic Red Cedar (sanded)
Aromatic Red Cedar (sanded)

Aromatic Red Cedar (sealed)
Aromatic Red Cedar (sealed)

Aromatic Red Cedar (endgrain)
Aromatic Red Cedar (endgrain)

Aromatic Red Cedar (endgrain 10x)
Aromatic Red Cedar (endgrain 10x)

Eastern Red Cedar (29" x 5.8")
Eastern Red Cedar (29″ x 5.8″)

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Chuck
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Chuck

Is commonly-available aromatic cedar suitable to use to construct a pinched-toe coffin?

If so, would 3/4″ plank thickness generally be sufficient?

David
Guest

I build tree houses and work in an area where there are lots of Aromatic red cedar. Would you recommend using it for posts to hold up the tree house? Any tips on how I should bury them in the ground?

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

Red cedar is an excellent choice for this application, but you have to make sure you use the red portion of the tree below ground. The red portion is almost rot proof and will lay a long time, but the white part will rot quickly.

Robyn Stinchcomb
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Robyn Stinchcomb

I would like to use 8x8x10 eastern cedar posts to support the front of a porch. I was just told they might not not be very durable in this application. Would love some feedback. I can use western cedar but it is not near as pretty. These posts will be set in concrete. Thoughts?

F.Gail Hopper
Guest
F.Gail Hopper

Best if the end of the post to be set in concrete is all red heartwood. We do that very frequently and have excellent results. We have used ERC for porch columns for many years and definitely prefer them over WRC. ERC does not split and open up like WRC.

Juan Villarreal
Guest
Juan Villarreal

I hate working with cedar because in my experience it is so very fragile and weak to loads but I love how it looks. Here is a chart I carved out of cedar. I didn’t want it smooth and I used linseed oil ad the finish

Juan Villarreal
Guest
Juan Villarreal

I meant to say heart. Also it looks nice on pens and can be turned extremely fast but I still would not recommend for large projects due to its fast cracking and easy damage.

Eli Wipf
Guest
Eli Wipf

which varnish would I use so I don’t lose my pink color on a grandfathers clock

Al
Guest
Al

I want to use red cedar for building recording studio furniture… console desk, rack cabinets, etc.
Parts of each project will not be easily visible, and it seems like a shame to waste red cedar on the “invisible” parts of the furniture.

I am wondering what other woods that are more plentiful and less expensive can be used along with the red cedar? Will I run into issues with glue adhesion, edge joinery, or warping?
Thanks!

Paul
Guest

We have an enquiry for Red Cedar to be used in a museum for shelves.
1200mm wide x 600mm deep x 25mm thick to support a load weight of up to 30kg.
Our client has asked if Red Cedar has similar properties to the American Lime and if you have any experience of the Red Cedar being used within a Museum Collection ~ if so where?
American Lime is often used for Entomology trays in museums.

Robert Campbell
Guest
Robert Campbell

I used to have a sawmill and harvested my own red cedar lumber, air dried it, and used it to make furniture. I tried several methods of finishing and found that so far the best, cheapest, and easiest finish on red cedar furniture is clear spray paint in a can! Use a light coat to seal, dries very quickly. Lightly fine sand and use a tack rag between coats and stack layers of coats until you get the desired finish and avoid overspray on finished areas. The main reason that the pinkish color of this wood goes amber is mostly… Read more »

Scott
Guest

First comment, big fan of the hard work behind this site!
I harvested some eastern red cedar while cleaning up a private family cemetery plot. I made a bunch of these wine goblets for family keepsakes. This was a dream to turn while green, though because of the knots I would not turn small cedar logs when dry. Just a guess, but I bet the knots would make your project explode.

Cassie Bingham
Guest
Cassie Bingham

Some more pics

Cassie Bingham
Guest
Cassie Bingham

Hi guys, I have a bedroom suite and I’ve been told that it’s r3e cedar however when I looked up the maker Beith Scotland I found they mainly used mahogany. Can you tell from these pics what wood it’s made out of?

Mel
Guest
Mel

Hi. I can’t say for certain that it’s mahogany (although it looks like it). But I do know it’s not aromatic cedar. Hope that helps. I work with cedar a lot. It looks nothing like your piece.

Patty
Guest
Patty

I just lined my closet with Cedar wood that was stored in a cottage (still in original) boxes. Some of the wood has crystals all over it and doesn’t apear to have much fragrence. I think the wood is just dried out. What oils can I use (besides cedar oil which I have) to get some moisture into this wood?

Chris
Guest
Chris

I happened upon HOWARD Feed-N-Wax Wood polish and conditioner a while back and love it. I also get softer hands when done working with it. Also has a great citris smell.
Best of luck finding the right one for your needs.
C.G.

Dan
Guest
Dan

I would re-oil using a cedar oil. Giles & Kendal makes such a produck

Dave
Guest
Dave

The chemical compound in cedar oil that is toxic to insects is called “cedrol.” You want this in your cedar. I found this on a site selling cedar oil: “NOTE: Cedrol is a component of Cedarwood oil that can crystallize. If this happens, gently heat your Cedarwood oil in a hot water bath to return it to liquid consistency.” So you have plenty of cedrol in your cedar, it’s just crystallized from the cold in storage. I’d try heating up the closet (maybe with a space heater, or a heat gun if that doesn’t work) until the cedrol crystals liquify… Read more »

Ellen Hughes
Guest

It did catch my attention when you said that aromatic red cedar is commonly used in the construction of fences, closets, and outdoor furniture. My husband said that he wanted to install wood fences in our yard, so we’re looking for a type of wood that will suit what we need. I will make sure to find a cedar lumber supplier that offers aromatic red cedar woods. Thanks!

Adam
Guest
Adam

I am looking to seal the red Cedar also I have use polyurethane in the past but in time it got darker I don’t want to lose the bright reddish pink color switch to water-based Polyacrylic I would like to be able to in Rich that beautiful color and not lose it if you have any knowledge on how to keep it reddish thanks Adams

Andy
Guest
Andy

Adam,
Have you tried epoxy?
We use it every week on our cedar. Looks beautiful.

Michael Redmond
Guest
Michael Redmond
verquice
Guest
verquice

Would eastern red cedar be a good alternative to black cherry or teak for acoustic purposes, such as a speaker enclosure?

bob
Guest
bob

Thank you for this I had a strange red STRONG smelling peice of wood and I was wondering what it was. It was the Aromatic Red Cedar. It was SO strong I sanded it and turned it into a stick of deoderent. LOL :P

sheikh abraham
Guest
sheikh abraham

I was wondering if red cedar can be used in electric guitar making.And if so what part of the guitar it is best suited???

Steve
Guest
Steve

You can make the neck of the guitar with cedar but you need to choice a part of a cedar lumber without knot and you need to put a 1/2 inches to 3/4 inches piece of a solid wood like hard maple, rosewood or ebony into the center of the neck(laminated with the cedar) with the grain of this wood perpendicular to the grains of the fingerboard(the grain of the cedar parallel to the grain of the fingerboard) or a truss rod or a metal bar under the fingerboard to assure than the neck is not arch with the strings… Read more »

Emily
Guest
Emily

3-5 thin coats of rub in polyurethane work great on sealing this wood and only enhance the colors. Its also relatively cheap.

AdamKelker
Guest
AdamKelker

I am told I can affordably rebuild my entire back deck out of Eastern Red Cedar. Currently it’s 2 × 8 framed with 2 x 6 floorboards. Supported om 4 x 6 columns. The railings utilize all 2 x 4, 2 x 6 and 4 x 4 posts. It’s all butt ugly and in the shade and northern exposure in Northwest Arkansas. Lots of humidity too. Question: Would I benefit from replacing in all cedar with the exception of changing out the horrid railing from construction site style horizontal 2 x 4 railing to 2 x 2 cedar spindles? I… Read more »

F.Gail Hopper
Guest
F.Gail Hopper

ERC works Great for decks, pergolas and outdoor furniture. Seal with Messemer’s UV-PLUS to lock in the color otherwise it will weather to a nice silver color and retain that color for many years.
We manufacture and build many outdoor projects with ERC and have tried numerous different sealers. UV-PLUS works best for us.

Nam Ssob
Guest
Nam Ssob

Quick question Gail – is there a specific color of the UV-PLUS specifically for ERC for best color retainment? I’m guessing “natural”, but it appears there are different choices.

Bobby
Guest
Bobby

Can Red Aromatic cedar be used as a butcher block or as a counter top? If so what would you use and how to finish?

Woodrow
Guest
Woodrow

Greg I put cedar t&g flooring in our bathroom about a year ago. But I put it over a plywood sub floor and put polyurethane on top,so far so good. I dont know about the adhesive, you could attach strips to the floor with concrete nails and the attach the cedar to that.

Greg
Guest
Greg

Hi,
I am considering using t&g cedar on a bathroom floor.
Can I attach the cedar flooring to a concrete slab using an adhesive?
If not, why not?
If yes, what adhesive do you recommend?
Should I seal the cedar on one or both sides?
With what product?
The only moisture touching the cedar should be the bottom of the bathers feet when they get out of the tub. If anyone wishes to call me that would be great.

Thanks, Greg

phone 336 212 1673.

Razedbywolvs
Guest
Razedbywolvs

Cedar is not subtable for flooring. It works OK in your closet, but even there it’s still lacks durability. I have never tried installing it over concrete because I liked getting payed and direct glue down to concrete is a grate way to loose money even if you do everything right. I will have to guess what it will do. The changing temperatures of the room will cause the wood to expand and contract to the point were the wood will septate it’s self from the glue. The rest of the questions are starting off so wrong that ill just… Read more »

TED
Guest
TED

CATHERINE DOES TNE CEDAR HACE THE BARH ON IT THERE IS A LOT OF SAND IN THE BARK.

Vytas
Guest
Vytas

Can I use Aromatic Red Cedar in living rooms. Thank You. Vytas

Catherine Futch
Guest
Catherine Futch

I have noticed a significant dulling of my band saw blade when I cut bowl blanks from cedar. I assume this is due to silica build up. What is the best way to minimize dulling of the blade?

Dave Miller
Guest
Dave Miller

It might be a little late for an answer but I’ve read that debarking the trunk with a draw knife is supposed to help.

Kyle Dickson
Guest
Kyle Dickson

In my experience red cedar likes evaporative finishes like shellac or lacquer much more that curative finishes like any sort of oil based product. Linseed oil, polyurethane, spar varnish and such can remain tacky for a long time or adhear poorly due to red cedar’s high resin content. That’s why it has a strong smell. Same goes for “heart pine” as far as finishes, especially if the wood has streaks of “fat lighter” in it. If a wood has a strong “resiny” smell use shellac or lacquer. You can also seal the wood with a dewaxed shellac and then pile… Read more »

Raven Youngblood
Guest
Raven Youngblood

I have never had any issues using a Marine Spar Varnish on any type of Cedar….and I have made hundreds on Hope Chest.

bill
Guest
bill

I made a custom floor in my 49 chevy pickup of 3/8 aromatic cedar t&g and sealed it with linseed oil. The oil picks up dirt and I just finished sanding it back to natural. What can I use to seal this wood? Bill