Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani)
Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani)

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Common Name(s): Cedar of Lebanon

Scientific Name: Cedrus libani

Distribution: Mountainous areas of the Mediterranean region

Tree Size: 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall, 5-7 ft (1.5-2.1 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 32 lbs/ft3 (520 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .41, .52

Janka Hardness: 820 lbf (3,670 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 11,890 lbf/in2 (82.0 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,465,000 lbf/in2 (10.10 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 6,090 lbf/in2 (42.0 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.1%, Tangential: 6.0%, Volumetric: 10.4%, T/R Ratio: 1.5

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a cream to light reddish brown color. Narrow sapwood is a pale yellowish white.

Grain/Texture: Grain is generally straight, though knots or bark inclusions may cause grain irregularities. Medium to coarse texture with a moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Resin canals absent (though sometimes present due to injury); earlywood to latewood transition gradual, color contrast high; tracheid diameter small.

Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable, and generally resistant to insect attack.

Workability: Easy to work with hand and machine tools, though knots and bark inclusions can cause difficulties in machining. Turns, glues, and finishes well.

Odor: Has a long-lasting, sweet scent that’s sometimes used in making perfume.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Cedar of Lebanon has been reported to cause skin and respiratory irritation, as well as runny nose and asthma-like symptoms. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Not commonly seen for sale, Cedar of Lebanon is generally only available in smaller blocks and turning blanks, and occasionally as veneer. Prices are moderate for an imported lumber.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable primarily due to a total area of occupancy of less than 770 square miles (2,000 square kilometers), and a severely fragmented population.

Common Uses: Veneer, cabinetry, building construction, and turned objects.

Comments: The country of Lebanon prominently features the tree on its national flag, and the species is named for the once-extensive forest that grew across Mount Lebanon.

Used by ancient civilizations for millennia, it’s also referenced in the Bible as the source of timber for Solomon’s temple.

Related Species:

None available.

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the wood sample and turned photo of this wood species.

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani)
Cedar of Lebanon (sanded)
Cedar-of Lebanon (sealed)
Cedar-of Lebanon (sealed)
Cedar of Lebanon (endgrain)
Cedar of Lebanon (endgrain)
Cedar of Lebanon (endgrain 10x)
Cedar of Lebanon (endgrain 10x)
Cedar of Lebanon (turned)
Cedar of Lebanon (turned)
 
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Bob

Workability. Working nice, clean, straight grained timber (quite difficult to find) with really sharp hand tools is a pure delight. I would do it all day just for the smell! But beware that, with a very high oil content, it often does not take glue well. Clean surfaces with a solvent first and abrade with sandpaper for reliable results. Cedar of Lebanon is fairly readily available here (Southern UK) because a lot of it was planted for ornamental purposes in the last century, and it is not too expensive. I have bought two whole logs from a local sawmill, and… Read more »

Mi?elis Reynolds

Does anyone know a reliable source to import it from? I don’t need a lot just need some for some knife scales.

Mario Cargol

I’ve done sof kayaks and some kayak pieces with this wood. I’ve worked with the three authentic cedar species: cedrus libani, Cedrus atlantica/atlantica glauca and Cedrus deodara. I’ve found the cedrus libani to be more lighter,(420-470kg/m3), aromatic and beautiful (light orange wood), the cedrus deodara and atlantica have almost same colour, the cedrus atlantica glauca has generally a much whiter wood as are their leaves do. If you work with the pieces near the branches you can find very rare and amazing colours like the phosforus yellow. The most similar wood i’ve been working with is abies alba (spanish spruce?)… Read more »

Gerald Utaker

Mario, where do you purchase your cedar of lebanon from, or what places should I be watching for it to pop up (mills, websites, etc)? I am building a new house and needed to import some. Thanks and I really appreciate your insight in your comments!

Mario Cargol

I buy it in a sawmill from girona (spain) wich works principally making house beams. it’s name is “fustes oliveras”. it’s full of massive raw logs about 90-50cmx7-10m They usually sell it with douglas fir and i think it’s at the same price, the logs are not mixed with doug fir. I can’t tell you the price exactly but if i’m not wrong it’s about 600€/cubic meter the round logs without bark. they are almost never clean of knots but for making beams and structures is really ok ;) you’ll love the aroma. For me there’s no other better smelling… Read more »

Murat

North,

Here in Turkey, it is called Toros Sediri and we have the largest cedar of Lebanon population in the world.

But despite that, I have some doubts about it’s use in boat building. Because I have never seen anyone using it. Just stories of Ancient Egypt! For Turkish boat builders the best local wood is sweet chestnut.

Mario Cargol

It’s so nice to work with it in boatbuilding but commomly expensive. The one i can get is lighter than it is said here. My pieces where between 420 to 470kg/m3

North

Hi, does anyone know of any modern usage of Lebanon Cedar in boat building? Are significant quanties/qualities/sizes available (and ethical) locally in the Mediterranean?

Mario Cargol

I do

Gordon Bruce

This timber is highly aromatic!! A very strong odour has meant this timber has a history of being used in drawers, wardrobes etc to deter insects such as moths. I find it a very pleasant fresh, sharp spicy smell – (sounds like a whisky tasting note now!!).