I noticed that when I was last in the lumber yard they were offering Cedar.
So I'm thinking, is that Cedar, or Western Redcedar? Then I also started
wondering if there was any functional difference between the two. I
understand that Cedar is type of tree, and Western Redcedar isn't even a
cedar, but a cyprus. But all that aside, both are aromatic and it is my
understanding that both can accomplish the same goal (moth prevention and
rot resistance). So I'm wondering, is it cedar, or Thuja plicata (redcedar)
or does it even matter? I've always assumed it was Redcedar, that's the
stuff that grows all over where I live.
Eastern redcedar and western redcedar have considerable differences,
but do share the aromatic feature. Almost certainly, what you saw in
the lumberyard was the western version, but the eastern redcedar is
also of the cypress family. I've got one of the largest in the county
standing in my back yard, where it attracts cedar wax wings my wife
loves to watch feeding on the berries come spring. Eastern redcedar
has been cut over badly, is a very slow growing tree, thus is seldom
available in commercial sizes. Too, around here and throughout much of
the area, it is a weed tree, taking root quickly in pastures where it
is bush-hogged out ASAP. Thus, you're unlikely to find any sizeable
pieces, and what you do find is going to be knotty as all get out. For
structural uses, go with western redcedar which comes from a much
larger, fastergrowing tree. For lining chests and boxes and making
small boxes, either one is great.
You want eastern red cedar - Juniperus virginiana - for moths. Western red
cedar's forte is weather/rot resistance, no idea how eastern red cedar is in
that department but it shouldn'r matter if you are looking for the aromatic
quality. Also, Cyprus is a country, cypress is a tree.
Better not tell that to the Greeks (or the Turks)! But based on yours and
the other two answers (which I appreciate) it sounds like there is some
confusion here. The logs at the yard were marked simply 'Cedar', so based
on the color it would appear they were Western Redcedar, not eastern
redcedar or true cedar. That's fine, I'm okay with using western redcedar
for the project. It just seemed to me like an area that a lot of people
buying lumber don't realize might make a difference.
As one who has managed to develop COPD, I can tell you that adequate
breathing protection is a frigging MUST even if you're using pine or
oak or maple. It may be marginally moreimportant with some woods, but
it is important all the time. Good dust collection. A good mask. Then,
when you get to my age, good lungs (assuming you're not as stupid as I
was while smoking heavily for 35 years, too---been off the butts for
about 20 years, and wish I'd never started).
"Cedar" can be just about anything. If you're looking for the
moth-repelling stuff it's generally called "aromatic red cedar" and
has a distinctive appearance with dark, reddish heartwood and light
sapwood and a distinct aroma. In a "big box" store it may be sold in
bundles as "closet lining". While white cedar is decay resistant I've
never seen a claim of moth repellancy for it.
The only way someone here can tell you which is in stock in the yard
in question is if you tell us the name and location of the yard and
someone just by chance happens to be familiar with their stock.
Your best bet is to call the yard and ask what species their cedar is.
If that fails, and if you can't tell whether it's what you want by
looking at it, then you need to get Hoadley's wood identification book
and a microscope and go to work.
Incidentally, "Western Redcedar" is an arborvitae, "Eastern White
Cedar" is a cypress, "Eastern Red Cedar" is a juniper, and "Spanish
Cedar" is related to mahogany. The true cedars are native to the Old
World and are seldom seen in the US.
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