Getting Cedar or Redcedar from lumber mill

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.
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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.
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Eigenvector wrote:

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.
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dadiOH
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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.

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"Eigenvector" wrote:

You need to verify if this stuff is really western red cedar.
If so, adequate breathing protection, while you work, is a must.
Lew
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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).
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Eigenvector wrote:

"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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