How to choose the best cedar at the BORG

I'm building a sand box in the back yard for my son, and I've decided to go with cedar, as composite stuff is too expensive and I just discovered that my local BORG has 2"x6"x8' cedar (I believe it's western red cedar if that helps) for a not-bad price(~$13 per board). I unfortunately don't have a very good lumber supplier around here (Tallahassee, FL), as the only one I liked went under last year.
So how can I be sure I've picked the best pieces that will be the most rot-resistant? None of the ones I saw were the deep red of the cedar stump I just cleared out of my yard a few weeks ago, but a few of them were so pale that I thought they were pine at first look.
Also, is there anything I can put on the boards in direct contact with the ground to help keep them from rotting away? I'm planning on putting the whole assembly on top of a bed of gravel for drainage, so that may be enough, but any other ideas would be appreciated!
-Nathan
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Make a cover for it. Otherwise it will become the neighborhood cat litter box.
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Yeah, I'm still thinking about what will make the best cover. I'd like to make that out of cedar as well, but I'm worried it'll break when my son climbs up on it and tries to jump around. I'll probably build a light frame out of cedar 2x4s and cover it with T&G planks or something.
But thanks for the reminder! :-)
-Nathan
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Use a couple of plain cheap 2 x 8's. They will outlast your son's interest in having a sandbox to play in.
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How long will they last? He's not quite 2 years old...
Then again, if I do everything else correctly WRT drainage and whatnot, replacing the box wouldn't take any time at all, and I'd still probably be ahead in terms of money spent.
I appreciate all the replies.
-Nathan
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Nathan,

I built a small sandbox area under my daughters swingset when she was younger. I just used standard Doug Fir framing lumber I had laying around. They lasted about seven years, until my daughter lost interest and we dismantled the swingset.
With that said, I also had some wood sides for my utility trailer I used to just set on the ground when I wasn't using them. They only lasted about four years before rotting away.
So, that gives you an idea of the life span you might expect from bare wood. In any case, I'd just use normal framing lumber and rebuild it again later if your son is still interested. If you're concerned about longevity, you could use the "new" pressure treated lumber. It's a lot safer than the old PT lumber, and will last longer than regular framing lumber.
Also, keep in mind you'll want something to cover the sandbox when it's not being used. Otherwise it quickly turns into a cat litter box...
For what it's worth, my daughter lost interest after about a year. It sat unused after that. But boys have a tendency to play in the dirt longer... :)
Have you considered one of the plastic sandboxes that come with covers, or maybe a cheap plastic swimming pool? Inexpensive, no rotting, safe to use, quick to setup, and easy to remove when the interest is gone.
Anthony
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Outlast? Most people never grow out of the interest to play in the sand, they grow out of the sandbox. After all, why are beaches so popular? Finally, there's enough sand to build that sand fort!
Ok, maybe "most people" should be "most people with engineering interests...
Puckdropper
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1. Build everything that will not be seen out of green wood not cedar.
2. Build everything that will be seen out of cedar.
3. Make sure the cover has a slight crown to it so the water will run off instead of laying on it.
4. Use a base of concrete blocks so the wood will not be in touch with the ground and skirt the blocks so they will not be seen.
5. End coat all your green cuts so they will not wick water.
6. Finish all 8 sides of the cedar boards with whatever finish you desire before you lay them to minimize rot.
BTB it is very hard to find cedar heartwood and if you do it is very expensive. This is why you see mainly sap wood which is very pale in comparison.
P D Q

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Look for the darkest colored wood you can find with the closest annular rings. Cedar comes in almost white sapwood to brown heartwood. The closest annular rings, look at the end grain, the better the wood as it will be old growth and also will be heavier than light wood with wide spaced rings, if comparing dry wood. Avoid any loose or bulging knots, and check for "pre-rotted" areas on the wood. Of course, avoid warps, twists, bows, splits and pieces trying out for airplane propellers.

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wrote:

Nathan:
You might want to reconsider using the composite. Trex in 2x6 can be had for about $2.25 per lineal foot, or $18.00 per 8 foot stick.
I have several concerns with the cedar. Cedar is very splintery and is a pretty serious allergen. The sapwood is also not particularly rot resistant and it is most likely the sapwood that you are being quoted on.
I don't know how many sticks you need for your box but the extra 5 dollars a board may well be worth the money.
Regards,
Tom
Thos.J.Watson - Cabinetmaker tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet www.home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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