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How well do you know Cedar?

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  • How well do you know Cedar?

    Hey Gang,

    I have a thing for Cedar Chest. I have one that is about 80 years old & one store bought about 50 years old. The 80 year old one was one that my Grandfather (which died before my birth) made. He cut the tree, cut it into planks, planed it & the other things that are necessary & built a Cedar Chest. Several years ago, my Grandmother mentioned than it was out in the 'car shed' unassembled. For a birthday present, my Mother had my step-father re-assemble it and gave it to me. (enough with the family history) However, I did find out that my Grandfather had made a chain & a ball in a cage, but they can't be found.

    A couple of questions:

    1: How is Cedar to carve with? especially In-the-round
    2: Why is the piece my Grandfather made not have the same finish as the store bought one? It does not have the different color variations. It all appears to have the dull part of the Cedar & not the white part. I know this may be a loaded question, in that he may have stained it. But your thoughts.
    3: I have a hankering to cut down a Cedar tree on my land & try drying(curing) it. What would the steps be & what would the length of time be?
    4: Is Cedar better for Relief carving, Chip carving or In-the-Round? I'm sure the answers will be varing based on your experience. None-the-less, please give me your thoughts.

    I realize this is a long message with a lot of questions. However, it has been on my mind for about a month now & I wanted your thoughts.

    I probably should just go purchase an already prepared piece of Cedar & see for myself. But this is quicker! You know an expert opinion!!! : ???

    Thanks for your comments!
    Jim
    Jim - The Doing is as much fun as the Viewing!
    Jackson, MS

  • #2
    Re: How well do you know Cedar?

    Hi, I'll try to answer your questions , as much as my experience will let me. Cedar is very prone to cracking. dry it and dry it well. After it is sawn into planks or boards, either stick it properly and put it overhead in a building, 1 yr to the inch for air drying or Standing it up in the workshop is another way. moving it end for end once inawhile. It dries straight that way, and isn't so prone to cracks. There are several types of cedar, red, white, aromatic ?, yellow. Different cedars, different colour wood. Also the heart wood and sap wood can be a different colour. Its nice to carve with power tools, and it finishes nice. I have some sawn out when I have the opportunity, and love it to work with. Its worth the waith to have it sawn and to dry it. Oh yes, I try to find large logs, and just save the boards that are cut from the sap wood . Hope this helps. Hugh :

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    • #3
      hi Re: How well do you know Cedar?

      hi cut-fingers
      first off several of my whales and stylized carving are made with cedar salvage from old cedar rail fences it carves very well with power tools but i have found it does not take detail well and yuo have to be very careful when going cross grain
      as for the diff.in color different tree or part thereoff,dried or stored in a differrent fashion so the patina on the wood was aquired differently.
      have not dried any wood so can't offer any suggestions,but others may have some insight

      Frank

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      • #4
        Re: How well do you know Cedar?

        As the others stated nice for power tools, but quite hard for hand tools. I played around awhile back and carved a full sized closed fist from a piece of cedar pole with hand tools. It wasn't easy, but can be done.

        The best way I have found to dry green lumber is to wax the ends, lay the boards in the rafters of your garage and then use 1/2 inch plywood strips an inch or so wide and lay these on the board over each rafter. Then on either side of each board, run a 3 1/2 inch deck screw through the plywood strip into the rafter. Leave them up there at least a year, longer is better. By 'clamping' the boards down, it helps to keep them straight while drying, the wax helps keep them from splitting.

        Down here in Missouri, I can pick up oak and black walnut at the local saw mills for about a buck a foot - green. At the Amish mills it's even cheaper!

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        • #5
          Re: How well do you know Cedar?

          Jim,
          Most of my carvings are carved out of cedar. On the whole I use Eastern White Cedar but have also carved yellow, red and aromatic. All of it has a thick layer of sap wood that is very light in color, in fact the white cedar is just that very white. But the heart wood is a beautiful dark amber color. I love to carve cedar but as Hugh says it does crack. Mind you if you are carving a log it will all crack no matter what the wood is. I find that usually one or two years air drying and most of the moisture will be out of the wood. The only other problem is although it will have cracked already when you start to remove wood it will crack even more, and almost right away. I usually wet down my carvings when I am finished for the day and put a garbage bag over them to stop them from drying out. As for the different color could be a lot of different things. Untreated all wood will fade somewhat over the years or it could be that he used different cedar. Also cedar back a few years because of weather changes would render it a different color. As for carving it I like it but others may not agee with me. Just when you figure you have the grain figured out it changes and twists can be a real challenge at time. Also it tends to splinter if it is too dry, but I never get tired of carving it I just love the smell. Kiln drying will help a lot and eliminate a lot of the checking but kiln dried cedar is a little pricey. Hope that this has answered some of your questions feel free to email me if you have any more.
          Colin

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          • #6
            Re: How well do you know Cedar?

            Thanks for all of your replys!

            Another question - What affect can be caused by drying wood in the attic? (not just cedar, but all types) It gets very hot up there during the summer, in Mississippi. Would the extreme heat over a long period of time have an adverse of positive affect?
            Jim - The Doing is as much fun as the Viewing!
            Jackson, MS

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            • #7
              Re: How well do you know Cedar?

              The heat is good, but you need air circulation as well. It was mentioned earlier, about waxing the end of the wood. Also stick it properly, and turn it once in awhile. I dried some in an attic a few years back. Left it there for a couple of years, and it was excellent.
              Sticking the lumber properly is an important part of the process for air drying.

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              • #8
                Re: How well do you know Cedar?

                I have one that was painted over with a lime green. I twas my GGGreat grandfathers who came from Summerset PA . It has dove tail joints in the corners. Kind of afraid of trying to restore it! I also have a steamer trunk that was his when he came from Austria. Oh yes some quaker blood in me and scot/irish from PA. Actually I think they were what was called Dunkers..like the Amish .
                bás roimhe easonóir

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                • #9
                  Re: How well do you know Cedar?

                  I'm just a little North of you and dry my own in the attic of my garage as stated above. We get temperatures in the Summer anywhere from 95-115, the garage attic must get close to 150, it's hot enough you cannot breath! I've got eve vents on the two ends (East and West), and in the Summer also have two wondows open (North and East). I've dried alot of 1x oak and black walnut with not problems. But you do have to clamp it down to keep it from twisting, warping, and bowing!

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                  • #10
                    Re: How well do you know Cedar?

                    Randy, here is the URL to a site that tells about drying and stacking lumber. http://ohioline.osu.edu/for-fact/0008.html hope this helps.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: How well do you know Cedar?

                      How well do I know cedar? Alas, poor cedar, I knew him well!! or was that yorick, I always get those two mixed up!! 8)

                      Comment

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