Western Red Cedar gotchas?


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I'm about to start my first guild build with Cremona's Farmhouse Dining Table. I was originally going to do this in cherry, but my wife apparently doesn't like the look of aged cherry.  :blink:

While watching the Spag's refinishing video of his outdoor rustic table, my wife commented on how much she liked the look of that table. It was made of Western Red Cedar. How easy of a wood is this to work with? I have a local supplier that can give me rough sawn true 4 x 8's at $11.31/ln ft. They told me it was air dried. I live in Florida, but this will be an indoor dining table. I imagine the wood will be quite wet at that 16/4 thickness air dried? I would resaw most these in half so I have 4x4's for the legs and trestles, and 3 boards would be resawn vertically into 2 x 8's for the tabletop and breadboards.  Final dimensions would be 3.5" x 3.5", and 1 5/8" x 6"

Should I have concerns? They were telling me that this wood was very stable. Anything else I should know or be aware of?



 

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It smells great when it being milled. Very pretty too, but oh so soft. The pergola & railing on my deck is WR & the last hails storm left it covered in divots. At that point I decided to quite staining it every couple of years & just let it go gray. It's actually getting to look really good now.

I'd never use it for a table though. Any finish will just get ruined & the unfinished gray surface makes a terrible table top.

There's a golf course club house that we worked on that had the entry & canopy framed with clear WR cedar timbers that were massive. The owner told me that they were $14 per inch! Beautiful.

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Personally I think 90% of WRC i see is grade A garbage and overpriced.  It has a reputation as good outdoor wood, but my experience is the opposite.  Most of it is sappy, knotty crap and rots within a few seasons.  If you can get all clear or CVG material it will be awesome, but the box store stuff are the logs that should have been mulched.  

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If I were you I'd look at southern yellow pine.  It is harder, your wife will think it looks similar, and it is native to the south east so will be cheaper.  

16/4 stock air dried in florida will be sopping wet inside, most likely. 

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That's what I fear.... sopping wet. She liked the look of white oak, but expressed she would probably want it stained, which is not what I really want to get into.

Someone mentioned some Superior/Clean alder to me. 

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Also I don't think alder is great for outdoor use. Not rot resistant. If she just wants the pinterest rustic look you might check eastern red cedar...probably cheaper than western, very rot resistant and plenty ugly to satisfy the look she wants.

 

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Hickory/Pecan has a very "rustic" look to it as well, but it is hard as nails. It grows in the South/South-East, so the price should be right too?

Pretty much the polar opposite of workability though. I will let others chime in on their woes using it, because it has established a reputation of being a bear to work with. But it is hard, should be cheap and is rustic - just a fleeting thought.

http://www.wood-database.com/western-red-cedar/

http://www.wood-database.com/pecan/

http://www.wood-database.com/pignut-hickory/

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I appreciate the suggestion.  I wasn't focusing on the work-ability aspect actually. This will be my first big project working with solid wood, so I really have no idea how much of a bear working with it would be.
 

I have a grizzly G0771,  I think it can handle most I throw at it. Plus I have access to a local Maker Space that has all the extra tools I need, like the jointer, planer, bandsaw, and a large SawStop  if my ts proves too weak.

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I'm making the same table, for outdoor use (on a covered deck.)  I'm using Western Red Cedar because I'm in the West, and don't have access to all the great woods you guys have in the East. 

I would not pay extra (which your price quote suggests) to ship our stuff out to the East.

Just saying.

[Edit:  I do understand and subscribe to highlander's view; if my wife asks for WRC, that's what she gets.]

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I like WRC  but finding good clear stuff is kinda hard and expensive.More pricy then Vertical grain fir.

I would even think of making a table out of WRC for indoors it just seems wrong.And the rustic stuff with knots can be loose so you might have to deal with that or have lots of holes.

Good luck 

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Thanks for all the great feedback everyone. She is starting to listen to reason and I'm pretty sure we've taken WRC off the table, no pun intended. I'm still trying to push cherry as I can get it for $4.65bf (before shipping) from Bell Forest. That's a heck of a lot cheaper than I can get for that locally. I haven't found a local source for hickory/pecan yet, but I'll keep looking. I'm at about 260bf of 8/4 at 8" width to get this done. If I can keep the cost at or below $4.50bf, I should be good.

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That's what I fear.... sopping wet. She liked the look of white oak, but expressed she would probably want it stained, which is not what I really want to get into.

Someone mentioned some Superior/Clean alder to me. 

 

You might see what she thinks of the color of white oak after it has aged a bit. It darkens up a few shades.

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1 hour ago, rkrueger said:

 I'm at about 260bf of 8/4

Whoa.  Are you sure you're calculating your board foot needs accurately?  That is a TON of material.  We're talking a thousand pounds of meat.  A Roubo bench requires about half that much, and that's a lot of material.  Unless you're building something that's intended for the dining room at Chateau de Chambord, I'm having trouble envisioning how you'll need that much stock.  You might wanna double check your numbers.

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It's a beefy farmhouse style table. Tell me if I'm wrong here :

It's an 8' x 3' dining table,  plus 1 matching bench at 67" x 15".   The top is 1 5/8" thick milled down from 8/4,   and all the leg and trestle assembly is 3 1/2" thick milled from 16/4.

I can put my calculations here if you think that's still way off.

 

FHT-2.jpg

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