Alaskan Yellow Cedar grows along the Pacific coast of North America from Oregon up into Canada and Alaska. It likes moist climates, and thus it is only found along coastal areas.
Due to the colder temperatures and high rainfall of its local climate, Yellow Cedar grows very slowly with closely packed growth rings and very little distinction between early wood and late wood rings. This makes for a dense, consistent color and a high degree of stability throughout the tree. Moreover, Alaskan Yellow Cedar is highly rot and insect resistant and very hard.
The consistent grain structure means Yellow Cedar works very well either by hand or with machine. The tree is slow growing and very large so it is common to find heavy timbers and long and wide boards.
Alaskan Yellow Cedar is not actually a cedar but is from the Cypress family. Much like Western Red Cedar, Alaskan Yellow Cedar is often associated with Cedars because of its texture and aromatic nature.
Yellow Cedar grows in similar areas as Western Red Cedar, though Western Red is spread over a wider area to include inland areas. Yellow Cedar has some similarities with Western Red, but in every area, Yellow Cedar is superior to Western Red in stability, strength, and weather resistance; these qualities make it a premium option for exterior siding, ceilings, flooring, and trim work.
Traditionally, Yellow Cedar is used in boat building, because of its extreme weather resistance and strength. This strength is counter balanced with a light weight, and because of this, Yellow Cedar is also found in aircraft construction.
Yellow Cedar is a prime pick for saunas and pool house construction, since the wood thrives in wet environments. It is also commonly found in Japanese designs for gardens and architecture; its light weight and high strength allows it to be worked in small and intricate construction like Shoji but also in large garden and outdoor structures like pergolas and gazebos, due to the availability in large timbers.
J. Gibson McIlvain maintains a constant stock of Alaskan Yellow Cedar in common 4/4 and 5/4 sizes, but we can always get special order products in greater thickness and even large timbers, generally within a 2 week window. In most cases, we are asked to mill the Yellow Cedar in paneling, flooring, or siding, and we can match whatever needs your project demands, before we ship it out to the job site.
This continuation of the Wood Species series is written by Shannon Rogers, a/k/a The Renaissance Woodworker and founder of The Hand Tool School. It has been provided courtesy of the J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber Company, where Rogers works as Director of Marketing.
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 1: Properties & Terminology
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 2: Pine
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 3: Oak
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 4: Maple
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 5: Walnut
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 6: Cherry
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 7: Mahogany
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 8: Rosewood
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 9: Ebony
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 10: Teak
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 11: Utile/Sipo
» An Introduction To Wood Species, Part 12: Sapele
» Wood Movement: Why Does Wood Move?
» Controlling Wood Movement: The Drying Process
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