This versatile tree, once called giant arborvitae, the “tree of life,” was exactly that to the coastal tribes many years ago. It provided them with long, tough strands of bark that they wove into baskets, braided for rope, and cast as fishing lines. For travel, they made 50′-long canoes of hollowed logs.
Medium- to coarse-grained, western red cedar completely lacks pitch or resin. The small amount of sapwood you’ll find is almost pure white. The heartwood varies from a dark, reddish brown to a pale yellow. With age, the color dulls to a silver-gray.
Work this wood with both hand and power tools. Use caution, though, when planing or sanding so you won’t catch and tear the grain. While western red cedar does not hold nails well, it glues easily.
For exterior use, western red cedar takes and holds paint and stain with persistence. Inside, finish it with lacquer, varnish, or clear wax.
Western Red cedar great for outdoor use. Western red cedar uses include siding, decking, trim, fascia, outdoor structures, paneling, soffits, and more…for example, Shingles, exterior siding and lumber, boatbuilding, boxes, crates, and musical instruments.