Cedar wood - unfortunately no cedar

Unfortunately, what the name suggests is not entirely true: The cedar or red cedar wood is not cedar, but the wood of the so-called giant tree of life, also called thuja. What other qualities Red Cedar brings you can be found in this post.

Technical values

Reading Descriptionvalue
density330 - 460 kg / cm³
Compressive strength29 - 35 N / mm²
flexural strength48 - 55 N / mm²

Other names

The Giant Tree of Life is a cypress species that is also known under the name of Red Cedar or Western Red Cedar. In general, trees are called "Thuja", but in our latitudes they do not grow as trees, but only as shrubs.

Other names for the Tree of Life wood are:

  • Giant Cedar
  • Pacific Red Cedar
  • Shinglewood



The Red Cedar wood is missing resin channels, but you can see a lot of fine annual rings (if the wood is older). Otherwise, the structure is not very conspicuous and very uniform.


The heartwood has a slightly reddish-brown tone, the latewood is clearly recognizable as a spadder. The sapwood is very bright, almost white.


Red Cedar can be worked well and very clean, remarkable are also the large knotless lengths of the wood (up to 25 meters).

Shrinkage and drying

Red Cedar shrinks only slightly, even the drying is not a problem, but must always be pre-dried naturally before the technical drying.


Red Cedar is well weatherproof and also resistant to fungal and insect infestation. It is classified in resistance class 2, which is slightly worse than robinia wood.


The main use is as medium hard construction wood. Also, windows and doors can be made of Western Red Cedar, occasionally also for veneers and special pieces in the musical instrument industry. An outdoor use is possible.


Red Cedar originates mainly from North America, where it is widespread and serves as important timber. It is only recently that the cultivation and propagation of wood in southern Germany has begun, but the German stocks in the trade are still very low.


Red cedar is occasionally sold as fresh wood (undried) and is then slightly cheaper. Depending on the quality of the wood, the prices can range between 800 EUR per m³ and 2,000 EUR per m³. Often a distinction is made between No. 2 and No. 4, which has an impact on the price - usually No. 2 is the more expensive option.

Here you will find an overview of the most important types of wood worldwide.

Tips & Tricks

When buying wood, always pay attention to the exact type of wood: Spanish cedar wood, for example, is a completely different type of wood with completely different characteristics, since it comes from a completely different tree species.

Video Board: Cedar Bowl with surprise at the end - Woodturning #6