Aromatic cedar for closet lining

A discussion of drying and machining, aromatic red cedar for closet lining. Includes ideas on marketing the finished product. March 4, 2000

We have aromatic red cedar and need to know what size closet lining companies generally cut their boards? Also, the Hardwood Review does not have prices for the cedar. Any ideas on the current selling price for green?

The price will depend on width, length, and location. Where are you?

Appalachian region is our location. Logs have not been sawn yet. Any suggestions on width and length?

Most walk-in closets are just short of 8 feet tall, so 8-foot lengths are best. Will you tongue and groove the boards? Many people expect this. If so, then 6" nominal before T&G-ing is common.

They also expect it dried to 7 to 8% moisture content, but if you dry it at over 80 degrees F, then the smelly oils will evaporate -- and that might not be a good idea!

By the way, how knotty is the log? Large knots are not desired, but little pin knots are probably O.K. However, if you have a nearly clear log, you will get more money if you sell it for veneer, in many cases.
Gene Wengert, forum moderator

I don't know what the buyers in your area expect but nothing described was like the cedar that I just bought at a major home center. I didn't measure it, but the boards were about 4 inches by 1/4 or 3/8, with T&G on all 4 edges. And knots, there were plenty of them.

It might be worthwhile to visit your local "big box" home center and check out a package. This will tell you the supplier. I also guarantee that the wood that you see in the window of the package will be real pretty, but wait until you open a package.

We usually wait until we get an order before sawing. We find that there are so many different preferences on width and thickness that it is impossible to keep a big inventory.

We do saw three-sided cants for later resawing, and allow them to air dry. We also found that many customers want the bandsawn look, rather than smooth planing. Some like lots of knots (character) others do not like much sapwood. We price according to the demands of each customer.

Figure your log costs, your sawing and handling costs, storage costs, waste loss, planing etc. add on the profit you wish to make and then your customers will let you know if you are high or low. Remember, being lowest-priced is not the best sales tool.

Cedar shrinks very little from air dry (12 percent So. Indiana) to eight percent so only small gaps will appear. Painting the background black will give the appearance of tongue-and-grooved. Since cedar is brittle, it warps very, very little and does not need a tongue to hold it flat against the wall. I asked a former employee of a large company which makes most of the cedar paneling why they tongue and groove 1/4" paneling and he said the only reason he knew was that it is what they have always done, since the start of the company.