Yellow Cedar Characteristics

Not a true Cedar, Yellow Cedar grows mainly on the northern Pacific coast of North America. Here is some info about its useful properties. April 2, 2013

Question
Does anyone have experience using Canadian yellow cedar for windows?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor M:
Speaking as a Canadian, we generally see either western red or eastern white. Yellow cedar sounds like it might be eastern white. Is it kiln dried? Generally, western red is a premium product; very stable and weather-resistant. Eastern white is a poorer grade, less weather-resistant and less stable. I would not use eastern white for windows.



From the original questioner:
We are supplying millwork for a very large residence in Texas. The owner, a Canadian, suggested this material. We have used Honduras mahogany for many years, but that supply is getting questionable - higher prices for lower quality. Accoya seems to be the most promising new material for exterior millwork. The western cedar you mentioned is very interesting.


From contributor P:
I can vouch for yellow cedar being a delight to work with. Itís smooth, stable, and easy cutting. It planes and shapes beautifully. I have never personally built windows with it but I have also read that it's very well suited for that.


From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Yellow cedar is not a true cedar, it is also often confusingly called "Nootka Cedar", "Yellow Cedar", "Alaska Cedar", and "Alaska Yellow Cedar". It has a slightly unpleasant odor when first sawn, but this odor is faint in dry wood. It works well with tools and machines, glues well, and has very good natural decay resistance. It can be rather expensive. It is a perfect substitute for western red cedar (except for color). The tree is rather unusual in that often at age 75 years or so, it dies and then stays upright for decades as it does not decay. Harvesting seems to encourage new trees to grow.


From the original questioner:
I have used accoya for two jobs, shutters and garage doors, and liked it pretty well. I really don't know much about it other than what is advertised. It machines easily and holds paint well. It was specified by an architect. I paid close to $5 per board foot so it is expensive.


From contributor L:
I use Alaskan yellow cedar all the time. It cuts and planes as smooth as glass. It is also very stable and durable.


From contributor S:
Yellow cedar gets my vote also. I have used it for exterior railings, and was amazed at how well it worked. We did interior railings in a commercial bar 27 years ago, and it still looks like the day we installed it. I quit working with it only because I became allergic to cedar.


From contributor G:
When finished with an oil finish yellow cedar will appear gold in color. I have built a complete deck from clear yellow cedar, used it for floor trim, window liners, stair railings, and a coffin.


From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Regarding hardness, here are some numbers:

West red cedar 350
Atl. White cedar 350
East white pine 380
Sugar pine 380
No. white cedar 320
Balsam fir 380
Redwood 420
Cypress 510
Sitka spruce 510
West. hemlock 540
Red pine 560
Alaska yellow cedar 580
Loblolly pine 690
Doug fir coastal 710
Red oak 1290