Are you wondering whether red cedar is a hard or soft wood? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. Cedar is a type of softwood, but it is known for its durability and strength. In fact, some species of cedar are even harder than certain types of hardwoods.
When it comes to determining the hardness of wood, the Janka scale is often used. This scale measures the force required to embed a steel ball into the wood, and the higher the rating, the harder the wood. While Western red cedar has a Janka rating of only 320, it is still a strong and durable wood. Other species of cedar, such as Alaskan yellow cedar and Eastern red cedar, have higher Janka ratings and are even stronger.
So, while cedar is technically a softwood, it should not be underestimated in terms of its strength and durability. In this article, we will explore the properties of cedar and the factors that determine its hardness. Whether you are a woodworker or simply curious about the different types of wood, this article will provide you with valuable information about red cedar and its characteristics.
Understanding Wood Types
When it comes to woodworking, understanding the characteristics of different types of wood is essential. One of the most fundamental distinctions is between hardwood and softwood.
Hardwood comes from deciduous trees, which are trees that lose their leaves in the fall. These trees tend to be slower-growing and have a more complex structure than softwoods. As a result, hardwoods are generally denser and stronger than softwoods. They also tend to have a more attractive grain pattern, making them popular for use in furniture and decorative woodworking.
Some common examples of hardwoods include oak, maple, cherry, and walnut. These woods are prized for their durability, strength, and beauty. However, they can also be more difficult to work with than softwoods, as they are denser and may require more effort to cut and shape.
Softwood comes from evergreen trees, which are trees that keep their leaves year-round. These trees tend to be faster-growing and have a simpler structure than hardwoods. As a result, softwoods are generally less dense and less strong than hardwoods. However, they are also more lightweight and easier to work with.
Some common examples of softwoods include pine, cedar, and spruce. These woods are often used in construction and outdoor woodworking because of their affordability and ease of use. However, they may not be as durable or attractive as hardwoods.
It’s important to note that the terms “hardwood” and “softwood” can be somewhat misleading. For example, some softwoods like yew and Douglas fir are actually harder than some hardwoods like American cherry. Additionally, some woods like cedar can be both soft and hard depending on the species.
In conclusion, understanding the differences between hardwood and softwood is crucial for any woodworker. By choosing the right type of wood for your project, you can ensure that your finished product is both beautiful and functional.
Properties of Red Cedar
Red Cedar is a softwood that is obtained from gymnosperm trees which are conifers. The common term for gymnosperms is softwoods. Other popular softwoods are pine and fir trees. Below are some of the properties of Red Cedar:
Red Cedar has excellent resistance to decay and insect attacks, making it a popular choice for outdoor applications like fence posts. It is also rated as durable to very durable in regard to decay resistance, though it has a mixed resistance to insect attack.
Red Cedar is easy to work with, and it is a popular choice among woodworkers. It has a straight grain and a uniform texture, which makes it easy to carve and turn. However, it can have knots and irregularities that can make it difficult to work with.
Red Cedar has a reddish-brown color that can vary from light to dark. It has a distinct and pleasant aroma that is often used in closet linings and furniture. The wood has a straight grain and a uniform texture, which gives it a smooth and consistent finish.
Red Cedar is a strong wood, but it is not as strong as hardwoods like oak or maple. It has a bending strength of 8,800 lbf per square inch (60.7 MPa), which is lower than some other softwoods like Alaskan yellow cedar. However, it is still strong enough for most applications.
Red Cedar is a versatile wood that is used in a variety of applications. It is commonly used for outdoor applications like fence posts, decking, and siding. It is also used for indoor applications like closet linings, furniture, and carvings. Red Cedar is a popular choice among woodworkers because of its easy workability and pleasant aroma.
Red Cedar as Hardwood or Softwood
If you are wondering whether red cedar is a hardwood or a softwood, the answer is simple: red cedar is a softwood. While hardwoods come from trees that produce seeds encased in a fruit or nut, softwoods come from trees that produce seeds in cones. Cedar trees belong to the latter category, which means that red cedar is a softwood.
However, just because red cedar is a softwood does not mean that it is not strong. In fact, red cedar is known for its strength and durability, which makes it a popular choice for outdoor furniture, decks, and siding. Red cedar is also resistant to rot and decay, making it an excellent choice for outdoor applications.
When it comes to compressive strength, red cedar is not as strong as some other woods, but it is still quite strong for a softwood. According to the North American Wood Products Association, the average compressive strength of red cedar is around 6,020 lbf per square inch (41.5 MPa).
In addition to its strength and durability, red cedar is also known for its pleasant aroma and beautiful color. The wood has a reddish-brown hue that can vary in intensity depending on the age and location of the tree. The wood also has a straight grain and a fine texture, which makes it easy to work with using both hand and power tools.
Overall, while red cedar may be a softwood, it is still a strong and durable choice for a variety of outdoor applications. Its natural resistance to rot and decay, pleasant aroma, and beautiful color make it a popular choice among homeowners and builders alike.
Applications of Red Cedar
Red cedar is a versatile wood that can be used for various applications. Its unique properties make it an excellent choice for both indoor and outdoor use. Here are some common applications of red cedar:
Red cedar is a popular choice for outdoor applications due to its natural resistance to decay and insects. It is commonly used for:
- Siding: Red cedar is a popular choice for siding as it is durable and has a natural resistance to rot and decay.
- Decking: Red cedar decking is a popular choice due to its natural beauty and durability.
- Fencing: Red cedar is an excellent choice for fencing as it is strong and has a natural resistance to rot and insects.
- Shingles: Red cedar shingles are a popular choice for roofing as they are durable and have a natural resistance to decay.
Red cedar is also a popular choice for indoor applications. Its unique properties make it an excellent choice for:
- Closets and chests: Red cedar has a distinct and tell-tale scent that repels moths and other insects, making it an excellent choice for closets and chests.
- Furniture: Red cedar furniture is durable and has a unique aesthetic that can add character to any room.
- Venetian blinds: Red cedar is a popular choice for Venetian blinds due to its natural resistance to decay and insects.
Red cedar can also be used for a variety of other applications, such as:
- Pencils: Red cedar is a popular choice for making pencils due to its straight grain and durability.
- Carvings: Red cedar is a popular choice for carvings as it is easy to work with and has a unique aesthetic.
- Musical instruments: Red cedar is a popular choice for making musical instruments such as guitars and violins due to its unique tonal qualities.
Overall, red cedar is a versatile wood that can be used for a variety of applications. Its unique properties make it an excellent choice for both indoor and outdoor use.
Comparing Red Cedar to Other Woods
When it comes to determining whether red cedar is a hardwood or a softwood, the answer is clear – it is a softwood. But how does it compare to other woods in terms of hardness and durability? Let’s take a look.
Hardwood vs. Softwood
First, it’s important to understand the difference between hardwood and softwood. Hardwood comes from deciduous trees, which are trees that lose their leaves annually, while softwood comes from coniferous trees, which are evergreen trees that typically have needles or scale-like leaves. Hardwood tends to be denser and harder than softwood, but this isn’t always the case.
Red Cedar vs. Douglas Fir
Douglas fir is a softwood that is often used in construction for its strength and durability. However, when it comes to hardness, red cedar is actually slightly harder than Douglas fir. Red cedar has a Janka hardness rating of 900 lbf (pounds-force) while Douglas fir has a rating of 660 lbf. This means that red cedar is slightly more resistant to wear and tear than Douglas fir.
Red Cedar vs. Redwood
Redwood is another softwood that is often used in construction for its durability and resistance to decay. When it comes to hardness, redwood is actually harder than red cedar. Redwood has a Janka hardness rating of 450 lbf, making it about half as hard as red cedar. This means that red cedar is more resistant to wear and tear than redwood.
Red Cedar vs. Cherry Wood
Cherry wood is a hardwood that is often used in furniture making for its beauty and durability. In terms of hardness, cherry wood is slightly harder than red cedar. Cherry wood has a Janka hardness rating of 950 lbf, making it about 50% harder than red cedar. However, cherry wood is still not as resistant to wear and tear as red cedar.
While red cedar is technically a softwood, it is still relatively hard compared to other softwoods like Douglas fir and redwood. When compared to hardwoods like cherry wood, red cedar is not as hard, but it still offers a good balance of durability and workability. If you’re looking for a wood that is resistant to wear and tear and easy to work with, red cedar is a great choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the properties of red cedar wood?
Red cedar wood is known for its distinctive aroma and beautiful reddish-brown color. It has a straight grain and a fine, even texture. Red cedar is also lightweight and has natural resistance to decay, rot, and insect damage.
What are some common uses for red cedar wood?
Red cedar wood is a popular choice for outdoor furniture, decking, siding, and fencing. It is also commonly used for indoor furniture, closets, and chests due to its natural resistance to moths and other insects.
Is red cedar considered a hardwood or softwood?
Red cedar is a softwood, not a hardwood. Softwoods come from conifer trees, while hardwoods come from deciduous trees.
How does the hardness of red cedar compare to pine?
Red cedar is generally considered to be harder than pine, but not as hard as some other hardwoods. The Janka hardness scale rates red cedar at around 900, while pine is rated at around 690.
What are some disadvantages of using red cedar wood?
One potential disadvantage of using red cedar wood is that it can be relatively expensive compared to other softwoods. Additionally, while it is naturally resistant to decay and insect damage, it is not completely immune and may still require regular maintenance to maintain its appearance and structural integrity.
Is red cedar a strong and durable wood?
Red cedar is relatively strong and durable for a softwood, but it is not as strong as many hardwoods. It has a moderate bending strength and stiffness, but may be prone to splitting or cracking if not properly cared for.