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Cedar, Eastern White

Common Name(s): Northern White Cedar, Eastern Arborvitae


In tree form, Thuja occidentalis is commonly referred to as Eastern Arborvitae—or simply just Arborvitae—and is widely used as an ornamental tree, with hundreds of different cultivars in existence.


Perhaps the closest thing to Balsa that the United States has domestically, Northern White Cedar is one of the very lightest and softest of commercially available woods in the country. Yet the greatest value of this wood is not merely in its lightness, but in its resistance to decay, lending it to many exterior applications.

Thicknesses

Tree Size: 50-65 ft (15-20 m) tall, 1.3-2 ft (.4-.6 m) trunk diameter

Distribution

Northeastern North America

Scientific Name

Thuja occidentalis

Specific Gravity: Basic 

0.29

Specific Gravity:12% MC

0.35

Janka Hardness

320 lbf (1,420 N)`

Colour/Appearance

Heartwood is pale brown or tan, while the narrow sapwood is nearly white. Numerous small knots are common in the wood.

Grain/Texture

Grain is usually straight, with a fine, even texture. Moderate natural luster.

Endgrain

Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition gradual, colour contrast medium; tracheid diameter small to very small; zonate parenchyma.

Rot Resistance

Rated as durable to very durable regarding decay resistance; also resistant to termites and powder post beetles.

Workability

Northern White Cedar has good overall working characteristics, and works easily with both hand and machine tools. However, the wood is both soft and weak, giving it poor screw-holding capabilities. Northern White Cedar glues and finishes well.

Odor

Northern White Cedar has a distinct (though moderate) cedar-like smell when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity

Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Northern White Cedar has been reported to cause skin irritation, runny nose, as well as asthma-like symptoms. Reported by the USDA to be among the most allergenic woods native to the United States.

Pricing/Availability

Generally available in smaller sizes of lumber. Prices should be in the mid range for a domestic softwood.

Sustainability

This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.
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