Cedar is a common wood to carve, there are a few species of cedar that have their differences but overall they all have similar traits and characteristics. To start with we must answer a very important question, is cedar wood good for carving?
Cedar wood is very good for carving. Cedar has a different species such as yellow cedar that is smooth and aromatic when carved, red cedar that is more difficult to carve but has a rewarding red color, and white cedar that is suitable for almost all types of carving. Overall cedar is a very pleasant wood to carve and is liked by most woodcarvers.
There is a lot to understand about cedar wood, if you work with it for 10+ years you will have a great feel for what the wood is like. Do that, or continue reading the article to find out more about its characteristics, tips for carving, and what the best type of cedar you need to be looking for.
How Good Is Cedar? Characteristics and Tips To Carve Cedar
When it comes to carving, cedar is not the most unique of woods, but that does not make it any worse than all the special rare, and fancy kinds of wood out there, cedar does the job just as well and better at times due to its simplicity.
The only unique trait of cedar wood is the red color that appears in western red cedar. This color is uncommon and could give you a nice variation on your usual brown carvings if you like how red carvings look. This color can be found in only one of the cedar wood species, which also appears to be the most difficult to carve. Scroll down to check out what carving out of red cedar looks like.
With that said all other kinds of cedar except for the western red cedar are pretty easy to carve. How easy? well, if you ever carved ash wood, then cedar is a little easier than ash. In other words, it is an enjoyable wood to carve.
Cedar also has a tendency to be pretty small, not in height but in width. As you see from the featured image above cedar logs are not thick, they sometimes can be, but not enough to chainsaw carve or anything. This of course, gives you a limit on the variety of carvings that you can create.
Detailing on cedar wood is surprisingly good for the density that it has. It is not good for way too small and fine details, but normal size ornaments and bits or realism in the fork of detail stand out really well and are a pleasure to carve
Now that we discussed the characteristics of cedar wood, there is some important information for you to know when working with this wood.
Tips on Cedar wood
Size really matters when it comes to cedar wood. You really want cedar to be more than 25 rings/inch otherwise it will not be a good experience for carving. With that said over 50 is a nightmare to carve, too dense and touch, so the range in between is perfect for cedar wood.
Green cedar vs dry cedar. This choice depends on the kind of woodcarver that you yourself are. Carving cedar green is not a bad experience (if you like carving wood green) but be aware that there will be a lot of pulls where the grain will tear, this is not easily seen but overall will impact how the carving looks in a negative way.
It is very nice to apply your woodburning skills to cedar wood. Mixing natural cedar and burned cedar is especially nice as for the hints of red or yellow in the color of the wood.
Different Types Of Cedar
There are three main types of cedar that are used for carving. While there are more than just 3 species, most of them can closely relate to one of the below-described types of cedar.
Yellow cedar is our favorite type of cedar. It has a very aromatic when you carve it, it really does smells fantastic making the experience even more pleasurable.
Yellow cedar is very smooth, carving it with hand tools is easy, which makes it a great wood for such projects like spirit faces and small in the round projects.
Red cedar can actually be pretty different. For example, the western red cedar and the eastern red cedar don’t have so much in common apart from the iconic red color.
What is important to know is that eastern red cedar is much better than western cedar. If you are buying wood for carving, make sure you double-check what type of cedar you looking into, because the difference between the two is significant. Western red cedar is stubborn and intimidating while eastern cedar is quite a bit more prone to being nice to you.
Red cedar is overall a little more difficult to carve than white and yellow cedar, but as mentioned before it has a nice red color that is an interesting variation to have when carving mostly brown and light brown woods.
White cedar is a much more all-rounded wood that is just universal for any kinds of projects. White cedar is the basswood of cedar.
While some types of white cedar have their own specialties, most of the white cedar you will find will just be the normal common wood with nothing impressive and nothing upsetting about it.
To conclude, yellow cedar is the best to get your hands on, but if it is not available, then white cedar is the basic alternative. When you are feeling like challenging yourself to something new, get to carving red cedar and discover what you can do with its unique color for yourself.
Is Cedar Good For Power Carving
Cedar is in fact just as good for power carving as it is for whittling, in the round carving, spirit carving, and spoon carving.
A very nice advantage that power carvers have, over hand tool carvers is that they can carve red cedar much easier when working with an angle grinder or other electrical tools.
In the video below you can see a beautiful own being carved out of red cedar. Take the chance and check out the color of red cedar in the video, and how you can mix it with wood burning for a nice contrast.
This was our complete guide cedar wood. We hope you found it interesting and wish you a pleasant experience carving all the different types of cedar!