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Use of Cedar in the 18th Century.
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Hivernant
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I have been enjoying the 18th Century for about 16 years now and I can't recall seeing anything made from Cedar. Is it just me or is there a reason. Thanks for the help. Mike
 
Posts: 106 | Location: Eastern West Virginia | Registered: 04 November 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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There are different kinds of cedar.

The first useful cedar that I am aware of was the Bermuda Cedar, native to the island of Bermuda. The inhabitants of that island made use of the Bermuda Cedar to build a unique kind of sailing vessel that was known as the Bermuda Sloop. These fast vessels were in great demand by the British navy for use as couriers and patrol boats. Merchants liked them because of their speed in getting cargo from point A to point B quickly. Pirates also preferred them because of their speed and ability to carry some cannon.
The ship building industry on Bermuda florished through the 18th century, until the island was finally mostly denuded of its cedar trees.

Atlantic White Cedar grows in swamps and marshland all over most of the eastern coastal plain of North America. I think of it mostly as the preferred wood for carving waterfowl decoys, and that is in fact a traditional use for it. However, it has also been used in boat building as well for clapboard siding and shingles for buildings.

The Eastern Red Cedar generally grows on poor, drier ground throughout much of the eastern half of the North America. Although the foliage of Altantic White Cedar is relatively soft, that of Eastern Red Cedar is very prickley. Red Cedar is the wood often used to make "cedar chests", and closet linings. It is said that the oils and aroma of it repels insects.
Some people are allergic to the natural oils in Red Cedar and break out in a rash if it touches their skin. Woodworkers are advised to wear long sleeves and a mask when working with Red Cedar.
My parents had a "cedar closet" in their bedroom and they worried that as a small child I would go in there to hide. I liked the smell, but the adults thought that it could overwhelm me and do me some harm.
Also, the tiny bluish "berries" that grow on Red Cedars have sometimes been dried and used as a spice in cooking food.

Out in the western sections of North America there are some other kinds of cedar. Port Orford Cedar is one that I know is very popular for building small boats.


Know what you believe in. Fight for your beliefs. Never compromise away your rights.
 
Posts: 595 | Location: Cherokee Land, Tenasi | Registered: 06 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Hivernant
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OK so we have siding, shingles and shipping. But why did they not use it for powderhorn base plugs?
 
Posts: 106 | Location: Eastern West Virginia | Registered: 04 November 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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quote:
Originally posted by Mike Shaffer:
OK so we have siding, shingles and shipping. But why did they not use it for powderhorn base plugs?


It probably was tried. Red cedar is brittle and tends to crack and split easily. Except for using it to make bug-free chests and boxes, why bother with it when there was so much other and better hard woods readily available?

Atlantic White Cedar, however, would probably make fine powderhorn plugs. But, you won't find it in West Virginia.
I grew up on the coastal plain and spent many happy days hunting in the white cedar swamps. I used to carve decoys using white cedar. The wood is white, straight grained, and easily carved.
My family sometimes even used the white cedar for a Christmas tree. I really like that kind of tree, and I miss it. It is not found here in Tennessee, either.
On the other hand, red cedar is all over this place. It grows like weeds!


Know what you believe in. Fight for your beliefs. Never compromise away your rights.
 
Posts: 595 | Location: Cherokee Land, Tenasi | Registered: 06 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Hivernant
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Thank you for the info. Mike
 
Posts: 106 | Location: Eastern West Virginia | Registered: 04 November 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
Picture of Dick
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Don't forget canoes. "Birch bark" canoes had birch skins, but were made with eastern (northern) white cedar ribs and slats.

Dick


"Est Deus in Nobis"
 
Posts: 2853 | Location: Helena, Montana | Registered: 10 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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quote:
Don't forget canoes. "Birch bark" canoes had birch skins, but were made with eastern (northern) white cedar ribs and slats.


AND - the birch bark was stitched together using thin roots from spruce or hemlock trees. Then the seams were sealed with pitch from those same trees.

Mike: I assume you meant Eastern Red Cedar when you started this topic. It sure is a pretty wood, and it does take a nice finish, but as I said, it is brittle and cracks easily.
I did build a wood-strip canoe once and used a strip of red cedar about four or five inches below the gunnel just to add a little contrasting color to the canoe. I think it turned out well.
You don't want to use red cedar to make any bowls or eating utensils because the natural oils in the cedar could be toxic. But, as a horn plug - who knows? Try it.
I keep a few small slabs of red cedar in a couple of my dresser drawers where I store some wool clothing. I think it helps to keep the moths away.


Know what you believe in. Fight for your beliefs. Never compromise away your rights.
 
Posts: 595 | Location: Cherokee Land, Tenasi | Registered: 06 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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Yellow cedar has it's oun oils the other woods do not have. It was often used in the ship building industry.

Load fast and aim slow.
 
Posts: 1646 | Location: Pacific Northwest | Registered: 08 March 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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The Tlingit and Haida Indians carved many items from cedar logs. Their huge war canoes could be used for long range travel.

They also made beautiful bent cedar boxes and their famous Cerimonial Chilcat blankets were made with cedar bark and mountin goat fur.

Load fast and aim slow.
 
Posts: 1646 | Location: Pacific Northwest | Registered: 08 March 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
Picture of Stophel
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Every now and then you see an old log cabin made of (eastern) red cedar. I think that would be freakin' awesome. I don't think using red cedar for shingles would be a successful venture. It would bust all to pieces when you nailed it (as mentioned earlier, it is rather brittle). It is NOT a strong wood at all, and isn't really useful for much like furniture.

I may be imagining, but somewhere, I read an 18th century description (Per Kalm??? maybe???) of someone who made the wainscoting in their house from red cedar.... the writer commented on the striking color and aroma of the wood, and also mentioned how the wood turned gray quite quickly when exposed to the weather, though it does weather well.
 
Posts: 40 | Location: Kentucky | Registered: 02 August 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Pilgrim
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I have a turkey call carved out of cedar by my grandpa. We have so much of it on our farm that we use it for corner posts when fixing fence.


Over-the-log shooting, the second most fun you can have laying down.
 
Posts: 52 | Location: Volunteer State | Registered: 02 April 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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Although we call lots of trees 'cedars,' there is a great mix up in the family.

Northern whitecedar and Western redcedar are Thujas, or arborvitaes, and are in the Cypress family.

Alaska Yellow Cedar and Port Orford Cedar are also in the cypress family, though neither are Thujas.

Eastern red cedar is really a juniper.

Thankfully for our sanity, bald cypress are in the cypress family.

The bottom line is that these are different plants, and have different characteristics that can make their best uses different.

Sparks


"I thought when you said you chased tornadoes, it was just a metaphor."
--soon to be ex-fiance in Twister
 
Posts: 238 | Location: Boise | Registered: 12 November 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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Correct.

The Eastern Red Cedar is scientifically named the Juniperus Virginiana and is in fact a specie of juniper.
Likewise, the Bermuda Cedar that I first mentioned as being once popular for ship building is the Juniperus Bermudiana. It is also a juniper.
The Norther White Cedar is the Thuja Accidentalis. It is a cypress. It is similar to my favorite, the Atlantic White Cedar that is actually the Chamaecyparis Thyoides. It is also a specie of cypress.

Regardless; to the average Larry, Moe, and Curly they are all "cedars".


Know what you believe in. Fight for your beliefs. Never compromise away your rights.
 
Posts: 595 | Location: Cherokee Land, Tenasi | Registered: 06 January 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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