Is Cedar A Strong Wood? With Pros and Cons

is cedar a strong wood

Cedar is a domestic wood that grows on the east and west coasts of the US. It has some great qualities that are important in woodworking. Overall, Cedar is a versatile wood with so many uses. If you have no prior experience with Cedar wood and are willing to use Cedar for your next woodworking project, I know you’re probably curious about, Is Cedar a strong wood?

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Yes, Cedar is a strong wood with relatively high compressive strength, bending strength, and durable than many other woods. Because of being a strong softwood, Cedar is less likely to crack and warp. Cedar has good dimensional stability that can use for furniture, flooring, and construction applications.

But there’s a lot more to know about the strength of Cedar wood.

In this article we deeply discuss is Cedar a strong wood, how strong is Cedar, the pros, and cons of Cedar, is Cedar good for furniture, cabinets in terms of its strength, and how hard Cedar wood is.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about the strength of Cedar compared to other popular wood types as well.

Let’s jump in!

How Strong Is Cedar?

Cedar is a generally strong wood compared to many softwoods and some hardwoods as well. The strengths of Cedar are different from species to species even though they’re from the same family. For example, Red Aromatic Cedar is stronger than Red Cedar and Red Cedar is stronger than White Cedar.

The compressive strength and bending strengths of Cedar wood species are as follows,

Wood TypeCompressive StrengthBending Strength
Aromatic Red Cedar6,020 psi8,800 psi
Western Red Cedar4,560 psi7,500 psi
White Cedar3,960 psi6,500 psi

As you can see there’s a huge difference between Cedar wood species in terms of their strength. So, make sure to pick the right Cedar for your woodworking applications for a better outcome.

The strength of wood does not always depend on the compressive and bending strength. There’re some other values as well which help to get an idea about its strength.

The strength of Cedar depends on the values of several other factors as well. They are,

  • Density
  • Hardness
  • Stiffness

So, let’s find out what are the values of the above factors to determine how strong is Cedar.

Wood TypeDensityStiffness
Aromatic Red Cedar0.47 kg/m30.88 Mpsi
Western Red Cedar0.32 kg/m31.11 Mpsi
White Cedar0.32 kg/m30.80 Mpsi

As you can see densities of Cedar wood species are low. This is why Cedar wood is lightweight and has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. Its strength is significantly according to the weight of the wood.

Cedar comes from a large, coniferous evergreen tree. Therefore, it is a softwood. But in terms of strength, it has excellent durability. For example, Cedar is stronger than aspen and ash which are known as hardwoods.

Compressive Strength of Cedar Compared to Other Woods

By referring following chart, you can get an idea about is Cedar a strong wood in compressive strength compared to other popular wood types.

Wood TypeCompressive Strength
Aromatic Red Cedar6,020 psi
Western Red Cedar4,560 psi
White Cedar3,960 psi
Ash5,820 psi
Aspen4,250 psi
Beech7,300 psi
Cherry7,110 psi
Chestnut5,320 psi
Hard Maple7,830 psi
Soft Maple6,540 psi
Red Oak6,760 psi
Poplar5,540 psi
Walnut7,580 psi
Douglas Fir7,230 psi
Hemlock7,200 psi
Sugar Pine4,460 psi
White Pine4,800 psi
Spruce5,610 psi
Basswood4,730 psi
Hickory9,210 psi

As you can see compressive strengths of Cedar wood species are in a stable position compared to other wood types.

So, let’s find out the pros and cons of Cedar in terms of its strength.

Pros and Cons of Cedar

ProsCons
High compressive strengthFades color over time
High bending strengthSoftwood
High durabilityNeed High maintenance
LightweightFlammable
Resistant against Crack and Warp 
Affordable 
Temperature resistant 
High workability 
Excellent dimensional stability 
Versatile 

As you can see Cedar comes with lots of benefits. It can basically use for any woodworking project. If you’re looking for strong wood with lightweight at the same time, Cedar is the best wood for you.

Is Cedar Good for Furniture In terms Of Strength?

Cedar is an excellent wood for furniture. It has generally higher strength than most hardwoods and softwoods. Plus, it is lightweight and can withstand many environmental elements because of its high dimensional stability.

Among many different types of Cedar woods, Eastern and western Cedar are the popular wood types for furniture. This is because of their high strength than White Cedar.

Cedar wood can use for both indoor and outdoor furniture. But because of having good weather resistance, Cedar is well known for outdoor furniture. Because of having a good resistance against outdoor elements, Cedar can use as an alternative wood for hardwood Teak for less money and less heavy.

Here’re the popular furniture types you can build using Cedar,

  • Chests
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Beds
  • Desks
  • Dressers
  • Cupboards
  • Sofas

Cedar furniture is strong and durable. They can easily last over decades with proper finishing and maintenance. Cedar furniture is less likely to crack and warp. Western Red Cedar contains organic oil that repels bugs and insects. It will minimize pest invasions and help to protect your Cedar furniture from bugs and insect attacks.

Cedar wood has excellent resistance against temperature changes. Therefore, Cedar wood furniture stays cool even on hot days. Cedar doesn’t absorb much heat.

Cedar is mostly used as a fencing material. It is durable and withstands outdoor weather conditions. Cedar fences are lightweight and resistant to insect damage and rotting. Plus, the wood does not need to be treated because it already has natural chemicals that protect the wood. Cedar fences and other outdoor woodworks look great for a long time.

Is Cedar Strong Enough For a Bench?

Cedar is strong enough for a bench. The bench is woodwork that frequently needs to deal with force and pressure.

So, the material that you need to use for the bench should have good compressive strength to bear under high compression and it should have good flexural strength to work against pressure without splitting the board. Cedar wood has both high compressive strength and high flexural strength. Therefore, we can consider Cedar wood is strong enough for a bench.

Compressive strength is how much weight/force can bear before the wood crack or break.

Western Red Cedar wood has a compressive strength of 4,560 psi and flexural strength of 3,300 psi which are significantly high and excellent to work as bench material. It has good strength and flexibility at the same time.

Is Cedar Strong Enough for Cabinets

Yes, Cedar is strong enough for cabinets. It is a durable, versatile wood that thrives in damp climates. Cedar wood doesn’t shrink, warp, swell or decay easily. Therefore, cabinets made of Cedar last over decades with proper maintenance.

As interior woodwork, we need to focus on the appearance of the wood that we use for cabinetry. Cedar has a beautiful appearance with nice color. Cedar takes stain well and finishing is also easy. It comes with nice red and white color combinations.

Even a beginner in woodworking can work with Cedar to make cabinetry because the wood has high stability and high workability. Nailing, gluing, screwing, and cutting are easy because of having good strength and stability.

How Hard Is Cedar?

Cedar comes from a coniferous, evergreen tree. Therefore, Cedar belongs to the softwood family. According to the Janka hardness ratings, Cedar has hardness ratings as follows,

  • Aromatic Red Cedar has a hardness of 900 lbf (4,003 N)
  • Western Red Cedar has a hardness of 350 lbf (1,557 N)
  • White Cedar has a hardness of 320 lbf (1,335 N)

As you can see there’s a huge difference between aromatic Red Cedar and Western Red Cedar in terms of hardness. The hardness of three species of Cedar varies over a long-range. Therefore. Always make sure to select the right option for your woodworking projects, because Cedar is like a whole new category that spread through a hardness scale from low to high.

Janka hardness test is a standard method of measuring the hardness of any wood according to its resistance to wear and tear. Woods with high wear and dent resistance, score higher ratings on the Janka hardness rating scale.

Here’re the hardness ratings of popular woods that we mostly use for woodworking projects. From this scale, you can get an idea about the strength and hardness of Cedar compared to other wood types.

Wood speciesHardness value
Brazilian Walnut3,684 lbf (16,390 N)
Red Mahogany, Turpentine2,697 lbf (12,000 N)
Brazilian Cherry, Jatoba2,350 lbf (10,500 N)
Golden Teak2,330 lbf (10,400 N)
Hickory, Pecan, Satinwood1,820 lbf (8,100 N)
Hard Maple, Sugar Maple1,450 lbf (6,400 N)
White Oak1,360 lbf (6,000 N)
Ash (White)1,320 lbf (5,900 N)
American Beech1,300 lbf (5,800 N)
Red Oak (Northern)1,290 lbf (5,700 N)
Yellow Birch / Baltic birch1,260 lbf (5,600 N)
Teak1,155 lbf (5,140 N)
Black Walnut, North American Walnut1,010 lbf (4,500 N)
Cherry995 lbf (4,430 N)
Black Cherry, Imbuia950 lbf (4,200 N)
Red Maple950 lbf (4,200 N)
Aromatic Red Cedar900 lbf (4,003 N)
Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
Silver Maple700 lbf (3,100 N)
Redwood420 lbf (1,868 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)
Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)
Red Cedar350 lbf (1,557 N)
White Cedar320 lbf (1,335 N)
Balsa Wood67 lbf (300 N)

As you can see in terms of hardness, Cedar has low ratings compared to other wood types. This is why Cedar is light in weight. As a result of being a softwood with high compressive strength and bending strength, Cedar has got excellent strength to weight ratio.

Plus, here’re the other advantages Cedar got because of being a softwood with less hardness,

  • High workability: Cedar is easy to work with. Even if you’re a beginner or pro in woodworking you can use Cedar pretty much for any woodworking application.
  • Affordable: Because of being a softwood, you can get Cedar for a cheaper price. In the woodworking world, Cedar is considered the best alternative wood for Teak wood. so, basically, you can use Cedar wood instead of using teak for spending less money.
  • Sustainability: Cedar grows faster than hardwoods. Therefore, it is considered a renewable source.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions regarding is Cedar a strong wood compared to other wood types.

Is Cedar Stronger Than Pine?

Cedar is weaker than Pine. Both Cedar and Pine softwoods have almost similar values in strength. When we look at the compressive strengths of Cedar and Pine, Aromatic Red Cedar is stronger than both Sugar Pine and White Pine, but weaker than Yellow Pine.

The compressive strength and bending strengths of Cedar and Pine wood species are as follows,

Wood TypeCompressive StrengthBending Strength
Aromatic Red Cedar6,020 psi8,800 psi
Western Red Cedar4,560 psi7,500 psi
White Cedar3,960 psi6,500 psi
Sugar Pine4,460 psi8,200 psi
White Pine4,800 psi8,600 psi
Yellow Pine8,470 psi14,500 psi

As you can see Yellow Pine is much stronger than all the Cedar wood species. Therefore, you can replace Cedar wood with Yellow Pine for many woodworking projects in terms of their strength.

Is Cedar Stronger Than Douglas Fir?

Douglas Fir is stronger than Cedar. Both are softwoods. The compressive strength and bending strength of Douglas Fir are much higher than the strengths of all Cedar wood species.

Compressive strength and bending strengths of Cedar and Douglas Fir species are as follows,

Wood TypeCompressive StrengthBending Strength
Aromatic Red Cedar6,020 psi8,800 psi
Western Red Cedar4,560 psi7,500 psi
White Cedar3,960 psi6,500 psi
Douglas Fir7,230 psi12,400 psi

Is Cedar Stronger Than Spruce?

Aromatic Red Cedar is stronger than Spruce. But Western Red Cedar and White Cedar are weaker than Spruce. Both Cedar and Spruce are softwoods with similar characteristic qualities.

The compressive strength and bending strengths of Cedar and Spruce species are as follows,

Wood TypeCompressive StrengthBending Strength
Aromatic Red Cedar6,020 psi8,800 psi
Western Red Cedar4,560 psi7,500 psi
White Cedar3,960 psi6,500 psi
Spruce5,610 psi10,200 psi

As you can see in terms of bending strength, Spruce is much stronger and more flexible than Cedar wood species.

So, those are the answers to some burning questions is Cedar a strong wood compared to other wood types topic.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Cedar a Strong Wood?

In this article we have deeply discussed is Cedar a strong wood, how strong is Cedar, the pros and cons of Cedar and is Cedar strong enough for several woodworking applications as well.

Cedar is generally a strong wood with great durability and stability. Because of having excellent weather resistance and bug-repelling ability, Cedar is considered one of the most versatile woods among woodworkers. It is an excellent wood to learn woodworking techniques especially if you’re a beginner.

Furthermore, I have answered some frequently asked questions regarding is Cedar a strong wood compared to other wood types like Pine, Douglas Fir, and Spruce.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about the strength of Cedar wood in detail. Make sure to start your next woodworking project with Cedar. Then you’ll practically learn how easy to work with this wonderful wood species. Keep practicing and have fun in woodworking!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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