Is Cedar Good For Carving? (Ultimate Guide!)

Ever wondered if cedar is your ally in the world of wood carving? Explore this fascinating journey into the ins and outs of carving cedar!

Is Cedar Good For Carving

Cedar is a softwood that is used for siding, flooring, paneling, and interior and exterior furniture making.

But, Have you ever thought of carving beautiful projects using cedar wood?

I was interested in cedar wood carving projects and did a deep research about them.

So, let’s find out, Is Cedar good for carving?

Yes, cedar is good for carving due to its softness, straight grain, and unique color variations. However, not all cedar types are equal; yellow cedar, eastern red cedar, and white cedar are recommended for their ease of carving and desirable features, while western red cedar is tougher to work with.

But there’s a lot more to know about cedar wood carving.

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    So, in this article, I’ll explore, whether is cedar good for carving, is cedar wood easy to carve, properties of cedar wood that are important in wood carving with pros and cons.

    Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.

    Let’s jump in!

    Cedar wood carved projects
    Cedar wood carved projects

    Is Cedar Wood Easy to Carve?

    Cedar wood is easy to carve since it is soft and brittle. Cedar wood has straight evenly spread grain which is useful to make clean cuts like butter.

    Cut along the direction of the cedar wood grain to prevent the wood from chipping.

    Cedar wood is excellent for beginners for practicing to learn how to get finer details in their wood carving projects because cedar cuts like a piece of cheese.

    Cedar wood is very soft and has open grained structure. Therefore, even though it is easy to cut into, the wood can easily split and tear out.

    Makes sure not to carve cedar wood as poplar wood because carving with cedar need lots of patience and practice.

    If you don’t follow the correct wood carving techniques with cedar, it can be a nightmare to carve cedar because of its extreme softness.

    Overall, cedarwood is one of the best and easiest woods to carve because it cuts easily.

    But on the other hand, there’s a high possibility of splitting the wood because of its poor hardness and toughness.

    Characteristic features of Cedar wood
    Characteristic features of Cedar wood

    Cedar Wood Carving Tips

    Here’re some tips that are helpful to carve cedar without making any mistakes.

    Those tips are important especially if you’re starting a wood carving field to gain some experience because carving cedar wood needs lots of patience.

    Here are some tips to carve cedar wood properly,

    1. Carve along the wood grain
    2. Use sharp tools
    3. Prevent stop cuts

    So, let’s discuss each of the above tips to carve cedar without creating a mess.

    1. Carve Along the Wood Grain

    Cedar wood is a straight grain wood that is super useful to make clean cuts.

    But you need to have a clear idea about the cutting direction because the wood is prone to crack and tear.

    Make sure not to move the blade against the direction of the wood grain because the wood will easily chip or tear and ruin your wood carving.

    Carve along the direction of the cedar wood grain to get a nice and smooth surface.

    Cedar wood carved cat figure
    Cedar wood carved cat figure

    2. Use Sharp Tools

    Carve cedar with well-sharpened tools because, with dull toolsets, you cannot get finer and more accurate details which will reduce the appearance of your carving.

    Plus, gouges need to be free from blemishes to avoid making scratches and scars on cedar wood.

    Cedar is a highly sensitive wood against sharp tools. Therefore, cut the wood with care. Hiding scars and scratches is nearly impossible.

    Sharp tools give a smooth and shiny surface for your cedar wood carvings.

    Cedar wood carved spoon
    Cedar wood carved spoon

    3. Prevent Stop Cuts

    Avoid making stop cuts if you want to make cedar wood carvings with fine details.

    Stop cuts prevent the wood from chipping beyond the edge. This is helpful to gain a nice and smooth surface.

    But on the other hand, stop cuts crush the cedar wood fibers leading to wood splitting easily.

    Therefore, avoid making stop cuts to get finer accurate details in your carvings with a nice appearance.

    Cedar wood carving projects
    Cedar wood carving projects

    Cedar Wood Properties That Rae Important in Wood Carving

    Cedar wood is filled with lots of important qualities that are important in various wood carving projects. Some of them are unique and unable to get from other woods.

    Here’re some popular properties of Cedar wood that are useful in wood carving. Let’s discuss them one by one.

    1. Durable and Long-lasting

    Cedar wood is considered one of the highest durable softwoods that can use for wood carving.

    Even though it is softwood, cedar has excellent resistance to rotting and decaying.  

    Cedar has good moisture resistance which really is important for outdoor projects.

    Cedar wood carvings can be placed in harsh weather conditions because it has good resistance to environmental elements.

    Cedar wood repels bugs and insects. Therefore, cedar wood carvings won’t get damaged by insects and bug attacks.

    Because of having good moisture resistance, decay resistance, and repelling bugs and insects, cedar wood carvings are able to live over decades with proper care.

    Cedar can be easily recommended for any wood carving project.

    Cedar wood is strong and has the ability to withstand high forces, wear and tear. The compressive strength and bending strength of cedar wood 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 cedar wood has high compressive strength and bending strength.

    Therefore, its durability is high, and able to use for much longer than regular softwood species.

    Did you know fact about Cedar wood For Carving
    Did you know fact about Cedar wood For Carving

    2. Lightweight

    Cedar wood is light in weight and easy to hold and control compared to other wood carving woods.

    It is super user-friendly and easy to work with.

    Because of being more lightweight than most of the hardwoods that are commonly used for wood carving projects, cedar wood is perfect for sculptures on house walls.

    It has good rot resistance and is light enough to fix against the house wall.

    Cedar wood carved heart
    Cedar wood carved heart

    3. Attractive

    Cedar wood comes in pinkish-red color with purple color tinges that add a unique modern look to your home or exterior environment.

    It is an attractive wood that helps to decorate your beautiful wood carving creation.

    Cedar stains pretty well. Therefore, you can give cedar any color you want by staining it with your preferred color.

    If you want to add dark rich color to your cedar carvings, pick them up and apply a dark stain on them.

    Cedarwood carvings dry quickly and result in a nice and smooth appearance.

    Cedar wood carved flower
    Cedar wood carved flower

    4. Affordable

    Cedar wood is affordable not because of being low-quality wood but for its high availability. Usually, cedar wood can be seen in almost any local hardware store.

    It’s a cheap and excellent wood for any wood carving project.

    If you’re a beginner in wood carving cedar wood is great to work with because it is cheap, and you can practice more and more without considering much about its price tag.

    Cedar wood is well worth for the paying price compared to its excellent wood carving properties.

    Cedar wood carved dog figure
    Cedar wood-carved dog figure

    Pros and Cons of Using Cedar Wood for Carving

    Easy to carve because of being softNo food is safe because of the toxicity of cedar oil
    SoftProne to chip and split
    High strengthNeed regular maintenance
    High durabilityHighly sensitive wood
    LightweightColor fade away easily
    Attractive in color 
    Rot and decay resistant 
    Repel bugs and insects 
    Easy to stain and finish 

    As you can see, cedar has lots of advantages compared to its disadvantages.

    This is why cedar wood has become popular in the wood carving world. It is filled with carving benefits.

    Cedar wood carved stick
    Cedar wood carved stick

    Is Cedar Good for Whittling?

    Cedar wood is great for whitling since it is soft and easy to cut. Cedar wood is easy to carve with hand tools such as chisels, gouges, and knives.

    But your wood carving tools need to be well sharpened because dull wood carving tools chip and tear out the wood.

    Cedar wood holds its shape so well. Therefore, you can easily make cuts, and round edges and flatten the surface without cracking the wood.

    Cedar wood is excellent for spoon carving.

    Shaping, rounding, and cutting smooth edges with cedar wood is easy because it is lightweight and able to control as we want.

    Carve along the direction of the wood grain to make cuts like butter and avoid wood from splintering.

    Cedar wood kitchen bowl
    Cedar wood kitchen bowl

    Is Cedar Good for Chainsaw Craving?

    Yes, Cedar wood works pretty well with chainsaws and other power carving tools. It has good machinability.

    Blades of your chainsaw, need to be well sharpened before working with cedar wood to avoid wood from splintering.

    Make sure to cut along the direction of the wood grain to prevent Cedar wood from chipping away.

    Cedar Wood Carvings

    Here’re some popular examples of cedar wood carvings,

    • Spoon carvings
    • Bowls
    • Sculptures
    • Wall art
    • Signboard
    • Crates
    • Boxes
    • Rings

    As you can see cedar wood can use pretty much for any wood carving project.

    Now you have a clear idea bout using cedar wood for carvings with its properties and uses.

    Tip for carving cedar wood
    Tip for carving cedar wood

    Is Red Cedar Good for Carving?

    Red cedar is good for carving. Cedar wood is excellent for outdoor wood carving projects because of its high strength and durability.

    It makes a sturdy wood carving project with excellent resistance against environmental elements like moisture.

    Is White Cedar Good for Carving?

    White cedar is an excellent cedar wood species for carving. It has good flexibility and is able to get finer and more accurate details with it.

    Therefore, white cedar is useful for both indoor and outdoor carving applications like making signboards, fences, and other decorative items.

    White cedar lives longer than red cedar, but red cedar is stronger than white cedar.

    Ultimately, both red and white cedar are excellent choices for wood carving only if you followed the correct methods with well-sharpened wood carving tools.

    Tip for carving cedar
    Tip for carving cedar

    Best Cedar Alternatives for Carving?

    Here’re some best alternative wood types you can use instead of cedar with excellent carving properties,

    • Basswood
    • Pine
    • Black walnut
    • Paper birch
    • Butternut

    Is Cedar Waterproof?

    Cedar wood is not waterproof, but it has good resistance against moisture.

    Placing cedar wood in high moisture content can damage the wood only unless you stain and finish the wood properly.

    The wood tends to warp without proper sealing methods.

    To prevent the wood from warping apply a quality stain or finisher to protect against outside environmental elements.

    Cedar wood expands when it has high moisture content and shrinks when it is dried.

    Make sure to keep your cedar wood carvings in a less moist environment to protect it much longer.

    Congrats folks! Now you have good knowledge about, Is cedar wood good for carving with all its characteristic features.

    Cedar wood carved figure
    Cedar wood carved figure

    So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.


    Which types of cedar are best for carving?

    Yellow cedar, eastern red cedar, and white cedar are considered ideal for carving, with yellow cedar being praised for its aromatic smell and easy carving.

    Are there any drawbacks to carving with cedar?

    While cedar is generally excellent for carving, it can be prone to dents and dings due to its softness, and it may not hold fine, intricate details as well as harder woods.

    What should be the ring count of cedar wood for optimal carving?

    Cedar wood with a ring count between 25 to 50 rings per inch provides an ideal balance of softness and resilience for carving.

    How does cedar respond to wood burning techniques?

    Cedar responds beautifully to wood burning techniques, with the natural colors of cedar offering a lovely contrast when mixed with burned areas.

    Can I use cedar for power carving?

    Yes, cedar, especially red cedar, can be effectively used for power carving with tools like angle grinders or other electrical tools.

    How does the carving experience differ between green cedar and dry cedar?

    The carving experience with green cedar can be pleasant, but it might present some challenges due to grain tear, affecting the final look of the carving; dry cedar, on the other hand, offers a more predictable and consistent carving experience.

    Is all cedar equally good for carving?

    No, not all cedar is equal for carving. Western red cedar and some other types are not ideal for carving and can be more challenging to work with.

    Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Cedar Good for Carving?

    In this article, I have deeply discussed is cedar good for carving with its excellent carving properties and how to carve cedar wood with its pros and cons.

    Cedar is great for carving since it is softwood with high durability and strength. Cedar wood has natural rot and decay resistance which is useful to protect cedar carvings from moisture. Cedar is easy to carve and holds its shape well. Therefore, cedar can use for any wood carving project.  

    Make sure your wood carving tools are sharp enough to avoid wood from splintering.

    Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions as well.

    Hope you have gained good knowledge about carving cedar wood with proper methods with tips and tricks.

    Let’s give try to carve your next woodworking project with cedar. Practice makes you perfect in woodcarving!

    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! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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