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Milling Aromatic Red Cedar

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Forum topic by SteveInVa posted 12-15-2015 11:03 PM 709 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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SteveInVa

21 posts in 1416 days


12-15-2015 11:03 PM

I am making a cedar closet as part of a larger set of cabinets and laundry bins. I am going to line the closet with T&G aromatic red cedar but am thinking of picking up some rough sawn 4/4 ARC from the local lumber yard and milling my own shelves and cove molding. Each shelf will be 2 feet wide and 20 inches deep. So, I would have to cut the 8 foot boards into two foot lengths, plane them down to desired thickness (probably 3/4”) and then plate join three of those 2-foot lengths to form a shelf 21 inches deep. I will make 5 or 6 shelves of this size (the closet is 84 inches high)

I have heard that milling ARC can be a challenge and that it can really wear out planer knives, and I am seeking your advice and wisdom on what to watch out for as I plane and cut these boards? What should I beware of before embarking on this phase of the project? Or am I better off buying 1/2 thick ARC plywood (available from Home Depot online only) and eat the extra cost but be assured of uniformly even and level shelves and just mill the little that I need for cove molding and edgebanding?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

-- Steve


24 replies so far

View toddbeaulieu's profile

toddbeaulieu

780 posts in 2464 days


#1 posted 12-15-2015 11:10 PM

Milling cedar is hard on knives? Geeze, I never heard that. I’ve milled plenty of eastern, but probably not aromatic. I’ve worked with aromatic closet lining and found it to be every bit as soft. Is there something I’m missing, like abrasives or something?

First, I’d always mill them longer and THEN cut them to avoid snipe and eliminate potentially ruining a piece because of the end.

If it were me, I’d check out what’s in stock for 4S and if it’s suitable to the project and flat and straight, I’d consider it because RS is still a lot of work to mill and you have to deal with waste, varying depending on the stock you end up. I enjoy RS milling and prefer that to have total control, rarely going with 4S, BUTTTTTT … I’ve also had a lot of second thought specifically about cedar because of the work involved in getting around knots and branches in the RS.

Not sure that I helped, but just my thoughts.

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

3665 posts in 1180 days


#2 posted 12-15-2015 11:14 PM

I’ve planed quite a bit of aromatic cedar and didn’t notice any accelerated wear on my knives. It’s soft enough that it didn’t prove to be too taxing on the planer either despite having knives that while still sharp, certainly weren’t brand new.

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SteveInVa

21 posts in 1416 days


#3 posted 12-15-2015 11:14 PM

Thanks for the quick reply, Todd. The lumber at the mill would be RS, not 4S. So, I would have to work around knots and the like. And like you, I enjoy milling RS. And good advice to cut them long to avoid the snipe.

-- Steve

View conifur's profile

conifur

955 posts in 611 days


#4 posted 12-15-2015 11:45 PM

Aromatic Cedar, be sure to wear a mask, and even the dust on skin can be very irritating.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14940 posts in 2150 days


#5 posted 12-16-2015 01:48 AM

ARS (Eastern Red Cedar) is very soft BUT the knots can be hard and tend to chip out or come out completely and bang around inside your planer.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2408 posts in 2382 days


#6 posted 12-16-2015 02:21 AM

I plane about 450 board feet of rough eastern red (aromatic) cedar every year now for six years. I re-saw it to 1/2” and plane to 3/8”. That works out to over 700 lineal feet of planning each year. The only issue to watch for are knots coming loose and rattling around inside of the planer. Damage to the planer like this has happened to me often. I get cedar pretty cheaply (less than $2 a BF) but buying the already milled stuff may be worth the cost.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View nick_name's profile

nick_name

17 posts in 425 days


#7 posted 12-16-2015 06:04 AM

it will make your dust collector smell fantastic for about 6 weeks. No issue on planer knives.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2187 posts in 940 days


#8 posted 12-16-2015 12:37 PM

I’ve planed a ton of it. It is a very soft wood the only wear factor are the knots. Jim is correct if a knot ever comes loose you’ll know it real quick. Can be especially dangerous when ripping on the TS it can be a heart stopper.

Bottom line: Pays to check the knots before planing or sawing ;-)

BUT – DO worry about the dust, especially when table saw or sanding. It’s kind of like MDF it goes every where and gets on everything.

Cedar dust can be extremely irritating to the lungs so make sure you wear a full face respirator (not a cheap paper dust mask) and blow all your clothes off before going back in the house.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View LiveEdge's profile

LiveEdge

486 posts in 1080 days


#9 posted 12-16-2015 10:26 PM

I may be wrong, but the occupational dust risks are mainly with Western Red Cedar (unrelated to Eastern Red Cedar) and their high concentration of plicatic acid. I was not under the impression that ERC has the same problem and couldn’t find too much info to the contrary.

View verdesardog's profile

verdesardog

137 posts in 2071 days


#10 posted 12-16-2015 11:55 PM

A helical cutter head would be best for knotty wood like cedar….and dust protection is a good idea, cedar is known to be toxic to some and irritating to most people.

-- .. heyoka ..

View conifur's profile

conifur

955 posts in 611 days


#11 posted 12-17-2015 12:05 AM

LiveEdge and all, go to ARC, I mean we are all on the internet here, just doing a search can answer your own questions, or as I do verify a statement b4 I give it, or is it just laziness?????
http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/wood-allergies-and-toxicity/

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View SteveInVa's profile

SteveInVa

21 posts in 1416 days


#12 posted 12-17-2015 12:06 AM

Thanks to all for these very helpful replies and advice. It looks like I should try to work around knots as best as possible and do as much of the cutting (and all of the sanding) outside to minimize the dust (though it could bring a nice aroma to the shop when finished).

I’ll post an update after I’m done milling it, but that won’t be until January, after the holidays.

-- Steve

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2187 posts in 940 days


#13 posted 12-17-2015 01:44 AM



I may be wrong, but the occupational dust risks are mainly with Western Red Cedar (unrelated to Eastern Red Cedar) and their high concentration of plicatic acid. I was not under the impression that ERC has the same problem and couldn t find too much info to the contrary.

- LiveEdge

It definitely puts out an obnoxious dust. To be exact, I guess I’m using southern red cedar.

Could just be me, but I have definitely has respiratory issues afterwards.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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rwe2156

2187 posts in 940 days


#14 posted 12-17-2015 01:51 AM



LiveEdge and all, go to ARC, I mean we are all on the internet here, just doing a search can answer your own questions, or as I do verify a statement b4 I give it, or is it just laziness?????
http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/wood-allergies-and-toxicity/

- conifur

I agree, but personal experience counts for something, no?

Thanks for the resource. It verified my experience!!

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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conifur

955 posts in 611 days


#15 posted 12-17-2015 01:57 AM

rew2156,
I am glad, SRC is bad too.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

showing 1 through 15 of 24 replies

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