Tips for Working with Cedar

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Forum topic by CharlesA posted 266 days ago 1521 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1105 posts in 401 days

266 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: tip question cedar milling finishing joining sanding

I’m about to build a cedar chest, made with all cedar. I’ve worked enough with cedar to know it is a different animal. What are your best tips to successful building with cedar? It appears to me, for instance, that using a smoothing plane on the face of boards is pretty difficulty with all the knots, etc., so I assume I’ll use the ROS more than usual.

Thanks for what you can contribute.

15 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


2446 posts in 954 days

#1 posted 266 days ago

I built a cedar chest w/ a cedar body and made a cherry plinth and cherry lid for it. The two woods go well together and once the cherry reaches it’s final patina is very similar in color to the cedar. The cherry was much easier to work with.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Jim Finn

1641 posts in 1525 days

#2 posted 266 days ago

I work with eastern red cedar a lot. About 350 board feet a year. My experience is that there are so many knots in most of it that they are hard to avoid. Often a slight crack will appear through the middle of these knots. I fill them with a mixture of sanding powder and white glue applied with a credit card used as a squeegee. Sand flat and to check to see that I have removed all the surface glue I wipe it with mineral spirits. Any glue sill on the surface will be readily apparent. Without this step I miss some excess glue and it will show up later when applying a finish to the project.

-- In God We Trust

View nailbanger2's profile


952 posts in 1747 days

#3 posted 266 days ago

Don’t wear any clothing of which you are fond!

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View CharlesA's profile


1105 posts in 401 days

#4 posted 266 days ago

I would have preferred a cherry chest with cedar lining, but it’s not what my friend wanted. Jim, I’ve used epoxy to fill in knots before, why do you use the sand powder and glue? Is there a particular advantage to that method?

View JesseTutt's profile


796 posts in 714 days

#5 posted 266 days ago

I always have an allergic reaction to breathing cedar. It is much much worse than other woods.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View BinghamtonEd's profile


1204 posts in 973 days

#6 posted 266 days ago

I refinished a cedar chest and built a new top for it using cedar. (there are pictures in my projects). Even though it does have knots, as long as they are small, I didn’t have any issues just sending them through the planer (reallllly light cuts, like 1/128) and then using the ROS. I didn’t fill any, but none were big/loose enough to need it.

Another tip : If you end up hand-planing any of it, save the shavings, bundle them in some cheesecloth or a nylon stocking, and stick them in a closet, dresser drawer, or even under the seat of your car (that’s what I did and my truck smells great).

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View CharlesA's profile


1105 posts in 401 days

#7 posted 265 days ago

View okwoodshop's profile


442 posts in 1778 days

#8 posted 265 days ago

Charles, I always just used a little sanding dust(cedar) and some wood glue. that may be what Jim meant??

View Jim Finn's profile (online now)

Jim Finn

1641 posts in 1525 days

#9 posted 264 days ago

Sanding powder/dust and white glue fills cracks well and is ready to sand in 20 minutes. Larger voids I use epoxy.

-- In God We Trust

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1216 posts in 676 days

#10 posted 264 days ago

The only tips I have, is get it good and dried. Not often sold KD, it air dries quick when sticked and fanned. If you can get it pretty dry, even though it won’t stay that way, it works alot easier. IMO

-- Who is John Galt?

View coachjohnson's profile


14 posts in 936 days

#11 posted 232 days ago

Man I know this is late, but Jim is talking about the powder from his ROS dust collector. Mix it with white glue and put it in small knots cracks, etc. I work with cedar a lot too. It can be a pain sometimes.

-- Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

View Bill729's profile


238 posts in 1685 days

#12 posted 232 days ago

How about a “scraper” instead of ROS? It may be equivalent—maybe worth a try on a scrap piece.


View WDHLT15's profile


1079 posts in 1079 days

#13 posted 231 days ago

The planers with the spiral heads with the carbide inserts are wonderful…............very wonderful. You get a smooth surface with no chip out.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT15 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln

View UncannyValleyWoods's profile


335 posts in 467 days

#14 posted 231 days ago

Cedar is toxic to the lungs…so wear a mask when sanding or cutting.


View Thuzmund's profile


68 posts in 232 days

#15 posted 231 days ago

The advantage of using sanding dust from the project you’re working on is that it should be a good color match.

-- Here to learn

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