Any Advice on Japanese Cedar?

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Forum topic by iozl posted 07-23-2009 10:38 PM 6734 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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50 posts in 3671 days

07-23-2009 10:38 PM

Hi Folks,
A question for you: has anyone out there worked with Japanese cedar before? I am going to salvage a few logs of it later today from the grounds of a condo I own. (The 2 trees didn’t need to be cut down, but that’s another story.) I was going to take it to a local person to have it milled and then was planning on air drying it for the appropriate amount of time.
I was doing a little searching on the Internet, and I came across one article that said it’s too soft to use for furniture. I didn’t think a wood could be ‘softer’ than western red cedar, which I’ve used quite a bit for my outdoor furniture. I had hoped to use the Japanese cedar for an outdoor bench or maybe even something for indoors in a few years when it dried. (I had also hoped that perhaps this species would be ‘harder’ than western red, but it looks like those hopes are dashed.)
If anyone out there has any experience working with this species I would greatly appreciate any feedback. I’d really hate to just see it turned into woodchips, but then again I don’t want to spend all the time, effort, and money for naught.

4 replies so far

View Evie's profile


37 posts in 3194 days

#1 posted 07-23-2009 10:51 PM

Iozl. gosh I have never used Japanese cedar. but all the cedar I have used is soft. scratches and such. I do love how cedar holds up to the weather though. maybe, you could just try a piece and see if it could hold up to what you wont it for. but as far a fire wood, no way. it is really pretty wood. you can do tons of things with it out side of furniture if you wish too. even furniture. there is many ways to support screws, nails, etc that will hold tight. that would be my only worry. just a guess.

-- If you don't learn from the past, your doomed to repeat it.

View 's profile

593 posts in 3843 days

#2 posted 07-24-2009 05:38 AM

Don’t let them discourage you iozl.

The original name for what you call Japanese cedar in the West is ”sugi” ( if your computer can display japanese characters). ”Sugi” has been the prime material for building high end furniture in Japan for centuries. It has one of the best smells of any wood I’ve ever smelt and it has natural properties that prevent its decay.

Although it is light and soft you can see plenty of examples of its use if you search for either the keywords “sugi kagu” or, even better, “sugi tansu” in Google Images. Most of them have survived a few centuries in one of the most humid and wood-unfriendliest climate you can find.

Good luck and don’t forget to show us the final result of your efforts.

View iozl's profile


50 posts in 3671 days

#3 posted 07-24-2009 04:50 PM

Thank you so much Jojo & Evie! I didn’t know that this was the same species that was used extensively in tansu furniture. While I don’t know if I’d tackle a project as ambitious as tansu, it’s great information to know that one can work with it for projects both indoors and out.
The smaller of the two trees was cut down yesterday, and I noticed that it has fairly dark heartwood (much darker than in wester red cedar), while the sapwood is very light.
The larger tree is coming down today, and I’ll be transporting it all to a local urban harvester tomorrow to be milled into 8/4 & 5/4 stock.
Thanks again, especially for the encouragement! I will perhaps try to post some pictures of the logs in a blog format.

View Mike's profile


391 posts in 3488 days

#4 posted 07-25-2009 12:00 PM

I have an Eastern Cedar board with a lot of voids and holes.

About 6 ft tall by 3/4 thick by 5 1/2 wide. I am going to make a sort of Green and Green style Japanese latern for my front yard post light.

Can’t do a lot more with the board maybe a box.

I am stating it today.

-- Measure once cut twice....oh wait....ooops.

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