May 1, 2021

Carving Cedar | The Authoritative Guide with Videos

Carving cedar does not have to be complicated. Cedar is a type of wood found in various areas such as Cyprus and Morocco. It is also known in the upper regions of the western Himalayas. This wood is coniferous by nature which means that experts define it as a softwood.

Another characteristic of this product is the structural preservation of its cones and needles. The family to which this tree belongs is the genus Cedrus and Pinaceae. It has received this name because it can grow only in exceptionally high altitudes.

This is not a unique wood, but is under an umbrella of different species. You will find that there are over 15 different variations of cedar DNA. The main differences between all these variations of the genetics of this species of wood are the color, hardness and the time when the wood begins to mold.

What is expected, however, is the height at which they grow. You will find that anything above 1000 meters is sufficient for this tree. It is not one of the most spreading trees, of course, but it can reach a length of over 35 meters in height. Its bark is relatively thicker than other trees and it has well-structured and extensive branches.


You will find that this is an excellent choice for families looking for wood that behaves as a natural moth repellent. This is one of the main properties that has generated a lot of hype for this wood. It is therefore prevalent in many homes forming cabinets and closets.

It is a durable type of wood that can maintain complete integrity when put under pressure. This makes it highly stable. Highly stable wooden materials are helpful when building clad roofs because they can protect them from any weather that threatens to come out of control.

The color is often what is the most eye-catching about this wood. They have a beautiful natural dark brown color that blends in very nicely with the level of grain the wood has.

Apart from being beautiful, it is also a wood that can withstand the pressures of warping and cracking. You will find that warping and cracking are widespread occurrences in wooden musical instruments. It can survive specific vibrations, thereby producing the required sounds to grace people’s ears.

What type of wood is it?

Cedar has become very popular worldwide among people that enjoy carving wood, and this is because it comes with a lovely and orthopedic sweet smell. When you begin cutting this wood, you will find that it can last a very long time because of its natural ability to resist decay.

Therefore, many people use it on indoor structures because it is unlikely to splinter easily or form mold. It is also essential to consider how rainy the weather you expect to leave the sculpture after being carved.

Although you will most likely note that this type of wood is resistant to rot, that does not automatically mean it is waterproof. The reason why this wood is not 100% waterproof is that it fails to absorb water.

This is because it has a poor dimensional cell structure that leaves little airspace to drink water. It will therefore expand whenever it meets moisturized areas. As you place this item in the sun, it will then begin to shrink again. Consequently, it is always best when using this material only to build indoor structures.

Things to carve out of Cedarwood.


Statues are a great option to consider if you are a beginner looking to carve out some wood. You can easily decorate the wood with different paints and stains. This is because the wood grain can enhance the color that you can put on this object.

Many people have turned to carve out statues out of Cedarwood to generate a living. It is a softwood that is not likely to produce an entire large amount of fuzz and splinters. Any children who want to work on a project like this will start with this idea because they only need fundamental carving tools.

Cups and bowls

Carving out cups and bowls out of this wood is particularly good because of the wooden grain aesthetic. You will be able to vanish these and use them within your kitchen entirely. If you have any young children in the home who are starting their carving journey, then this can be an excellent option for them to make their utensils to play with.

It might be true that specific different types of Cedarwood are pretty brittle, thereby making it likely to shrink over time; however, they will still maintain their artistic integrity in this state.

Tips for Carving Cedar Wood

Consistent cuts

When you are cutting this type of wood, you must continue to cut until you have reached the end of the object. Making minor inconsistent stop-start cuts will only work to damage the entire block of wood.

Making consistent cuts will allow you to maintain the integrity of the texture of the wood. To do so, you’ll have to ensure that you have sharp tools that can slice through wood delicately without leaving the wood torn.


Like with every habit, it is essential that you practice first before you begin any professional job. If you are still new to the aspect of carving wood, then you should save your best wood for later. This wood can be a bit pricier than most woods; therefore, you must begin practicing with a cheaper option. Once you are ready, then you will be able to correctly maneuver your tools and avoid just gouging into the wood as you see fit.

White Cedar

The Eastern White Cedar – Thuja occidentalis – is native to Canada, the United States, Northern Mexico, and the Bahamas. Native Americans used it for wigwams, totem poles, and other religious purposes. The American Indians also made spoons for eating corn soup from this wood.

The Eastern White Cedar can be used virtually to use a cedar of any kind. The Eastern White Cedar is associated with fertility because it grows in soil infertility areas.

Yellow Cedar

Yellow Cedar – Chamaecyparis pisifera – is native to the Eastern United States, western Canada, and the west coast of Mexico. The yellow cedar is used in commerce for the creation of fences and flooring.

Often it is used in the eastern portion of the United States for deer fence posts as its scent repels bucks. This wood has a sweet scent, especially after it has been worked with wet sawdust or varnish.

Spanish Cedar

Spanish Cedar – Cedrela odorata is native to the West Indies, Central America, and South America. It is not a true cedar but is placed in the same family. Spanish Cedar is the heartwood of this tree, and it has been used for furniture for centuries.

The wood from this tree has a nice aroma that lasts for a very long time. This cedar has been used for wardrobes of clothing chests and other unique artifacts since ancient times.

Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar – Thuja Plicata – is native to the northwestern United States and Canada. It is a popular wood used by arborists. It is used for siding because of its resistance to decay, insects, and rot.

Western Red Cedar was also historically used for fence posts and railroad ties in the Pacific Northwest of the United States; however, various laws have since been passed restricting its use in these ways due to the tree’s threatened or endangered species status in some areas.

Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern Red Cedar – Juniperus virginiana – is native to the eastern United States and Canada. Eastern Red Cedar is very similar to Western Red Cedar, but it has a light reddish color. Eastern Red Cedar was used to create fence posts, siding, barricades, and other obstacles.


The durability of cedar is a result of its ability to inhibit decay. However, the durability of cedar is also determined by the condition in which you stored it. It is unknown if you can find yellow and white cedar in their native form with a high concentration of aromas and oils.

It is important to keep all types of cedar in optimal condition to ensure that it will last as long as possible.

Knives with cedar

Most of the axes and knives made from aromatic cedar are very durable, but they are also easy to handle. Most people agree that knives made from aromatic cedar are better than knives with other types of wood.

Cedar stumps

Cedar stumps are used in the creation of fence posts, furniture, and other items for construction.

Texture of cedar

The texture of cedar is very similar to that of pine.

Cedar and juniper are used as fuel for heating homes and other buildings. These woods are also used for the creation of fence posts and railroad ties in the United States.

This wood is used by commercial and professional arborists, especially when planting large trees like redwoods in hilly terrain. They use it to tie the root ball to the hillside because it will not send out roots into the hill, eventually pulling away from its parent tree.

Aromatic cedar

The aromatic cedar is a small coniferous tree that grows 1.5 meters high and lives for approximately 150 years. It depends on stabilizing its root system, so it requires lots of water and well-drained soil.

The aromatic cedar is rarely found in the wild; however, it is highly prized as an ornamental tree because it has a sweet smell similar to its relative, the red cedar.


Cedarwood is used in the creation of carvings, furniture, and other pieces of woodwork. Carvers like to use cedar because it smells nice and holds an edge well.


Cedarwood is also very hard but not as hard as oak or walnut. This is why carpenters frequently use it for making rifle stocks – since the wood won’t absorb moisture, the rifles tend to be more reliable (and therefore worth more) than when made with other types of wood.

Carving Utensil in cedar

The lighter-colored wood of the aromatic cedar has been used to carve utensils like spoons and bowls. This wood has been used as a component for hot air balloons in more recent times, making these devices even lighter than they already are.

Other plants contain essential oils that, when extracted, are known as cedrol. Cedrol is a mixture of various chemical compounds, including varying cedar oil, germacrene, and cedronellal.

Cedar Good For Spoon Carving

The aromatic cedar is an excellent wood for carving spoons. It has a fairly fine grain, and it holds an edge well. A spoon made from cedar wood is easier to sharpen than spoons made from other types of wood, like oak or walnut.

Eastern White Cedar Tree

Eastern white cedar trees are popular ornamental trees in the eastern United States because they grow quickly and easily.


There are some doubts about the origin of cedar. Two theories say that cedar comes from either the Holy Land or India.


The aromatic cedar is an excellent wood for making boats, but it is not waterproof. If one adds copper to the hull of a boat made with aromatic cedar, the wood will become totally waterproof.

Find out What kind of oil you should put on your wood carving.

The best type of Cedar for carving

Top pick

Eastern Red Cedar

When choosing cedarwood, consider your project and make sure the type of wood you are picking suits its needs. As much as each cedar wood type has its strengths and weaknesses, Eastern Red cedar wood appears to have attractive qualities for carving. 

It is much denser, and that makes it better for carving. It is also much harder than most other Cedar variants, making it a better candidate when creating a detailed carving. It is appealing to the eye due to its red color and makes eye-catching sculptures.


Yellow Cedar

Yellow Red Cedar is a little softer than the other variants and accepts treatments better than others. It is a bit lighter than cedar variants, making it better for lightweight carvings. It makes doors and comes with a yellowish tint.

Eastern White Cedar

Eastern White Cedar is almost white and easy to carve, and it is not very hard and ideal for a medium detailed carving that needs light. It is more affordable than red cedar, although sometimes it varies with your area. 

Cedar wood advantages and disadvantages

Cedar makes nice carvings with only a few types of cedar, like Eastern Red Cedar, Yellow Cedar, and Eastern White Cedar. It is difficult to carve integrated details in cedar. Its loose open grains make it difficult to make a smooth finish. 

Although it is not perfect for carving, it is for some specific projects. These carvings must be resistant to moisture or outdoor projects, such as duck decoys and garden sculptures, must be exposed to the elements. 

As much as it comes with its disadvantages, you can still easily work around the weaknesses. Below are some advantages and disadvantages.


  • Cedar is rot-resistant and moisture-resistant. The cedar oil present in the wood makes it a good insect repellent. For your carving to withstand a lot of moisture or if you have insects in your area that love to eat wood, cedarwood can deal with it.
  • It is for outdoor sculptures since it withstands different weather elements, and its rot and decay resistance makes it a perfect option for outside projects. Extend the life of your cedar wood carving by treating it with some varnish before exposing it to different weather conditions.
  • Cedarwood is very lightweight compared to other types of wood used for carving. Since these are hardwood, they are denser and heavier than cedarwood. It has become possible to use cedarwood for sculptures on outside house walls without falling. Cedarwood does not rot easily outside and is light enough to fix it against the wall.


  • Not all types of cedarwood are for carving, and avoid going to the hardware store and buying just any old cedarwood post for carving. The best types of cedar for carving are Eastern Red Cedar, Yellow Cedar, and Eastern White Cedar.
  • It is very soft compared to other wood types used for carving. Most wood used for carving is hardwood, and using hardwood for carving is easier to control. The amount of material you remove depends on how hard it is. Be more cautious and in control when dealing with cedarwood to remove more material faster than hardwood. There are higher chances of accidentally removing too much material, slipping, or damaging the wood.
  • It is difficult to carve sharp details using cedarwood, and the softness makes it difficult. Avoid thin or integrated areas when carving because they easily break off. Cedarwood is not the best option for a sculpture or relief with lots of intricate detail.

Is cedar wood easy to carve?

Cedar is soft, and that makes it easy to carve. However, it has a certain degree of brittleness, which makes it prone to cracking and tearing. It is not an ideal wood type for highly-intricate designs.

Cedar carves simple designs and requires the use of sharp tools and the application of specialized carving techniques. More practice gives you satisfying results. Your chisels and gouges should be razor-sharp because a dull blade will tear the wood. The cutting edge of your gouge should be free from blemishes. Sharp blades leave your carving with a smooth, shiny surface and finer details. 

Pay attention to the direction of the grain. It comes in a straight line. Moving your blade against the grain’s direction increases the chance of tearing or chipping the wood. Avoid making stop cuts since it crushes and compresses the fibers because of the fibrous texture of cedarwood. Avoid cutting a sharp and detailed carving.

Can you carve red cedar wood?

Eastern Red Cedar is much denser, making it much better for carving. It is also harder than other Cedar variants, making it a better choice among the cedar options for detailed carving. The softwood Cedar can be an excellent choice for sign makers, and artisans easily carve incised letters. Although the wood is soft, do not forget that it is very brittle wood that chips or tears out easily.

Is Cedar good for power carving?

Is cedar good for carving? Cedar is for good power carving, and gives the same results when hand carving. When choosing between the two, consider the type of cedarwood you are working on. Use power tools on hard cedar-like Eastern white cedar and hand tools on soft cedar-like yellow cedar. 

Is Cedar softer than basswood?

Basswood is softer than cedar. Cedar has variations like yellow cedar that are a bit softer than other cedar variants, but they are not as soft as basswood. However, they both fall in the same category of softwoods. 

Is Cedar hard to whittle?

Thinking of cedar carving? Cedar makes good whittling wood because it is soft, and you have minimal grain to deal with. As much as basswood makes a better candidate, you can still take Cedar as an alternative. Make use of woodblocks in sanding your work.

What is the difference between cedar and aromatic cedar?

Red and aromatic cedar are terms that represent two species of trees. They differ slightly in classification, and red cedar represents western red cedar (Thuja plicata) and eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). 

Although these species belong to different genera, they are both members of the plants’ cypress (Cupressaceae) family. Aromatic cedar only represents eastern red cedar and sometimes from a specific region. Red cedar is the tree, while aromatic cedar is the wood of the eastern red cedar used in building projects.c

Is cedar always red?

Most cedar has a pinkish color, but sometimes there are purple tones. With age it loses its reddish color and becomes silver or gray. There are white cedar and red cedar.

What distinguishes the two is what is inside. Cut into these two trees and the color of the wood is different. The Western Red Cedar is red, while the Northern White Cedar has a yellow tint.

David D. Hughes

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