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Is red cedar or hemlock better for saunas?



Posted on February 26 2024

Your Guide to Western Red Cedar: The Species, Qualities & Uses

Western red cedar is a majestic and versatile tree species that holds a special place in the hearts of many outdoor enthusiasts, architects, and craftsmen. Known for its exceptional qualities and wide range of uses, this iconic tree has been cherished for centuries by indigenous communities and modern-day builders alike. In this guide, we'll explore the species, qualities, and uses of Western red cedar, shedding light on why it continues to be a top choice for various applications.

Western red cedar, also known as Pacific red cedar or giant arborvitae, is a large coniferous tree native to the western part of North America. It can be found in abundance along the coastal regions of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California. The tree can grow to impressive heights, often reaching 200 feet or more, with a trunk diameter of 10 feet or greater. Its distinctive scale-like foliage and reddish-brown bark make it easily recognizable in its natural habitat.

Western red cedar is renowned for its exceptional natural properties, making it a highly sought-after material for various applications. Some of its key qualities include:

1. Durability: Western red cedar is naturally resistant to decay, rot, and insect damage, making it an ideal choice for outdoor construction projects such as decking, fencing, and siding.
2. Aesthetic Appeal: The wood of Western red cedar boasts a rich range of colors, from light straw to deep reddish-brown, with prominent grain patterns that add character and beauty to any finished product.
3. Aroma: The distinctive aroma of Western red cedar is often described as warm, spicy, and aromatic, adding a sensory dimension to its appeal.
4. Workability:The wood is lightweight, easy to work with, and has excellent dimensional stability, allowing for precision crafting and seamless installation.

The versatility of Western red cedar lends itself to a wide array of applications across different industries. Some of the most common uses include:

1. Exterior Construction:Due to its natural resistance to moisture and decay, Western red cedar is a popular choice for outdoor construction projects such as decking, siding, shingles, and fencing. Its ability to withstand harsh weather conditions makes it a durable and reliable option for exterior applications.

2. Indoor Millwork:The aesthetic appeal and workability of Western red cedar make it a favored material for interior millwork, including paneling, trim, moldings, and cabinetry. Its natural beauty adds warmth and character to interior spaces.

3. Outdoor Furniture: The durability and natural resistance of Western red cedar make it an excellent choice for crafting outdoor furniture such as chairs, tables, benches, and pergolas. Its lightweight nature also makes it easy to move and rearrange as needed.

4. Saunas and Hot Tubs: The aromatic properties of Western red cedar make it an ideal choice for constructing saunas and hot tubs. Its natural resistance to decay and ability to withstand high humidity levels make it a perfect fit for these applications.

5. Craftsmanship: Woodworkers and artisans prize Western red cedar for its workability and aesthetic appeal, using it to create a wide range of handcrafted items such as carvings, sculptures, and decorative pieces.

In addition to its remarkable qualities and uses, Western red cedar is also celebrated for its sustainability. The species has long been managed and harvested in a responsible manner by indigenous communities and forestry professionals. Sustainable forestry practices ensure the long-term health and abundance of Western red cedar forests, making it an environmentally friendly choice for conscientious consumers.

Western red cedar stands as a testament to the enduring allure of natural materials. Its remarkable qualities, wide-ranging uses, and sustainable nature make it a highly valued resource in the world of construction, design, and craftsmanship. Whether used in outdoor projects to withstand the elements or in indoor settings to add warmth and beauty, Western red cedar continues to captivate with its timeless appeal. As we look to the future, this iconic species will undoubtedly remain a cornerstone of sustainable and versatile material choices for generations to come.

Western Hemlock - Tree Identification, Properties & Uses

Western hemlock, scientifically known as Tsuga heterophylla, is a large evergreen coniferous tree native to the west coast of North America. It is one of the most important and valuable timber species in the Pacific Northwest. In this blog post, we will explore the identification, properties, and uses of the Western hemlock tree.

The wood of the Western hemlock tree is light in weight, with a pale yellow to light brown color. It has a straight grain and a fine, uniform texture. The wood is relatively soft and easy to work with, making it popular for a variety of woodworking applications. It is also known for its stability and resistance to warping and shrinking, making it an ideal choice for construction and building projects.

Western hemlock wood is highly versatile and is used in a wide range of applications. It is commonly used for construction lumber, plywood, and veneer. Its straight grain and fine texture make it suitable for finishing and millwork. The wood is also used for pulp and paper production, as well as for manufacturing boxes and crates. Additionally, Western hemlock is valued for its use in landscaping and reforestation projects.

In addition to its commercial uses, Western hemlock has cultural significance for indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest. The tree has been traditionally used for making canoes, baskets, and other traditional crafts. Its bark has also been used for weaving and making clothing.

While Western hemlock is a valuable and widely used tree species, it is important to consider its conservation and sustainable management. Sustainable forestry practices, including reforestation and responsible harvesting, are essential to ensure the long-term viability of Western hemlock forests. Conservation efforts also play a crucial role in protecting the habitat of wildlife species that depend on Western hemlock forests for their survival.

In conclusion, Western hemlock is a significant tree species with valuable properties and a wide range of uses. Its strong and versatile wood makes it an important resource for the timber industry, while its cultural and ecological significance adds to its value. By understanding and appreciating the identification, properties, and uses of Western hemlock, we can work towards sustainable management and conservation of this important tree species.

Hemlock and Cedar both have their advantages for use in saunas. Hemlock is cost-effective, has a lighter color with refined texture, and has little to no aroma, making it a good option for folks with allergies. Conversely, Cedar has a pleasant scent and natural oils that resist mold and mildew, making it more durable.



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