Physical and mechanical properties of cedar

Cedar is a type of heartwood with resin canals. Its physical properties and strength resemble those of a pine tree. Cedar has light, soft and easily-treated wood. It is widely spread in Western Siberia and to the north of the Urals up to the Timan Ridge. In Central Altai the upper bound of cedar trees lies on the height of 1900-2000m above sea level, while in the southern regions it reaches the height of 2400m. Siberian cedar also grows on the territory of Mongolia and Northern China. It can also be found in Sikhote-Alin mountains along with a Korean cedar. Siberian cedar has always been admired and venerated for its the greatness of its mighty trunk, voluminous crown and mysterious twilight in its groves. The first examples of cedar trees in the European part of Russia date back to the second half of the 16th century.


The wood of all types of genuine cedar is similar in colour. Light-brown and yellow-brown core, which under atmospheric conditions turns to even brown, differs from the narrow, whitish colouring of sapwood. The wood is resinous and oleiferous, with a strong cedar smell. Growth layers are very distinct due to the contrast between areas of early and late wood. Texture is of medium size. It is representative of genuine cedars to have pockets (in-growths) of bark in the wood. The average density of all sorts of cedar wood is around 580 kg/m³ in dry condition.


In strength cedar is equal to steel, but it by far surpasses it in heat-insulating qualities and natural resistance to changes in weather conditions, temperature, corrosion and chemicals. Together these qualities make cedar a highly valuable and undemanding construction material.

Technical properties

Despite the fact that cedar can match steel in strength, it is also easily treated and processed, with virtually no influence on cutting edges of tools. It produces a smooth, slightly oleiferous finishing surface. It is possible to attain a high quality finishing, although some difficulties may occur due to small branches and ingrown bark. Cedar wood easily absorbs paint and varnish and is excellent for working with nails.

Studies have shown that cedar possesses high mechanical, ecological and aesthetic qualities in comparison to other types of wood.

One of its most distinguishable qualities that sets it apart from other softwood is a signature delicate woody scent, which reappears in the cedar house and fills the rooms with pleasant and healthy air.

Cedar also exhibits a higher adaptability to temperature changes and weather conditions than a pine tree. It is less dense, it has more liquids. A pine tree, unlike cedar, does not have sedative qualities. At the same time a pine scent is lighter than a balmy cedar fragrance. Continual living in a house made of cedar make cause unpleasant effects on people, who are allergic to strong persistent smells.

Trees that should be used for manufacturing tools and furniture (information from Johanna Paungger and Thomas Poppe’s book)

These trees remain strong and firm, they cannot be corroded; they do not dry out and retain their size and volume. It is essential for joining edges of boards that are used for floors and tables. This quality can be achieved if the tree is cut on the days of Aquarius or Pisces during the first eight days after the full moon in December.

Those trees that will be used for working instruments and tools (axe handles, gripes) must be firm, not slippery or light. If the trees are used for manufacturing furniture, wardrobes, cases, trunks and so on, then they are called ornamental.

When the new moon arises on a day of Scorpio, which usually happens in November, then the tree cut at that time can be used both for tools and furniture. In any case, it must be immediately stripped of its bark: for a bark beetle, a tree that was felled in Scorpio or stricken by a lightning is a signal for attack.

These trees can also be felled on February 26, when this day coincides with a receding moon (which does not always happen), especially when the moon simultaneously transitions through Cancer.

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