Cedar wood

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Egyptian throne portion
MFA 03.1131
Native American rattle
MFA 1989.135


A nonspecific term used for wood from several aromatic evergreen trees. The best known cedar is the Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) which is native to Asia Minor. Cedars are characterized by having an strong smelling volatile oil whose odor persists after the wood is cut and dried. The wood has a fine grain, is a red and yellow in color and takes a beautiful polish. Cedar is durable and very resistant to insects and rotting. It is used for construction, cabinetry, interior trim, closets, and chest. Cedar shavings were once used as a repellent for (clothes moths) and (carpet beetles), but were not very effective. Other true species of cedar are Atlas cedar (C. atlantica), Cyprus cedar (C. brevifolia), and deodar (C. deodara).

Cedar of Lebanon

Other CAMEO entries include:

Alaska cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis)

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Western red cedar (Thuja plicata)

Honduras cedar (Cedrala mexicana)

Incense cedar (Librocedrus decurrens; Calocedrus decurrens)

Port Orford cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)

Synonyms and Related Terms

juniper; cedarwood; cedar chips; cedar shavings; Cedrus libani; cèdre (Fr.); Zedar (Deut.);cedro (It., Port., Esp.) ; sedar

Personal Risks

Inhalation of dust may cause asthma. Skin contact may cause irritation. Toxic by ingestion.

Collection Risks

Links to Oddy Test results posted on AIC Wiki Materials Database Pages for individual materials below

° Cedar, sample from old seasoned shelving plank Tested in 2016

Physical and Chemical Properties

Wood density = 23-35 ppcf

Paper fiber type: Softwood. Using transmitted light microscopy, fibers appear wide and thin-walled, with small taxodiod ray parenchyma pits. Appearance with Graff "C" stain: varies with pulping and bleaching. Average dimensions of fibers: length 3.5mm; width 30-40μm. Common pulping method: sulfite or kraft.

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • Alden Identification Services, Microscopic Wood Identification: Link
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 165
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965 Comment: 23-33 ppcf
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=30-35 ppcf (0.49-0.57 g/cm3)
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998