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DocBlake

Alaskan Yellow Cedar

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I currently offer milled sheets and strips at Syren.  I dont know many other who do.  But most exotic lumber places stock it in larger billets.  The Medway longboat posted below is made entirely from AYC except for the molding strip which is boxwood.sizecomparison.jpg

 

https://www.syrenshipmodelcompany.com/milled-lumber.php#!/Alaskan-Yellow-Cedar-Ship-Model-Wood-from-the-Syren-Woodshed/c/28580529/offset=0&sort=normal

 

 

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I got some AYC from Chuck and I am using it on a new model and I love the stuff.  In my case the model is of a 1890 era canal boat primarily made of White Oak for which I am using Birch - dead ringer at 1/2" = 1' To White Oak.  There is also a lot of Yellow Pine used on the boat and the AYC looks perfect in place of Yellow Pine on this model.

I was very impressed with the ease of using the AYC as it cuts great on either my Preac or Bynes saws and finishes nicely.  I bought a couple of sheets from Chuck and after actually using a bit of it ordered a bunch more - it will be stocked in my shop going forward.

And as usual Chuck delivered it quickly and well packeaged.

Kurt

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It may bear noting that Alaska yellow cedar is one of those wood species that is known by many different non-scientific names. Thus, sourcing is outside of its range may be made more difficult if you don't ask for it by the right name. First off, it's not a cedar at all, but rather a cypress. It's known as Nootka cypress, yellow cypress, Alaska cypress, Pacific Coast cedar, Nootka cedar, yellow cedar, Alaska cedar, and Alaska yellow cedar. If you are googling for it, you might try some of its other commercial names, although it is most popularly called Alaska yellow cedar.

 

Unfortunately, AYC is becoming harder to source for a variety of reasons. 1) Most of it that's commercially logged is sold locally in the Pacific Northwest, where it is still readily available. 2) It's often found in areas which are difficult (i.e. expensive) to access for logging operations. 3) It's dying off throughout much of its range due to climate change and is being considered for classification as endangered. 4) Asian demand for AYC for fine woodwork sends a lot of it off as export. 5) AYC plantation forestry has only just begun to be studied and it more of a challenge than commercial cultivation of other lumber species. 6) AYC is very slow-growing, with a lifespan of well over a thousand years.

 

It is the winter snowpack that insulates the shallow and fine root systems of AYC trees from freezing. With the snow pack becoming thinner each year, the tree roots are more exposed to cold snaps which freeze their fine root systems close to the surface and kill the trees. Photos of large stands of dead AYC would make you cry, but the good news is that the dead timber is as good for lumber as the fresh for at least 90 years, and perhaps more even. Again, AYC's growing terrain makes commercial harvesting less attractive than more accessible lumber species.

 

Yellow-cedar_range_and_decline_map.jpg

 

The good news is that while it is considered somewhat rare outside of its natural range, there is plenty of it available in the Pacific Northwest lumberyards. The bad news is that it will cost to ship it elsewhere. I've worked with AYC planking and decking wooden boats and I'm sad to say the offcuts went into the yard dumpster or home for the fireplace. (It's also one of the best fire woods known.) I wish I'd taken more of it for my own "lumberyard" than I did when I had the chance. 

 

alaska-yellow-cedar-Jim-and-Brad-1.jpg

 

http://patlbr.com/cedar/

 

 

 

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Interesting map.  I note from a local standpoint that there's a "pocket" at the Oregon/California border that looks very close to home.   The terrain down here where much of the commercial lumbering happens (or has happened) is usually pretty mountainous so the timber folks would be used to the problems.  Maybe I should check with a friend who does firewood commercially and see if he's seen it?

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Mark,

While you are at it, there is another strictly "local" species to investigate =  Madrone.

It - when seasoned correctly - sounds near perfect for our use.  It is supposedly like, but superior to, Pear.

Reading on the sites of the area mills that sell it - but only to walk in trade -  it is a bear to season correctly.

Apparently some have developed  a way to effectively kiln dry it.

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Bob Thank you for your explanation of the AYC it clarified a question that has been on my mind for some time. The model of Skipjack that I am building which was one of the launches built for Andrew Mellon in 1909 was planked in "Yellow Cyprus" now that mystery is solved. I shall have to check for some local AYC suppliers.

 

Michael

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Thank you for the detailed information, Bob. Certainly it is nice to carve (I've used it for half hulls), but the fine dust produced when sawing or sanding is a serious issue to control. One person I know has become allergic to yellow cedar.

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11 hours ago, Jaager said:

Mark,

While you are at it, there is another strictly "local" species to investigate =  Madrone.

It - when seasoned correctly - sounds near perfect for our use.  It is supposedly like, but superior to, Pear.

Reading on the sites of the area mills that sell it - but only to walk in trade -  it is a bear to season correctly.

Apparently some have developed  a way to effectively kiln dry it.

 

I had some madrone and I agree, it's a bear to season without checking, cracking, etc.  The few pieces I managed where beautiful to work with.  

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Posted (edited)

Mark,


Sustainable Northwest Wood
2701 SE 14th Ave, Portland, OR 97202

 

They have 4x4 and 8x4 Madrone lumber - they anywhere near you?

 

By the way, I left a price quote inquiry for AYC with a lumber yard on your side of the continent, no joy today

maybe the holiday?

 

Edited by Jaager

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I am curious....I have a cabin in northern michigan with a lot of cedar trees. While this is not AYC, might it be a good wood to try? There are many dead, but still standing, trees I could readily harvest.

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From the database:

 

Workability: Northern White Cedar has good overall working characteristics, and works easily with both hand and machine tools. However, the wood is both soft and weak, giving it poor screw-holding capabilities. Northern White Cedar glues and finishes well.
Perhaps the closest thing to Balsa that the United States has domestically, Northern White Cedar is one of the very lightest and softest of commercially available woods in the country

 

In your place, I would give it a try,  You might be surprised.   As far as how AYC relates to other species that are named Cedar - the answer is probably:

not so much.

 

A relative gave me 3 logs of Aromatic Cedar,  I think I will process them into billets and see what is there.  I gravitate to hard, but I have used Tulip Poplar with success.  I am impressed with how tall, wide and straight this tree grows.

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