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Thread: Wisconsin Red Cedar

  1. #1
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    Default Wisconsin Red Cedar

    I have an opportunity to buy some Wisconsin red cedar (rough sawn). I would use it to plank a small boat using a bead and cove method, epoxy and glass coated. My experience (limited with woods) is that the cedar in Wisconsin has a very twisted grain. The drive to look at it is a long one and I don't want to waste the owners time or mine if there is no chance of using it. Anyone had experience using red cedar grown in Wisconsin or other parts of the Midwest? All comments appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    If it's got a lot of twist it will break when you bend or especially when you bend and twist it onto the forms.

    If you're building a pram, where there is a lot less twist, you may be able to get away with it.

    Does Northern White Cedar grow up your way? It would have straight grain.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    Grain straightness doesn't really matter all that much for wood strip/fiberglass construction. The wood is basically just a core holding the load bearing glass layers apart. About the only problem with grain runout would be strips located in areas where there is a lot of twist going on due to the hull's shape. Some designs have some, others have nearly none, and even on those which do have a fair amount of twist in places, you can usually pick through them and pick the best of the bunch for those spots. Has this wood been dried?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    Two or three years ago I 'stumbled' upon several hundred - maybe thousands - of board feet of red cedar felled then rough sawn locally here in west central Wisconsin. It's probably still sticker-stacked in what used to be a lumber yard about 7 miles north of me, the adjacent office is an antique shop only open on certain days of the week.

    I'm ~ 30 miles south of La Crosse along US 14, that cedar may still be where I saw it up in Westby.... Where're you coming from?

    I was Christmas shopping at the time. It was quite cold in that unheated shed. I didn't have a flashlight with me to take a closer look at that stuff. Struck me that it might be what we'd call 'aromatic' cedar, what you'd use to make a cedar chest or maybe line a cedar closet or sauna? This area was settled by Norwegians after all....

    My takeaway was that it'd be oily wood, likely knotty enough to make milling frustrating. The smell was pretty intense back among the stickered stacks even after the stuff'd been there for what looked like years (from the layer of dust on the tops) and in that day's cold air.

    There are epoxies that'll work on woods like these. Whether the knots'd be far enough apart on what straight-enough grained stock there is among those planks'd be the bigger question needs answering.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    Gib, thanks for the comments. I believe Northern White Cedar grows east of Wisconsin but it would be an option. I do fear the twist, I am thinking of building an Adirondack Guide Boat.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by cut3times View Post
    Gib, thanks for the comments. I believe Northern White Cedar grows east of Wisconsin....
    Hardware / ag store I work at gets white cedar fence posts from up north in WI I believe. I've wondered whether some of those 7-8" dia. posts could be sawn into decent enough stock for boatwork. Some aren't as knotty as others but the checking might be a bigger issue. They're debarked then rough-milled round when freshly felled.

    Sent you a PM...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    Todd, many thanks I have not looked carefully at the amount of twist the hull will require. This is a project I have been attempting to launch for three years (life gets in the way). I just learned about this wood yesterday and I have no idea if it is seasoned or not. My DNR friend told me about it so I am unclear about the location or its condition.

    Sp Clark, for some reason I am having a problem using the private message to reply to you. Very generous offer on your part. I think I need to try to learn more about the wood and location and I will get back to you.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    Of course you know that a big advantage of this construction is that perfect wood is not mandatory.
    Also, when building, or thinking of the strips going on, consider leaving the outer stem, or stem cap off, until after the boat is planked. Thus, have the ability to run the planking out beyond the boat, if needed WAY out! Not having to cut them to length needed to go inside of a rabbit.It makes bending and twisting much easier...on wood and man.
    that make sense?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by cut3times View Post
    Sp Clark, for some reason I am having a problem using the private message to reply to you. Very generous offer on your part. I think I need to try to learn more about the wood and location and I will get back to you.
    Just stopped at that shop. It’s still there but all that cedar’s gone save for these two planks:
    ECAF4B8C-ECEF-4A03-8986-DC68D2ED9BB0.jpg
    ... each priced @ $100. Kinda stiff but not something I’d be interested in.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    You should be able to get nice full length clear material from 2x12 framing lumber. Spruce is probably available where you live.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post
    You should be able to get nice full length clear material from 2x12 framing lumber. Spruce is probably available where you live.
    Gib's got a point - last month I spied these in the rack in our 'yard where I work -

    SS_DF.jpg

    14' nominal 2x10's, Select Structural DF (I believe) at a 'reasonable' price given what framing lumber's going for these days.

    That reminds me... cut3times lives a few miles from where I sourced some sweet 5/4 Sitka spruce late in 2018. Place is on t'other side of L. Mendota: McCormick Lumber & Cabinetry Inc.

    Wasn't priced like the Sitka I bought in a yard back about 1985 in Elgin IL but then nothing much else is these days.

    Out of idle curiosity, whose plans are you using for your build c3t?
    Last edited by sp_clark; 09-20-2020 at 04:26 PM. Reason: added image and a question

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    I'm going to use Building an Adirondack Guideboat by Olivette and Michne as my guide for building. I have not been to McCormick in several years, I will be checking them out. They did have beautiful Sitka but it was very expensive. I have competed the forms for the ribs and I have ash for the material. Pricing for the ash was funny, it was less expensive in Madison that it was in Green Bay.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    You mention an Adirondack and I think it would be a whole lot more fun to use clear, straight pine and not have to worry about how the oils will glue, twisted grain, etc. I don't know where you are in Wisconsin, and I don't know if they still have the same stock, but I bought a bunch of beautiful white clear pine that had been milled for window sashes, 1 1/8" thick S2S. Rosin Lumber in Bonduel, Wi. They sold it for 2.20 /bf but counted the 1 1/8 as 5/4 so it was a great deal. I think the story was that the local tribe was cutting some of it's land. I can't say it was old growth but i got a bunch of 12' lengths that were absolutely clear & straight except for a very few sap pockets. You know the poem: White pine, cuts like butter wears like iron...

    good luck
    Ken

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Wisconsin Red Cedar

    Thank you Ken, I will check out the lead.

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