Spanish Cedar, or Cedrela odorata, comes from the Meliaceae family of trees and is found primarily in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. There is also decent quality Spanish Cedar wood grown on plantations in Ghana and The Ivory Coast. Like “Red Cedar” and the names of many other lumber species, the term this species is quite misleading. In fact this wood is neither Spanish or a true Cedar. It is considered a hardwood since it is from the Mahogany family, but is actually quite soft. Spanish Cedar has beautiful coloring and very attractive grain that is usually straigh and sometimes wavy.
Why is Spanish Cedar Wood so Highly Prized?
- Workability – Spanish Cedar wood is easy to work with both hand and machine tools. The low density and softness of the wood causes a wooly fuzziness. It is highly recommended to machine it with sharp blades. In order to obtain a smooth finish, extra sanding with finer grits are recommended. Some Cedar boards may contain natural gum pockets which remain wet. These pockets can ooze out causing blades to clog and ultimately bind.
- Stability – This species of Cedar Wood has a low density caused by a slow growth rate. These two characteristics make it not as stable as other types of wood and leads woodworkers to Genuine Mahogany as a substitute. If carefully kiln dried the tendency of warpage and weeping can be avoided.
- Durability – Spanish Cedar wood is a very durable exotic hardwood. It has a high resistance to decay. It’s bitter taste and distinctive odor helps ward off attack from termites. The natural oil content of the wood also gives it outstanding weathering characteristics. These properties are why it used for exterior siding, doors, moulding and millwork.
- Color and Grain – Spanish Cedar heartwood is a relatively uniform and has light pinkish to reddish brown color that tends to darken with age. The wood’s grain patterning and figure is somewhat bland.
Uses For Spanish Cedar Wood
Since Spanish Cedar wood is primarily used for outdoor applications such as entry way doors, exterior trim, moulding and exterior siding. The cigar industry also prizes this wood when making humidors since it supports the cigar aging process. The bitter taste and distinctive odor detours tobacco worms. It has a high humidity absorbency rate and a positive effect on the flavor of tobacco. Besides use for tobaccos storage containers it is used for fine furniture and musical instruments.
Working with Spanish Cedar Wood
Spanish Cedar machines well. Sharp blades are recommended in order to avoid any fuzziness. The wood sands very well, but powered sanders tend to remove softer material quickly. Hand sanding produces a medium to high luster. The wood nails easily and holds glue well. Drilling pilot holes is strongly recommended before screwing. Staining and polishing can be difficult due to presence of gum, but a good finish is obtainable with suitable filling.
Who Sells Spanish Cedar Wood?
We’re glad you asked that! Spanish Cedar is listed as a CITES appendix II species due to its increasing popularity combined with its slow growth rate. Although its availability is still high, the quality from many lumber dealers is decreasing. We harvest, mill, dry, and ship the finest quality Spanish Cedar wood possible from the island of Trinidad. We carry both 4/4 and 8/4 stock in a variety of widths and length. All of our material has been approved to be imported by the USDA. Click here to view pricing and availability!