Notes on Alaskan Yellow Cedar




I just sliced open this piece of Alaskan Yellow Cedar that’s been kicking around my studio for a few decades.  The color is a rich fabulous yellow.  This slice came from a couple of air dried boards given to me by an Astoria boat builder who thought I would enjoy working such a wonderful material.  I was so excited that I brought them home and stood them in the living room for a better look at what their use might be.  One thing to know about Yellow Cedars – actually they are Cypresses – is that they are odorific.  A sharp tangy medicinal sort of smell.  Alaskan Yellow Cedar is a bit mellower than our Oregon cousin cypress, Port Orford Cedar, but it makes up for it in strength.  Long story short, my wife politely asked me to remove the wood from the house and put it where it belonged, which was my studio.  Funny thing, now that I have a studiomate, he can’t stand the smell either.  The studio can get pretty scented up when you sand and it gets collected up by the dust collection system which just aids in disseminating the wonderful odor.  I love the smell, but try to work the material when Karl is not there.  It only really smells when it is freshly cut.  It goes away after the surface oxides.  When I am carving this amazing butter-like wood and the smell is wafting up as the shavings fall, I thank that boat builder for introducing me to one of my favorite woods.

Leave a Reply