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spanish cedar is more durable than red wood or western red cedar
Spanish Cedar

Botanical Name: Cedrela odorata

The famous Spanish Cedar, a timber of great commercial interest for over 200 years. This wood is currently in abundant supply and well priced. Call our office for a current quote.

The species is a strong light demander and is reported to appear frequently as a fast growing pioneer species in secondary forests. It is often protected, and is seen growing in cultivated fields, orchards and plantations, and sometimes as a shade tree for coffee plants.

The sapwood is pale in color and is not sharply demarcated from the heartwood. Heartwood Color The heartwood usually ranges from pale pinkish-brown to dark reddish-brown in color, and darkens upon exposure. Timber from younger or fast-grown trees is reported to be generally paler in color.

The grain is straight or shallowly interlocked. Texture The wood has moderately coarse texture. Odor Natural oil in the wood gives off a distinctive fragrant scent. Natural Durability The heartwood is reported to have high natural resistant to decay. The sapwood is liable to attack by powder-post beetles.

Our plantation spanish cedar is often figured

I have seen Spanish Cedar hold up incredibly well.
I remember a house on Ambergris Cay in Belize that used Spanish Cedar for siding. After 20 years of that intense sun and sea exposure that wood looked incredible. Granted it was bleached a regal silver gray, but no paint, no oil no finish of any kind and still stable and intact.
What a wonderful wood to use as a mahogany substitute also. I remember a house in Miami that had elaborate Honduras Mahogany arched ceilings with elegant Spanish Cedar exterior patio ceilings and fascia. This of course had very little weather and sun exposure except for the splash of sun rays periodically bouncing off the pool. It was so well finished it was difficult to tell it from Mahogany at that distance.
I often thought Spanish Cedar would make a decking wood that would rival the best of the Californian Red Wood, which is nearly impossible to acquire these days. Why do I say this, because Spanish Cedar has been used for many years as shakes for roofing material, so we know it is incredibly durable and strong.


Common Uses

Boat building
Cigar boxes
Decorative plywood
Decorative veneer
Interior trim
Light construction
Musical instruments
Bedroom suites
Building construction
Building materials
Concealed parts (Furniture)
Dining-room furniture
Dowel pins
Drawer sides
Drum sticks
Figured veneer
Fine furniture
Floor lamps
Furniture components
Furniture squares or stock
Interior construction
Kitchen cabinets
Living-room suites
Office furniture
Organ pipes
Piano keys
Radio, stereo, TV cabinets
Rustic furniture
Sounding boards
Utility furniture
Violin bows


The grain is straight or shallowly interlocked.

The wood has moderately coarse texture.

The wood varies from lustrous to highly lustrous.

Natural oil in the wood gives off a distinctive fragrant scent.

The timber is reported to be dimensionally stable, and holds its shape very well after seasoning.

The heartwood is reported to have high natural resistant to decay. The sapwood is liable to attack by powder-post beetles. The wood is reported to be highly resistant to termites in the West Indies, and moderately resistant in West Africa.

Timber produced by most species in the genus Cedrela are reported to contain volatile oils which tend to limit their use for certain applications, such as clock cases. Timber from young or fast-grown trees is reported to be generally less resinous than that from mature or more slowly-grown trees.

Sawdust from machining operations has been associated with nose and throat irritation in some individuals.

The timber responds satisfactorily to cross-cutting and bandsawing.

The wood exerts slight blunting effect on cutters.

A good finish can be obtained in planing if cutting angles are reduced to 20 degrees.

Turning characteristics are reported to be good.

The wood is reported to have excellent moulding qualities. A French head is reported to produce the most satisfactory moulding results.

The wood is characteristically difficult to bore.

The wood responds readily to routing.

The wood has exceptional mortising properties.

The wood carves rather easily.

The wood glues well, although some prior surface preparation may be required.

The wood has satisfactory to excellent nailing characteristics.

The wood has excellent screwing characteristics.

Polishing properties are reported to be very good.

The wood has good staining characteristics.

The wood has excellent painting characteristics.

The wood responds well to hand tools.

Strength Properties
The bending strength of the species is considered medium, being much weaker than White oak or Teak in the air-dry condition (about 12 percent moisture content). It is weak in compression parallel to grain (maximum crushing strength), and is inferior to Mahogany. Surfaces may dent or scratch easily since the wood is soft. Weight and density are about average.
Strength properties are reported to be generally high, relative to weight.

Reference Sources
Numerical Data Source
Bodig, J. and B. A. Jayne. 1982. Mechanics of Wood and Wood Composites. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York.

Lauricio, F. M., Bellosillo, S. B. 1966. The Mechanical and Related Properties of Philippine Woods, The Lumberman, 12(5):A-H.

Descriptive Data Source
HMSO. 1981. Handbook of Hardwoods, 2nd Edition. Revised by R. H. Farmer. Department of the Environment, Building Research Establishment, Princes Risborough Laboratory, Princes Risborough, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Keating, W.G. and E. Bolza. 1982. Characteristics, Properties and Uses of Timbers, Volume 1 - South-east Asia, Northern Australia and the Pacific, Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas.

Keay, R.W.J. 1989. Trees of Nigeria. Revised Version of Nigerian Trees. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Williams, L. 1936. Woods of Northeastern Peru. Field Museum of Natural History, Botanical Series, Volume XV, Publication 377, Chicago.

Forest Trust - Goodwood. 1993. Personal Communication.

Perpetua Hardwoods. Sea Star Trading Co. - Purveyors of Fine Wood. Newport, Oregon. Personal Communication, 1993.

Chichignoud, M., G. Deon, P. Detienne, B. Parant and P. Vantomme. 1990. Tropical Timber Atlas of Latin America. International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Division of CIRAD, 45 bis Avenue de la Belle Gabrielle, Nogent-sur-Marne, CEDEX, France.

WCMC. 1992. Conservation Status Listing - Trees and Timbers of the World. World Conservation Monitoring Center - Plants Programme, Cambridge, CB3 ODL, United Kingdom.

Boone, R.S., C.J. Kozlik, P.J. Bois, E.M. Wengert. 1988. Dry Kiln Schedules for Commercial Hardwoods - Temperate and Tropical. USDA, Forest Service, General Technical Report FPL-GTR-57, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin.