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Discussion Starter #1
Considering using cedar for my framing because it is lightweight, easy to work with and love that smell:D! I have decided not to use 80/20 and I am considering the cedar option. Your thoughts? Also, if I used cedar would I have to seal it with polyurethane or something similar? Thanks!
 

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I used cedar in a shade structure in my back yard. Just for clarity, the wood that is called cedar on the eastern midwest is not the same as the cedar sold on the west coast. The western red cedar is very light but not very strong. I don't know that much about the eastern varieties.

My experience :
- It has a lot of "sand" or something like this in the fibers - so it tends to dull tools quickly vs what you might expect from a soft wood
- It has very little screw holding power or surface strength. For example if you put a screw into it with the head flush, over time the fibers will just move out of the way of the stress points.
- The oils in it are corrosive, so you really can only use stainless steel. Zinc plated and hot dipped galvanized corrode away
- It takes very little to dent / scratch

I am not so sure if you really want to trap that odor in or not. It does smell nice.
 

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I used poplar 1x2 for my cabinet framing: sturdy, relatively lightweight, and dimensionally stable. Kreig joints.

For the walls and ceiling, I used the 1/4" thick cedar tongue & groove 8' slats from Home Depot, coated on both sides with Minwax polyshades. Rafters/studs/ struts were baltic birch. For the cabinet doors, I used Home Depot Cedar fence planks, sanded smooth and poly'd.

As noted, the door planks are easy to dent, or to put a positive spin on it, "distress." Hey, it's a camping van with 65K miles on it!


See FarOutRide.com for lots of info -- Antoine and Isabel made a great site.
 

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I used yellow cedar planking on 2x2 pine studs from Home Depot to do my walls and ceiling, No problem cutting it except for the fact that I used a handsaw and Miter-box. I sealed one side of it with polyurethane to make it easy to clean. Two and a half years later I still smell cedar every time I get in the van. (The first few months the cedar smell is a little too strong)
I used this Instructables blog as a guide.


https://www.instructables.com/id/Cedar-paneling-for-van-interior/
 

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I cut and mill eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) by the pickup truck load. If buying mill run you'll have to deal with a fair amount of splinters, splits and knots. As mentioned, if used extensively the aromatic properties of unfinished eastern red cedar, more so than western cedar (Thuja plicata), can be a bit much for some in an enclosed area. I used a small amount for trim in my van. My cabinet and bed framing were a combination of red oak, bald cypress and southern yellow pine but to each their own.
 

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Depending on if your goal in framing is "size" vs "strength / screw holding power", it might make sense to consider baltic birch.

1/4 - 3/8 inch thick, high quality baltic birch ply can hold a screw better than a 1 inch thick piece of cedar.

Strips of 3/4 x 3/4 inch baltic birch ply, round the corners with a router - make a pretty nice beam.

It's not perfect but it will take a real beating and is easy to finish.
 

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Engineered wood is much stronger per weight than any solid wood I know of, and holds screws far, far better. Marine grade ply probably being the best, but most cabinet-grade ply is great.
Aromatic Cedar, also called Eastern Red Cedar, smells great for a while but needs to be hit with sandpaper after a year or so to get the smell "activated" again. Sealing it with anything will cancel the smell. It's also weak AF for anything structural.
In WW1, when planes were made of wood, they used Spruce because it had the best strength to weight ratio.

If a solid wood "look" is required, use cabinet grade ply cut and laminated to the dimensions you want, and cover it with real wood veneer. https://wisewoodveneer.com/product/peel-stick-veneer-small-wood-veneer-sheets/ You can even get Eastern Cedar.

If I wanted the "smell", I'd just use real cedar oil and spritz it every once in a while. We have a gallon of "natural insect control" spray which is mainly cedar oil, and just a few spritzes in the corners of one room makes the whole house smell like a new cedar wall was installed.
 

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In WW1, when planes were made of wood, they used Spruce because it had the best strength to weight ratio.
Southern Yellow Pines (Shortleaf, Longleaf, Slash, and Loblolly Pine) possess an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. You can find Southern Yellow Pines at many of the big box stores as 2x8, 2x10 and 2x12 marked "SYP". These can be ripped to any dimension needed.

Douglas Fir, available in some regions, is also a good choice.

Sitka Spruce
Average Dried Weight: 27 lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness: 510 lbf
Modulus of Rupture: 10,150 lbf/in2
Elastic Modulus: 1,600,000 lbf/in2
Crushing Strength: 5,550 lbf/in2

Shortleaf Pine (Southern Yellow Pine)
Average Dried Weight: 35 lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness: 690 lbf
Modulus of Rupture: 13,100 lbf/in2
Elastic Modulus: 1,750,000 lbf/in2
Crushing Strength: 7,270 lbf/in2

Douglas Fir
Average Dried Weight: 32 lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness: 620 lbf
Modulus of Rupture: 12,500 lbf/in2
Elastic Modulus: 1,765,000 lbf/in2
Crushing Strength: 6,950 lbf/in2
 

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Southern Yellow Pines (Shortleaf, Longleaf, Slash, and Loblolly Pine) possess an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. You can find Southern Yellow Pines at many of the big box stores as 2x8, 2x10 and 2x12 marked "SYP". These can be ripped to any dimension needed.

Douglas Fir, available in some regions, is also a good choice.

Sitka Spruce
Average Dried Weight: 27 lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness: 510 lbf
Modulus of Rupture: 10,150 lbf/in2
Elastic Modulus: 1,600,000 lbf/in2
Crushing Strength: 5,550 lbf/in2

Shortleaf Pine (Southern Yellow Pine)
Average Dried Weight: 35 lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness: 690 lbf
Modulus of Rupture: 13,100 lbf/in2
Elastic Modulus: 1,750,000 lbf/in2
Crushing Strength: 7,270 lbf/in2

Douglas Fir
Average Dried Weight: 32 lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness: 620 lbf
Modulus of Rupture: 12,500 lbf/in2
Elastic Modulus: 1,765,000 lbf/in2
Crushing Strength: 6,950 lbf/in2
I have been looking at the numbers you have posted and am trying to relate them to the wood we can purchase in a home depot / lowes in this area. (N CA)

Most of the doug fir that we can purchase locally is sold "green" and is super dense unless you can find kiln dried.

I have tried to use it in the past and it just warped like a snake. I have seen kiln dried 2x6 and 2x8 doug fir when visiting family in OH at a HD, but not out here, just 2x4s that you have to sort through to find anything useful.

Even the kiln dried versions of "similarly named woods" that we can purchase here are easily cut through and a screw can be turned in by hand.

Take a look at this baltic birch that I use for projects, which in some ways would indicate lesser specs:

https://www.statesind.com/sites/default/files/sites/default/files/ckeditor/ApplePly_SpecSheet.pdf

I didn't go to this material just for fun - it was because it is the only decent wood that I can consistently count on.

As a comparison, it is so hard that I usually first drill a hole to use a screw in it.

I am trying to relate these spec numbers to my hands on experience and frankly struggling to make sense of it.

BTW - The cedar that you have in the back of your truck looks fantastic. It is a much smaller grain size than the old growth Canadian western red cedar I used. That material looks fantastic.
 

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I have been looking at the numbers you have posted and am trying to relate them to the wood we can purchase in a home depot / lowes in this area. (N CA)

Most of the doug fir that we can purchase locally is sold "green" and is super dense unless you can find kiln dried.

I have tried to use it in the past and it just warped like a snake. I have seen kiln dried 2x6 and 2x8 doug fir when visiting family in OH at a HD, but not out here, just 2x4s that you have to sort through to find anything useful.
If you are getting wood at a big box store you will have to cull the stacks to get good wood. Once you get past all of the picked through studs you will eventually find some good ones.

A quick online check shows the 2x8 and 2x10 at Lowes in N CA are "green". However, the Redding Lowes currently shows 1,216 Top Choice 2"x4"x8' kiln-dried Common Douglas Fir Studs at $2.93 each and 3,717 kiln-dried #2 Common Douglas Fir studs at $2.28 each available today.

I air dry my sawn logs but it usually take a minimum of two years on stickers for hardwoods such has the walnut in the attached photo. The results are worth the time. The other photo is a walnut table top on my workbench today.
 

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According to my pocket reference, eastern cedar is moderately hard, western cedar is medium, and both have poor split resistance (I don't know what that translates to in Janka hardness, but cedar is notoriously NOT structural wood).
Horizontal Shear is rated at 1150, lower than most pines, and definitely lower than all firs, same with compression. But again, it's not a structural wood. Sounds like you may have built the cabinets already, so what's done is done.
Breathing in cedar while sawing can be miserable. I spent a lot of time milling cedar when I was living in Alaska and if I forgot to wear a mask I'd end up with a wicked cough and chest pain like I've never had before. Was told the small cedar dust particles are barbed and stick in your lungs. Don't know if that's true but it's definitely nasty stuff without a mask. I haven't used cedar since I left Alaska! And yeah, kiln dried 2x4 doug fir is available at any HD. Cheap, easy, strong enough.

ps-if you're building right away, green wood is great because it doesn't split and if everything is secured properly, it won't warp much. For cabinets though, forego any framing and just use cabinet ply and build normal cabinet boxes.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the replies! My canvas is blank.....have not built anything yet. The intent of my original question was aimed primarily at the framing (structural part of the build). For example, I plan on having a platform bed across the back of the van with a garage underneath it and I am interested in a lightweight wood of sufficient strength to build the support structure for the bed platform. From your responses so far, it sounds like cedar is NOT the appropriate wood to use for structural purposes :(but would be more appropriate to use as a "decorative" wood;).....or if I build a deck off the back of the van>:D!



For gypsy brewer - Your use of scientific names reminded me of my college dendrology class of many moons ago. If I remember correctly, the three main southern pines at that time were Pinus echinata, Pinus palustris and Pinus taeda. I think in order they are shortleaf, longleaf and loblolly but not sure:eek:!
 

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According to my pocket reference, eastern cedar is moderately hard, western cedar is medium, and both have poor split resistance (I don't know what that translates to in Janka hardness, but cedar is notoriously NOT structural wood).
Southern Red Cedar
Average Dried Weight: 32 lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness: 610 lbf
Modulus of Rupture: 9,400 lbf/in2
Elastic Modulus: 1,170,000 lbf/in2
Crushing Strength: 6,570 lbf/in2

Western Red Cedar
Average Dried Weight: 23 lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness: 350 lbf
Modulus of Rupture: 7,500 lbf/in2
Elastic Modulus: 1,110,000 lbf/in2
Crushing Strength: 4,560 lbf/in2
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Correct :nerd: however my specialities are Apis mellifera then Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Brettanomyces lambicus, Brettanomyces claussenii, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, and Pediococcus damnosus.

Ahhh, hence the call name!
 

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I love cedar, but opted to build with 1 x 2 pine (select) that is readily available and inexpensive at box stores. I have used pocket hole joinery construction extensively and have been very impressed how little wood I've needed to achieve adequate structural strength. Plywood is great stuff, but much of it's strength in cabinetry goes to waste and results in excessive weight. Same thing with MDF, but that's about the worst choice for many reasons.
 

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All cedar would have smelled to much for my taste, and I wanted a harder, stronger wood.


Most all of my cabinet framing (1x2) and doors are bigleaf maple with box joints.
It's dimensionally stable, not too prone to splitting, strong, and IMO looks really nice.
Finished in polyacrylic.











 

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on the Best Coast:
Western Cedar is a close relative to Redwood. Depending on where you are, either W. Cedar or Redwood will be offered for fences and decks.
I've noticed that cedar is all but unavailable in stores in Northern CA, and Redwood is almost "exotic" in Oregon. (I assume Southern Pine is the most common in the Bible Belt, where it grows)
Most of the #2 and better construction grade lumber is doug fir, but the "premium kiln dried" is often Western Hemlock and it's hard to imagine anything being "premium" about hemlock. And sometimes the stacks of 2x4, 2x6 etc are a mix of doug fir and hemlock. The fir is a darker, "orange" color compared to whiteish hemlock.

These species used for rough framing are ok, but for van cabinetry I would spend a little more and use a deciduous species (hardwood). There is such a small amount of wood to be used, it wouldn't cost an arm and a leg to use cherry, poplar, walnut, or other easy to use hardwoods. Also, pre-finished hardwood plywood is your cabinet-making friend.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Most all of my cabinet framing (1x2) and doors are bigleaf maple with box joints.
It's dimensionally stable, not too prone to splitting, strong, and IMO looks really nice.


.....and most importantly, you had the aesthetics committee seal of approval
! I will have to do some research on how to make the box joints.....they look really solid! Like the rest of your build, the cabinets are made to last! Thanks Stan!












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