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Making Cedar Planking from "big box" store lumber

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Michael Graessle, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. Michael Graessle

    Michael Graessle Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    It has been a while since I have been on the forum, but here is my dilemma. I am restoring a 1924 OTCA. I purchased the wrong size planking form Island Fall Canoe. Completely my own fault...I measured the tapered end! I live in North Carolina and it will be a long time until I am in Maine again. My question is can I get white cedar from Lowe's and rip it to dimension? Will it be the same quality as the wood from Jerry? I am nervous that the drying process may alter the color/staining quality.

    Any thoughts?
  2. mccloud

    mccloud Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I have never seen white cedar in Lowes. You sure you are looking for white? Most planking was western red. Difficult to find air dried lumber at any big box store. Closer to NC is NJ, Wharton Forest area of the Pine Barrens, where there is some air dried white cedar. The growth rings are wider than northern white, but it will serve perfectly well for planking or ribs. I start from rough sawn boards and cut to whatever dimensions are required. Tom McCloud
  3. OP
    Michael Graessle

    Michael Graessle Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes


    I have not gone to the store yet, I have only looked online so far. In the product description is days the wood is "green" and does not list it as "kiln dried." I have a 1924 OTCA AA will all mahogany gunwales and seats. My build receipt lists the planking as W.C. which I assumed to be white cedar, but it very well may be Western Cedar. I guess I will have to go up there and take a look for myself.

  4. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Ditto what Tom said. Big Box consumer stores sell nominally dimensioned (a "2x4" is not 2" x 4") , SPF (Spruce, Pine or Fir), whatever was available. You may find Western Red Cedar there, but sort for only the best (straightest, no/few/tiny knots). You may go through a whole lift and only come up with a board or two suitable for boatbuilding.
  5. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Call your local fence building companies. They always have white cedar. Usually #2 so it may have knots. If you ask they may let you pick through the pile. I found a local fence building company near me in NJ and they have almost clear white cedar ,it's beautiful . I had to call a few companies before I found them.
  6. OP
    Michael Graessle

    Michael Graessle Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for the help, I will start to make some calls.
  7. OP
    Michael Graessle

    Michael Graessle Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    So I found a local mill that has Atlantic White Cedar that is kiln dried. Luckily they carry select grate with minimal knots.
  8. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The "W. C." on an Old Town build record was for red Western cedar. They used "M. C." or spelled it out if Eastern white Maine cedar was used. See and for examples of these. However, a 95 year old canoe has usually been exposed to enough sunlight that the differences between red cedar and white cedar are no longer obvious. Good luck with your restoration,

  9. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    I've had good luck going to millwork shops for western (red) cedar. You have to look through xX6 stock though, 2X4 isn't wide enough. Look through the 2x6, 4x6 and 6x6 stock. Every log sawn has to have some of it come out quartersawn.

    Another place to look is in the red cedar siding. This is almost always quartersawn, and while beveled, you can usually get it wide enough to plane down to the proper thickness and still have the width you need.
  10. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Most of the red cedar planking I've cut has been from Menards.
    Look for 2x8/10/12's in longer lengths, they usually have the best wood.
    If you can find a board with the wain, that's the best, as it will have fewer knots (the grade is driven by the wain).

    Or if you don't have time, find a contractor yard that carries Aye grade cedar. Here in MPLS Scherer carries/used to carry it. Put it's pricey.

  11. Denise MsWdnBoat

    Denise MsWdnBoat Breaker of tradition

    How wide is the "wrong" planking you have? Purists may faint from the mere thought, but you could use use it, depending on how much you need to replace you could balance side to side the narrow to wide, alternate wide narrow wide..

    Point is, you already have it, cost you a small fortune, and your going to spend more money just to get the width you need...
  12. OP
    Michael Graessle

    Michael Graessle Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Sorry for not getting back sooner, I have been busy milling my planking. And messing a lot if it up! I found a lumber mill in my area that sell Atlantic White Cedar. The boards are miss cuts from orders. I was able to pick up several boards 7 inches wide by 6 foot long and two that are 12 inches wide by three feet long. I am enjoying milling them down, but I have messed up several boards in the process. I don't mind though as it means a bit more to me that a milled the wood!

    So the original error I made was I bought 3 inch boards when I needed 4 inch boards. I am rounding up as the widest board is 3 3/4 wide.
  13. Ron Bedard

    Ron Bedard Curious about Wooden Canoes


    Dan Miller's reply about the WRC siding sounds pretty practical. A rip from the thick edge should yield planks of sufficient thickness. You shouldn't need to cull for quarter-sawn. The flat sawn pieces would be more flexible against the ribs. It'll be KD, so don't nail too close to the edges as I imagine it'll want to split. The color should be pretty close to the originals.
    Good luck
  14. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Western red cedar is readily available here as decking material and the beauty of it is that it comes in long and wide clear lengths.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  15. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I buy 6x6 red cedar timbers. Need to sort through a few to get mostly clear wood.

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