West Red Cedar question


Curious about Wooden Canoes
My neighbor recently resided his house and removed all of the western red cedar siding that was on it and is going to throw it away. It is approximately 3.5" wide and about 3/8 thick.

Is there any reason I could not use this for planking and rib making?
Good Question

Should work for planking--- this is one of the sources for planking. You might have to work around the nail holes.

Not ribs,

When Kathy said it should work for planking, she was also saying don't try and use it for the ribs.

Western Red is way too brittle. Some folks that have tried might add a few words.

Good luck,

White Cedar,

You can find some in Northern WI. and Michigan. There are a number of members in the builders supply list that sell rib stock/rib blanks.

White Cedar is a fun wood to work with. Soak and steam and you can do just about anything with it.

I have seen Will Rush's magic rib knot. He actually ties a rib in a knot!

I've used red cedar for ribs in the past. It can be done, but it takes about twice the boiling time as white cedar, and you get maybe 3-4 times the failure rate. Compared to bending western red, white cedar seems actually easy - I suppose it's for good reason white cedar has for generations been the widely accepted standard for ribs in canoes.
Well at least I have the planking covered, now to find a local source for Honduran Mahogany and Northern White Cedar.
Kettle Moraine Hardwoods, near Racine, WI: kmhardwoods.com
Owl Hardwoods, in Des Plaines, Lombard and Oak Lawn, IL: owlhardwood.com

Good luck! Not sure if you'll find mahogany long enough for gunnels, so scarf joints are a good option.
Red Cedar was commonly used out West for ribs and planking in w/c canoes. I also have a 16' Old Town Guide with Red Cedar ribs, planking and decks.


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Red and White Chestnut

Here is a nightmare that is in our shop now. It is a 1962 Chum with Western Red Cedar planking, unusual for a Chestnut. The first 14 ribs at the bow and at the stern are Northern White Cedar and the ribs in the center of the canoe are Western Red Cedar. It will take some creative staining to get the various parts all the same color since we used White Cedar for some replacement ribs.


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