Properties of Cedar & Pine Wood

pine tree leaves image by timur1970 from

Pine and cedar are two popular types of wood. Both are used for a variety of purposes such as furniture, cabinetry, carpentry and boat/ship building. Pine is often used for its strength and inexpensive cost. Cedar is hailed for its natural resistance to decay and its characteristic aroma. There are several types of each wood which have different physical properties, working properties, appearance and uses.

Physical Properties

Pine is a soft wood with physical properties which vary in accordance with the type of pine being used. Eastern White Pine is soft and weak; however, Southern Yellow Pine, Parana Pine and Kauri Pine are more durable with stronger wood. According to Woodbin Woodworking, Kauri Pine is considered to be one of the strongest softwoods in the world.

There are two main types of cedar: True Cedar and South American Cedar. True Cedar is classified as softwood with low strength and medium weight. The heartwood is resistance to decay. South American Cedar, however, is classified as hardwood with moderate strength and increased resistance to decay.

Working Properties

Kauri Pine is highly rated for gluing, screwing and nailing. Parana Pine, Sugar Pine, Southern Yellow Pine and Ponderosa Pine all glue well and hold nails and screws. Western White Pine and Eastern White Pine do not require pre-drilling for nails and screws. Ponderosa Pine, Southern Yellow Pine, Sugar Pine all have a higher resin content which can affect machinery and interact with wood sealants.

True Cedar's knotty texture can be difficult to work with; however, it holds nails and screws well and can be polished. Red Cedar is easily cut; however, it also easily splits while being nailed. South American Cedar holds glue, screws and nails well.


Pine has a straight grain and varies in colouration depending on the type of pine being used. For example, Eastern White Pine is usually creamy white or pale yellow in colour; however, Parana pine's colour is similar to honey. Patterns within the wood may also differ. For example, Parana Pine displays faint growth rings while Ponderosa Pine may display a bird's eye pattern.

Cedar also has a straight grain; however, True Cedar may also have a knotty grain while South American Cedar occasionally has an interlocked grain. True Cedar is light brown in colour while South American Cedar and Red Cedar feature reddish-brown colouration.


Pine is often used for general construction, cabinetry, furniture, doors and boxes. Eastern White Pine's properties make it useful for sculptures, panelling, toys, caskets and musical instruments. Kauri Pine is frequently used in building boats, tanks and wooden machinery. Sugar Pine is used to form piano keys, plywood, carvings, siding and plywood.

True Cedar is often utilised for cabinetry, furniture, doors, outdoor furniture, house construction, panelling and veneers. South American Cedar is used in manufacturing fine furniture, decks, chests, cigar boxes, plywood, general construction and ship building. Red Cedar's intense aroma repels moths; therefore, it is frequently used to line chests and closets.

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