Why cedar?

With the recent discussions about the environment and wood, it seems very appropriate to mention some great recent posts by our good friend Woodchuck on why Incense-Cedar is such an excellent wood for pencils:

Incense-cedar originally began to be used as a substitute wood for Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) which was the premier wood for US produced pencils and some European pencils dating from the mid 1800s through the early 20th century. It is commonly thought that the main purpose for the shift to Incense-cedar was due to dwindling supply of Eastern Red Cedar and there is some relevance here, but primarily from a comparative economic standpoint only. ERC is still widely used for commercial purposes today for products which most benefit from the technical characteristics contained in the natural cedar oil extractives of this species. Products such as closet lining, shoe trees, coat hangers, storage chests and natural oil extractives used in the essential oils industry for perfume and other cosmetic and scent purposes.
So what is the full story for the transition to Incense-cedar?” (Read on to find out!)

“Unlike species that occur in groves, Incense-cedar can be found scattered among Douglas-fir, Jeffrey Pine, ponderosa pine and other species that dominate the mixed-conifer forest. Within the state of California, Incense-cedar generally comprises about 5% of the trees in a stand while just 1.5% in it’s southern Oregon growing range. Despite it’s popularity in a range of uses, Incense cedar has never become a mono-cultural plantation species as with other commercial western softwoods. As a prolific seed-cone producer it readily regenerates and proliferates throughout it’s growing range aggressively repopulating any available site on the forest floor. It’s germination and survival rate are excellent relative to other softwoods….there is more Incense-cedar growing in California forests today than at any time during the past 50 to 70 years based upon data from the US Forest Service mandated Forest Inventory and Analysis Project.” (Read on!)

[Excerpts, Woodchuck at Timberlines. Image, Oregon State University.]

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