Wood suggestions

Submitted byGary-IL onTue, 04/23/2019 - 23:02

Hi. I'm about to start my first kayak. I'm in the Chicago area and I've yet to find any clear (or at least reasonably so) WRC and no place has NWC... at least no store that I've been able to get to. At my local wood shop (Owl for those in the area) I checked out their WRC and it was very knotty. Looked at a bunch of other options and all seemed quite heavy by comparison. The backup choice of basswood wasn't too bad appearance and weight wise but then I found their Spanish Cedar. It is not a wood I had heard of before. The weight was similar to WRC and the color and grain were great and what knots I found were pretty much pin sized and would complement my design rather than be a hindrance. So, other then the fact it's a little pricey (but not out of my range) is there any reason I should not consider this wood? Google searches yielded that boat building is one of the known uses of this wood and there were recommendations to ensure your source is from a certified (FSC?) operation.

Too good to be true? or a decent find?



Never used the wood so my only opinion comes only from reading internet comparisions of the Cedars. According to them - 

"It has random pockets of gum and natural oils"

"Because of low density and softness it is difficult to get a fuzz free surface, takes more sanding with finer grits. Gum pockets can remain wet and ooze out on surrounding surface also adding to the finishing challenge"

"Difficult to finish because of the aromatic oils."

From the above descriptions my first concern would be how well epoxy would stick to the oily surface ? I cannot purchase Cedar locally so I order it through the local lumberyard. There are several on-line lumber mills that will sell direct if you want to pay shipping. There have been lists of these posted on the forum from time to time. Try a Google search.



Wed, 04/24/2019 - 12:10

I've used Spanish cedar - it's one of the 'standard' woods for guitar necks, especially on classical guitars.

I never had finishing problems, but I was using shellac/alcohol based finish (French Polish), not epoxy.

I'd do my best to get WRC if I were building another kayak, but I'm pretty sure I could make Sp. Cedar work if necessary.

It's heavier than good WRC.

Thanks for the reply Randy


Assuming you were looking at the same site, https://www.wood-database.com/spanish-cedar/ where I also saw those comments,

"Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, cabinetry, musical instruments, (flamenco and classical guitars), humidors, and boatbuilding."

From my previous research it appears the oozing oils and such are usually a factor of the kiln drying or more specifically the improper drying which had led me to:

"If special attention is given during kiln drying, Spanish Cedar’s tendency towards warpage and weeping can be avoided; not every lumber wholesaler, though, has the right equipment for properly drying this wood. " at https://www.mcilvain.com/hardwoods/spanish-cedar/ 


I'm an avid experienced amateur wood worker so extra sanding and handling isn't enough to scare me away. Assuming the oozing/oils isn't an issue and with the narrow thin strips there shouldn't be many areas for it to "hide" I'm still not scarred off of it. 

I've also found a handful of people who have said they used it including https://www.thehulltruth.com/boats-sale-wanted/411572-18-handmade-cedar-canoe.html.

So... I'm not committed to it yet but I also don't think I've found any "run away!"  reasons either.



Wed, 04/24/2019 - 15:40

I'd use basswood in a kayak if I couldn't get WRC, though it's a bit plain to finish clear.

I've used basswood in 'contrast strips' when I was in the 'decorative stripping' phase.

Big clear boards, but not nearly as stiff as WRC.

Have you tried them?


Harry’s Lumber Co.
6220 N Northwest Hwy
Chicago, IL 60631
Phone: (773) 631-6568
Fax: (773) 631-6593

The advertise clear cedar.