About the Wood

About the Wood

Signs

    of

      Spirit

Signs

    of

      Spirit

We use Western Red Cedar for the carvings.  Described as “One of the most magnificent conifers in Pacific Northwest forests,” western red cedar flourishes along the coastal fog belt from Alaska to northern California.

 

One of the lightest wood of the conifers, soft in texture and easily worked yet having good tensile strength between the fibers, it is one of the most durable woods in the world. Western Red Cedar is the species from which roofing shingles, decks, and gazebos have traditionally been made. It is resistant to mold, moisture, and insects, plus it does not swell, shrink or warp excessively despite changing climate.

For our art in particular, the beauty of Western Red Cedar is the varying color of the wood. Some pieces are dark, some light, and some vary from one tone to another within the same piece. Cedar is light colored at the newer ‘sap’ wood and darker at the heartwood or center of the tree. Some boards contain both sap and heartwood, giving us the wonderful two-tone effect. While we do have an idea that the wood will be light or dark, we never know the true color until that final step of Oiling.

 

From the Pacific Northwest, the cedar is milled into 1 inch by 12 inch boards that then travels to Lucus Cedar in Willis, TX. (Well, the wood travels all over, we just pick up ours here at Lucus) They let Coop pick through the boards one at a time.  He looks for color, lack of warping, placement of knots (while clear wood - no knots - is a wonderful thing, it is also more expensive).  He knows how he can place the knots to avoid the knots, or in some cases, how to use them to effect.

                        

 

Depending on how much wood we get, we either load it up into the van, or have it delivered.  Because we usually get green wood, wood that has not been kiln dried, we take the boards and stack it them with 1 inch x 1 inch sticks, called dunnage, in-between each board.   This allows air to flow between the boards and aids in the drying.  When the stack is finished, we put something heavy on top so that the top boards don’t curl.  We have to work quickly, you can see in the picture above some of the top ones are curling already!  In the picture with Coop stacking the boards, you can see the variation in color of the wood.  This is what we mean when we say we can pull a lighter or darker board. Again, we won't know exactly what it will look like until it is oiled.