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About Spanish Cedar Lumber

The Preferred Choice for Both Exterior and Interior Applications

Spanish Cedar, or Cedrela odorata, comes from the Meliaceae family of trees and is found primarily in Central and South American countries including Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. Some good quality Spanish Cedar is also grown on plantations in Ghana and The Ivory Coast.

Like “Red Cedar” and the names of many other lumber species, the term “Spanish Cedar” is a bit of a misnomer: Spanish Cedar is neither Spanish nor a Cedar. In fact, it’s not even a soft wood. Instead, it comes from the same family as Mahogany, which makes sense, considering that it’s actually more similar to Genuine Mahogany than it is to actual Cedar. The gorgeous coloring, attractively straight grain patterns, and workability make it prized by many wood workers.

Here at J. Gibson McIlvain, we stock supplies of high-quality Spanish Cedar for distribution throughout the United States, and we highly recommend it as a cost-saving alternative to Genuine Mahogany.

Positive Traits

Also known as Cigar-box Cedar, Spanish Cedar is well known for that traditional use. The reason it’s ideal for that niche application is a combination of its low density and natural aroma. The species has a low density, making it extremely lightweight. It also has a natural aroma that repels insects; of course, many people find the distinctive scent of Cedar to be attractive, as well. The wood’s high resin count makes it resistant to rot. This same collection of characteristics makes Spanish Cedar ideal as a high-quality exterior-grade species.

Negative Tendencies

That same low density that makes many value Spanish Cedar can be a problem, too. The low density is a result of the tree’s slow growth, making it less stable than many other species, including Genuine Mahogany. However, careful kiln drying can curb this tendency toward warping. While not every lumber wholesaler has the right equipment or expertise to properly dry Spanish Cedar, J. Gibson McIlvain has special kilns capable of setting Spanish Cedar without hardening or over-drying it. The just-right temperature at which these kilns operate (200 degrees F) cannot be achieved by many other kilns in North America. The end result is the prodution of a more uniform Spanish Cedar product, while minimizing the customer's exposure to wood waste, a costly factor in production.

Sustainable Trust

Spanish Cedar’s increasing popularity, coupled with its slow growth rate, has contributed to its being listed as a vulnerable species. Even though it’s still highly available, some lumber dealers are seeing a drop in lumber quality. With the difficulties in importing Spanish Cedar, we’re focusing our buying efforts toward South and Central America. The African and Asian variants seem to be less reliable in quality, an issue that has led to recent decrease in the popularity of this species.

At J. Gibson McIlvain, we aim to strike a balance between taking environmental responsibility seriously and considering our customers’ satisfaction. As such, we source our Spanish Cedar from both plantation and certified sources known for growing high-quality Spanish Cedar. We’re committed to quality, so we won’t compromise to attain larger quantities for lower prices. We can’t control the availability of high-quality lumber, but we can control the standards by which we determine what we buy and sell.

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J. Gibson McIlvain Company is a wholesale distributor of a vast array of quality wood products.
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