As many contractors call up their lumber wholesaler and order Spanish Cedar, they expect that like orders before, the wood will have a similar quality and workability; however, many contractors are finding that the wood ends up arriving in sub par quality. Those contractors then have to reject the Spanish Cedar due to its inferior quality, and because its poor appearance will not work for an exterior project, such as the siding for a home or commercial building. While the wholesaler simply shipped Spanish Cedar as requested, because a conversation regarding the origin of the wood did not take place during the initial purchase, the quality of the wood and its appearance was not known before the contractor actually received the shipment. Likely, those wholesalers were offering Spanish Cedar from an African plantation. On the other hand, Spanish Cedar from Ghana, Africa tends to have a much superior quality. The wider cut of about 6” of Spanish Cedar from Ghana has fewer pin knots. However, Spanish Cedar from the Ivory Coast is narrow with an inconsistent grain. With an increased amount of pin knots, during planing and processing, the wood can become torn, which will make for not only a less than desirable appearance, but also will expose the wood to the elements.
Another thing to consider is the drying process of the Spanish Cedar. Because it is very difficult to dry, sometimes Spanish Cedar is not properly processed, which will in turn make the cedar weep; this sap weepage will cause difficulties when putting glue or any type of finish on the wood. If your project absolutely requires Spanish Cedar, be certain to have a conversation with your wholesaler regarding the origin of the wood, as well as the drying process. You will save yourself time and money. This ensures that the product arrives as expected, and that you aren’t disappointed with the quality or appearance. However, if you are willing to look at an alternative to Spanish Cedar, Sapele or Utile may be heavier and denser options that are also cheaper. Used outdoors and often in the construction of windows or doors, Sapele is cheaper than Utile and has an interlocking grain with dark ribbon stripes. Once dried, it is a relatively stable option. Utile, an alternative to mahogany as well, is a very popular wood which has an interlocking dark and light grain. Used for exterior applications, the wood tears less, making it a great option for a project in which a clear stain will be used.
If you are looking for a lighter product for your project, you may consider Fiji Mahogany, which is cheaper than traditional mahogany and often available in wider and longer sizes. Although the appearance is not as superior as traditional mahogany, it is a great option for projects that are going to be stained. In your next project, consider whether you actually need Spanish Cedar (view specs) or if you could benefit from one of the above alternatives, which could serve the same purpose, be more cost-effective, and have shorter waiting periods. Both Sapele and Utile are available in a variety of sizes, including large widths and lengths. Weather resistant and thick, Sapele and Utile can be a cost-effective alternative to Spanish Cedar. Fiji Mahogany has a shorter waiting period as it is more readily available and not considered endangered. J. Gibson McIvain Company has an extensive supply of Spanish Cedar, Sapele, Utile, and Fiji Mahogany in their lumberyards. Based on your project, desired widths and lengths, and use, their experts can help you determine whether you need Spanish Cedar or if one of the alternatives can be used.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums. Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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