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A friend of mine had a couple of large cedar trees cut down. A friend of his has a portable sawmill and cut them up. As a result, I will be getting some untreated 1x12 cedar boards for free.

I'm not much of a carpenter but I've mastered building medium hive bodies using rabbet joints, glue and screws.

Will cedar split using screws in a rabbet joint? Should the boxes be painted or oiled or anything? The lumber is straight from the tree and not kiln dried or treated at all. I've never worked with cedar before.

Thanks - Smokey
 

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Two diameter pilot holes gives the least splitting and strongest joints. Use a bit less torque than you would for pine. Allow some extra width on boxes for shrinkage of green lumber. Deeps can stand a bit under but mediums by design are a bit tight if any shrinkage occurs. Easy to take a smidgen off but not easy to put on. I dont think shrinkage is appreciably greater but good advice generally when using green lumber.

Mine got painted. I can tell when I lift them. Noticeably lighter even with a medium.
 

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Free cedar? Lucky guy/good friends. Frank gave good advice. I love cedar but it does split easier so do use pilot holes. Maybe it won't be as prone to splitting being green.
If you are not going to stick it to dry it, you need to make the boxes as soon as you can because it will warp and twist on you. In the meantime, store in a flat, dry shaded area. Putting some weight on the stack wouldn't hurt either. J
 

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I'm in no hurry to use it. Would it help to let them air dry until winter?
Yes, very much. Best case would be to have it sawn to 4/4 which is 1" nominal thickness. Stack and sticker it, which is stacking with sticks between each layer so each board can get airflow and let it sit for some time. General rule of thumb is one year per inch of thickness. But we are not making furniture here, so you can get away with less. Once it has dried down a bit then you will need to cut, flatten, and final thickness the parts. You do not want to use really green wood, it is going to cup, twist, bow, and split (check) as it dries initially.

It is best to let the wood dry down a bit and get in a shape it is happy in then make your parts from there. If you try and force it to be flat your boxes have a good chance of warping and splitting.
 

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I would wait until this fall/winter to let it dry as much as possible to reduce twisting and cupping. Cedar is pretty brittle so I would definitely drill and countersink that close to the end of the board. If you clamp well screws are not required in my opinion. Any flat sawn wood will tend to cup so remember to put the ) cup going to the inside. Keep your eyes open for sales on clamps between now and build time. I don't screw my boxes together and the only time I've had problems is the few times I didn't pay attention to the cup direction.

Have fun!
 

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:thumbsup: on the countersink.

Alex
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the replies. I've only worked with rough sawn pine before so this is all new.
 

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You probably already know this but just in case you don't....
If possible, avoid using the white sapwood since it has a much lower insect and rot resistance.
 

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You probably already know this but just in case you don't....
If possible, avoid using the white sapwood since it has a much lower insect and rot resistance.
Actually I didn't know that. I probably shouldn't be allowed to own a hammer. Woodworking is not my strong suit.
 

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I'm in no hurry to use it. Would it help to let them air dry until winter?
It would help to let them dry, stickered and stacked for 1 year per inch of thickness. And you should wax or paint the ends too. Always pre-drill. And, you might want to have some acetone around to clean any surface before putting glue on it. It will both shrink as well as warp, cup and twist as it drys. Normally you allow extra thickness when it is milled, and after it is kiln dried, or allowed to air dry you dress it down with a jointer and planer to final thickness. Although most shrinkage will be across the grain as opposed to with the grain so your 6-5/8" direction can go down to 6-3/8" or less. But your 19 and 16 directions should be pretty stable.

I don't work much with green wood, or cedar too often. But I do find cedar to be very brittle in some areas and softer in others. Don't force it with any tools, keep your blades and bits sharp, and let the tool do the work. Not to scare you, but I had a piece of beautifully marbled (kiln dried) cedar pretty much explode/disintegrate (whichever you prefer) when trying to get one more use out of a sawblade that had needed to be replaced quite some time before. If you have never had that happen on a table saw, it will change your whole attitude and outlook on life. Maybe even your laundry schedule too :)

Cedar can be a beautiful wood. There is a guy here that sells cedar hives on CL and the pictures of them are gorgeous.
 

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Before you us it, stack it with stickers outside where it can get air movement through the pile. Only cover the top, not the sides. It needs to dry for 9 mos to a year if 4/4 thick. (about an inch rough) It will still be "not dry" at that point, but usable for outdoor projects like hive boxes at that point. If you use it green, you're likely going to have problems.
 

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A friend of mine had a couple of large cedar trees cut down. A friend of his has a portable sawmill and cut them up. As a result, I will be getting some untreated 1x12 cedar boards for free.

I'm not much of a carpenter but I've mastered building medium hive bodies using rabbet joints, glue and screws.

Will cedar split using screws in a rabbet joint? Should the boxes be painted or oiled or anything? The lumber is straight from the tree and not kiln dried or treated at all. I've never worked with cedar before.

Thanks - Smokey
Hi Smokey,

I have several cedar unpainted home made boxes.
I would sticker and dry the wood for a bit out of the sun. ( 2 months)
I drill with a counter sink, 1/8 inch combo bit and used 3 inch screws.
Keep in mind cedar is softer, so the current drills can drive a screw right thru it.
Also when scraping off Propolis it can goudge easier. And if you torch boxes on occasion keep the heat farther aware it will combust faster than pine.

I also have a 300$ Menards Planner so I sized mine (thickness) for some consistency.

worked fine, I did paint some and have some unpainted. If outside , IMO paint them, mine are under a roof.
I just but jointed, used a table saw for the 1/2 x 3/8 frame rest.

the boards only need be 10 inch to get the 9 5/8 for deeps. the 4 , 6 ,8 inch make good lids, and bottoms.

have fun
GG
 

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Use stainless or coated screws unless you want bleeding from the metal. Build a lot of planters w cedar. I use coated decking screws w self drilling points on 1x6 decking (1x5.5) and I don't need to pilot and they kind of sink themselves bc the wood is very soft.
 

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I also wonder though...cedar is rot resistant but it's not water resistant really. So if you don't seal it, won't it just absorb water and make the box wet and is that an issue for moisture and bees? Would you still seal it?
 

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I have a commercially made bottom and lid made of 1x12 cedar. I didn't paint them, just some hot tung oil and wax that most of my equipment has. The wood shrank, and when it shrank they left gaps where the planks were joined, so the lid leaks badly. The leaking lid was useless so I put some sheet metal over it to seal it. The bees propolized the bottom where it split, so it's still in service.
I have a 45 year old cedar fence that's still going strong, it doesn't have to seal out the weather, but I'm not impressed with cedar bee equipment, which does.
 
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