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Featured Projects : Kilroy Home, Kauai HI



Photos by Tom and Carol Kilroy


As seen in these pictures from Hawaii, Port Orford cedar makes an excellent siding, decking and interior paneling, especially in humid climates where insects and moisture may cause other woods to fail. Our thanks to the Kilroy family in Kauai , Hawaii for sharing these marvelous pictures of their home, built with Bear Creek Lumber Port Orford select knotty tongue and groove.

Port-Orford-cedar is one of the white-cedars in a group of “false-cypresses,” numbering three native species in the U.S. and four additional species in Japan and Taiwan. The Port-Orford-cedar ( Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ) was first discovered in its small natural range along the California/Oregon coast in 1851. The total range was only about 200 miles long north and south, and about 50 miles deep, shared by both states, about 70 percent in Oregon. Port-Orford-cedar, also known as Port-Orford white-cedar, Oregon-cedar and Lawson cypress prefers a mild climate with plenty of rain (40-90 inches annually)! High humidity and misting from the Pacific Ocean are also factors in the healthy growth of this tree in its natural areas. The range has been extended by planting the original and its variations around much of the northern half of the world, and in New Zealand.

These large attractive, and very shade-tolerant trees grow to 125’ to 180’ in 500 years, with diameters of 3 1/2’ – 6’. A record tree, 219’ tall with a diameter of 12’, standing in Siskiyou, Oregon may be 700 years old. The wood of Port-Orford-cedar has a straight, but somewhat uneven, medium grain. The wood is white yellow in color, sometimes with tinges of light brown, and has a sweet ginger- like scent. Sapwood is hardly distinguishable from heartwood. Of relatively light weight and good strength, this wood has a specific gravity of 0.40 and weighs about 27 pounds per cubic foot at 8% moisture content, about the same as eastern hemlock and a little heavier than eastern white pine. The wood dries easily and quickly with no problems. It works well in every respect with power or hand-tools, polishes and takes paint, stain and all finishes extremely well. Its ease in staining makes it simple to imitate mahogany and other higher priced woods, adding to its popularity as a fine cabinet wood. Port-Orford-cedar is very stable in any application and when exposed to soil, water or weather is considered to be one of the most durable of woods. The unique, strong ginger-like scent, due to a volatile oil, can be overpowering.

Dust masks and skin protection are recommended to avoid ingestion or contact with the oil or sawdust. Port-Orford-cedar has been used for a wide variety of things from the Hawaiian Presidential Palace to Japanese Buddhist temples, California gold mine timbers , and building construction. It was used for high quality boats – Sir Thomas Lipton used this wood for his Shamrock series of 100’ racing sailboats, built as challengers for the Americas Cup just prior to World War 1. This wood is in great demand in China and Japan for coffins and for temple construction because of its close relationship to Hinoki cypress ( Chamaecyparis obtusa ) which is though to have a spiritual nature. This wood is also used for broom handles, boats, wet cell battery dividers, clothes chests and closets, aircraft plywood, veneer and stringed instrument sound-boards. It is also an excellent wood for arrow shafts. As seen in these pictures from Hawaii, it makes an excellent siding, decking, and interior paneling, especially in humid climates where insects and moisture may cause other woods to fail. Bear Creek Lumber can supply a variety of products in Port Orford cedar, from tongue and groove boards and decking to timbers, beams and fascia.