We Support Sustainable Design, Building and Responsible Forestry. Thuja Wood Art specializes in reclaimed/recycled Western Red Cedar harvested from a responsible source. We are dedicated to being the most reliable supplier of green building products in the Gulf Islands, British Columbia. A copy of our Salvage Permit from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations outlines our low-impact guidelines for salvaging timber from foreshore zones.
Its all about the smell… I’d like you to close your eyes for a moment, and imagine we are on a remote west coast beach. The sun on our backs. Walking over driftwood and across the sand. You can smell the salt air on the breeze… this is where my part of the story begins.
But before me the red cedar tree lived for hundreds of years in the forest, a cornerstone of northwest coast First Nations culture. Called the ‘Tree of Life’, it is still held in highest respect by northwest coast peoples for its healing and spiritual powers.
I salvage and reclaim only the best quality clear, tight grain old growth red cedar. And how can you tell which driftwood is cedar? Follow your nose. Red cedar has a wonderful and distinct smell, which always draws me in…and so the cedar begins a new journey on the path from driftwood to functional art. Reclaimed wood typically comes from old-growth timber that was harvested from trees bigger and older than anything currently being harvested today. As a result, this wood possesses superior characteristics to new-growth lumber.
Working the cedar with wedges, and a sledge hammer, first I must split it into manageable bolts, which I can transport back to my workshop. Using mostly hand tools to work the wood, the froe and mallet do much of the work. With traditional joinery, the mortise and tenon allow the wood to hold itself together without the use of nails or screws.
The official tree of British Columbia, red cedar is renowned for its natural beauty and outstanding physical properties. These properties make cedar a natural first choice for outdoor woodworking. Red cedar’s natural oils make it the most rot-resistant of woods.
Classified as a DURABLE WOOD by building codes across N. America, this permits its use for exterior applications without preservative treatments.
Cedar shrinks and swells minimally with changes in moisture giving it superior resistance to warping, cupping and twisting. Cedar has outstanding dimensional stability, which is greatly increased by splitting the wood instead of milling it (which doesn’t follow the grain). Handsplit cedar is many times stronger than milled wood of similar dimension
Local first nations say that the Great Spirit created Redcedar in honour of a man who was always helping others:
‘When he dies and where he is buried, a cedar tree will grow and be useful to the people – the roots for baskets, the bark for clothing, the wood for shelter’