"China Cedar" -- What Is It?

"China Cedar" is a separate species grown in the Far East. However, Cedar logs from America do get sent to China and come back to North America as lumber, complicating the picture. December 30, 2007

There is a post on Wood Planet listing China cedar decking for sale. Just what is China cedar?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor J:
See if you can get a sample of it. Based on recent products from the "Peoples" republic, it might be recycled Anacardiaceae Toxicodendron radicans. It's worth looking into before you end up with an expensive problem.

From contributor W:
My guess would be, it's some of the Alaska or maybe western red that the Canadians are exporting in log form to China that is coming back.

From contributor T:
There have also been some posts on the web by millers from the Eastern US saying they are being approached by the Chinese with orders for all the ERC cants they can get their hands on. My thoughts are that bulk processing should be done as close to the source/destination as possible to reduce the energy use in transporting and to benefit the economies of the source areas.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
China cedar is Cunninghamia lanceolata. I have no idea of the properties, but as you can tell from the Latin name, it is not in the genus of any of the North American cedars. It is probably not a good idea to consider it to have similar properties as the woods we know as cedar here in the USA.

From contributor A:
I frequently get a request from a Chinese company. They want Monterey cypress and cedar. They send the sizes and all the particulars that they want you to fulfill. Even scheduling a shipping container to transport. Keep it local.

From the original questioner:
Thanks Gene.

I am going to sell to whoever makes my bottom line the biggest. I am tired of all the US companies complaining they can't pay what other countries pay for logs and cants. They expect me to take less, so that they can make more profit at my expense. So I will sell to the Chinese, Koreans, Swedes, Caribbean and others. This is business.

I lost 50 percent of my cedar sales to a company that sent their production to China. But it was the lowest price 50 percent. Best thing that has happened in a long time. Sales are good and prices are way more than I was getting before.

So that begs the question. Should producers keep production in the US to help others, or do what is best for themselves? Should tree growers and timber harvesters get the highest world price or just the highest US price?

From contributor A:
I must be missing something. I am in the business of sawing and selling wood both wholesale and retail. I know what logs cost, what fuel costs are, handling costs, transportation, steel, and so on. So how can someone from China come and pay more for logs and truck them to the nearest port, then ship them across the pond, then transport them again and mill them, and make the return trip, and sell it cheaper than I can? My milling cost is only $ 0.20 a bdft. I looked into trucking cost and it was going to cost $0.21 a bdft for me to truck it to New Orleans. Something is not right in this picture. Even if they pay the deck hands on the ships and the employees in China $0.50 a day they are still buying oil on the same world market as we are. Or are they?

If I have to buy something and can choose between US, Canada, or Mexico as to anywhere else in the world, then I buy from the first three. If I can sell my product local and still make a living, then that is what I do. Yeah, I may make less money right now, but in a few years my local economy will be in better shape.

From contributor W:
I also feel that there is something wrong when the local companies can't compete with the overseas companies. I think what it boils down to is making the most money with no outlay. That's so they can pay millions to the CEO while they lay off thousands of workers. I pay top dollar for logs, mill, dry and make money. Why can't they?

From contributor B:
I try to be a good business man, and don't want to leave a lot of money on the table, but I do want to deliver a good product for a fair price. I can make a good living doing that. Not caring about how you profit, just that you charge the highest price, is just as dangerous as trying to be the cheapest. Neither one is very satisfying or long lasting. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?

From the original questioner:
When a Chinese manufacturer pays 90 cents a foot and another manufacturer will only pay 75, I will send all I can to China and then sell local. I will let my competitor sell for 75. How many loggers will sell their logs for less than they have to? They are always on the phone seeing who will pay the most for what they have. Give someone a bargain and the first thing they do is brag to their buddies how they haggled down the seller. Profit is not a dirty word.

From contributor R:
To answer the original question, Chinese cedar (aka: China fir) is a species commonly found in China, Laos and Vietnam. Many of the buildings that are hundreds of years old are produced from this and are still standing strong all over China. Here, domestically, it is an ever growing species for S4S, fascia, millwork, fencing and any other outdoor structure. The fiber is actually a relative of Western red and performs just as well in accelerated weather tests, mold tests, as well as rot and fungus tests.