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Ideas for Small Rustic Crafts With Aromatic Red Cedar

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Red Cedar at Picton castle April 2008 image by David Stirrup from

The aromatic red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), also called eastern red cedar, is one of the most widely distributed conifer species in the U. S., according to the Aromatic Cedar Association. Cedar wood is red to brown and weighs about 33 pounds per cubic foot when air-dried. It is relatively strong with fine grain and soft texture, thus suitable for woodworking with either hand or power tools. Red cedar contains an oil that gives its wood a pleasant aroma. It is a versatile wood, ideal for making small crafts such as jewelry boxes, photo frames, candlestick holders and coasters.

Jewelry Boxes

You can make a small box of red cedar wood, using a simple saw, sandpaper and wood glue. Size and shape can vary according to your taste and wood available. You can use chips of wood and smalls pieces of the bark to create patterns on the box lid. Alternatively, you can carve a simple drawing, initial letters or a symbol that has a especial significance to you or to the person you will give the jewelry box.

Photo Frames

First, you will need to find a hollow log of red cedar. Clean it inside and outside with a brush, to remove dirt and mosses. Then, cut one-inch thick slices off the log and sand around the edges. These are original and easy-to-make circular photo frames. You only need to trim the picture according to the wood slice shape and attach a small piece of wood on the back as a support for the frame. The picture can be simply fixed on the back with masking tape.

Candlestick Holders

Rustic candlestick holders are easy to make, using small branches of red cedar. Look out for unusual shapes that can be arranged together in a way you consider esthetically pleasant. For instance, you can combine a longer piece of branch, surrounded by two smaller ones. Then, you can glue the branches on a cedar wooden board or keep them separated, for a more versatile use. Carve a hole in one of the ends of each branch, according to the candle size, but don't remove or damage the bark, as it provides the rustic look to your candlestick holder.


With a medium branch size of red cedar, you can make original glass and mug coasters by simply cutting it in slice-like pieces half inch thick. After, sand both surfaces. When placing a mug of hot coffee or tea on the coaster, the aroma of the red cedar is released. Alternatively, you can cut the wood branch length-wise, producing a rustic plank of wood that can be used as a pan coaster, if you have a long table.