Cedar wood enjoys a good reputation as a softwood for both construction and wood crafts, but a common misconception about cedar is that all cedar wood is essentially the same. In reality, different types of cedar are endowed with different properties, and therefore are good only for particular projects. If you are shingling a shed, making a chest or engaged in any project that requires softwood, cedar might be the right choice of wood for you, but only if you choose the right kind of cedar.
Western Red Cedar
The western red cedar or Pacific red cedar is a common and frequently used type of lumber, prized for several different qualities. Western red cedar is aromatic and somewhat insect-repellent, making it desirable for lining chests, wardrobes and closets. This type of cedar is also sometimes fashioned into small balls and plaques, which are then either hung inside closets or inserted into clothing drawers, serving the same purpose as a cedar liner. Western red cedar also bears thujaplicin, a natural anti-bacterial agent and fungicide. These properties make the wood strongly resistant to decay, and therefore ideal for outdoor applications. The wood also has good insulating properties, and combined with its aforementioned durability, makes it a popular choice for shingles. The wood's resonant qualities mean it is sometimes selected for use in interior paneling or making musical instruments, such as guitars.
Eastern Red Cedar
One mixed quality of western red cedar is that it is one of the softest types of cedar wood available. Eastern red cedar is tougher, but otherwise similar to its western cousin. So, while eastern red cedar is also used to make chest and wardrobe liners, a craftsman might also choose to make the entire piece of furniture out of this type of cedar as well. Eastern red cedar's strength combined with its rot-resistance make it a popular choice for fence posts and even some types of bows.
Spanish cedar is also popular for its insect-repellent qualities. It is sometimes called cigar box cedar because it is so often used in making humidors. This is an aromatic, attractive and light type of cedar, and shares some of the same decay-resisting properties of western red cedar. However, the wood is also very resistant to termites.
True cedar is the cedar people think of when they refer to the historical "cedars of Lebanon." It is therefore a famous type of wood but not especially common, as it has been over-harvested for most of recorded history. This type of wood is very popular for use in lining clothing containers, like chests, drawers and wardrobes. It is not only aromatic, but also moisture-absorbent and repels moths. The wood is also prized for its very attractive grain.