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Cypress

Taxodium distichum - Bald cypress, Red cypress, Yellow cypress, Southern cypress
 
 

Stain Selector

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Light

Medium

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Cypress trees are conifers, but unlike most American softwoods, these are deciduous trees that shed foilage in the fall like hardwoods.

Although cypress is a softwood, it grows alongside hardwoods and traditionally has been grouped and manufactured with hardwoods.

The oils in cypress' heartwood make it one of the most durable woods when exposed to moisture conditions causing decay.

Where It Grows

Most cypress trees are natives of the South. They are found primarily in wet, swampy areas along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from Delaware to Florida, and west along the Gulf of Mexico to the border of Texas and Mexico. Cypress also thrives along the Mississippi Valley from the Louisiana delta to southern Indiana.

Cypress roots love water. Some trees growing on wet sites develop what are called cypress "knees" or pneumatophores. The knee-like upright growths come from the roots, helping to support the tree and also to aerate the waterlogged root system. The wood from the knees is soft and light and can be used to make vases and novelty items.

Main uses

Exterior: siding, shutters, shingles, trim, fence posts. Interior: paneling, moulding, millwork, cabinetry, flooring, furniture.

Relative Abundance

Together, aspen, basswood, cottonwood, elm, gum, hackberry, sassafras, sycamore and willow represent 12.5 percent of commercially available U.S. hardwoods.

Did You Know?

During the Middle Ages, European craftsmen carved massive cathedral doors from cypress.

General Description

The sapwood is pale yellow white with the heartwood varying in color from light to dark or reddish brown.

Working Properties

General machinability is fair, although tension wood is frequently present and can cause a fuzzy surface when cut, which in turn will require additional care when finishing. The wood glues well and has good resistance to splitting when nailing and screwing. It dries easily but may still have a tendency to warp, with slight movement in performance.

Physical Properties

The sapwood is pale yellow white with the heartwood varying in color from light to dark or reddish brown.

Availability

Readily available as lumber and veneer.

Working Properties


Machining

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Nailing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Screwing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Gluing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Finishing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good
 

Strength and Mechanical Properties (inch-pound)a


 

Static Bending

Moisture Content

Specific Gravity (b)

Modulus of Rupture
(lbf/in2)

Modulus of Elasticity (c)
(106 lbf/in2)

Work to Maximum Load
(in-lbf/in3)

Green-12% 0.42-0.46 6,600-10,600 1.18-1.44 6.6-8.2

Impact Bending
to Grain
(in)

Compression
Parallel to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Compression
Perpendicular to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Shear
Parallel to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Tension
Perpendicular to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Side Hardness
(lbf)

24-25 3,580-6.360 400-730 810-1,000 270-300 390-510

a) Results of tests on small clear specimens in the green and air-dried conditions. Definition of properties; impact bending is height of drop that causes complete failure, using 0.71-kg (50 lb.) hammer; compression parallel to grain is also called maximum crushing strength; compression perpendicular to grain is fiber stress at proportional limit; shear is maximum shearing strength; tension is maximum tensile strength; and side hardness is hardness measured when load is perpendicular to grain.

b) Specific gravity is based on weight when ovendry and volume when green or at 12% moisture content

c) Modulus of elasticity measured from a simply supported, center-loaded beam, on a span depth ratio of 14/1. To correct for shear reflection, the modulus can be increased by 10%.