Cedarwood is a favorite pick for a lot of Projects that will be sitting outside, mainly because cedar is naturally very resistant to the elements. But it also has a few major downsides, that woodworkers know of and work around. Cedarwood is, for example, known to move a lot. It contracts and expands quite a lot depending on the season. This is also one of the reasons why regular nails and most screws are usually not good enough to properly fasten cedarwood. Which brings us to the main topic of today’s article.
In short, the best fasteners for Cedarwood are stainless steel fasteners. Hot dipped galvanized fasteners can also work well and are cheaper than stainless steel fasteners, however, if the zinc coating is damaged then the underlying steel will come in contact with the cedarwood and cause black spots on the wood after a while.
I know, that was a lot in a very short time but I will explain every option in more detail, so keep on reading if you want to know more.
First of all, the very best choice of fasteners for pretty much any project, that involves cedarwood are stainless steel fasteners. Stainless steel will not react with anything, including the cedarwood. So it will create a strong and permanent bond, that can also withstand any movement from the wood for a very long time.
You can get stainless steel fasteners at your local hardware store or right here on Amazon.
You can also use stainless steel nails but make sure, that the nails are maze nails to keep the nail from loosening when the wood contracts and expands. Again, you can get them in your local hardware store or on Amazon. They are kind of expensive though.
Another, a little cheaper alternative, would be hot-dipped galvanized fasteners. Hot-Dip galvanizing is the process of coating steel with zinc by dipping it in the molten zinc. You can read more about the process in depth right here on galvaniteit.org.
This process will coat the steel with a thick coat of zinc and prevent the steel from ever having contact with the wood in the first place. This has the advantage of making the product a little bit cheaper because it is not entirely made of stainless steel but instead it has a regular steel core with a zinc coating, that prevents it from reacting with the cedarwood.
But it also has a few disadvantages. The biggest drawback is, that the coating can easily be damaged when you work with the fasteners. If you hit the fasteners with a hammer, accidentally scratch over it or damage the coating in any other way, then the protective coating is gone and the cedarwood has direct contact with the underlying steel.
The cedarwood will start to react with the regular steel and after a while black or dark blue spots will appear on the wood around the place, where the fasteners have contact with the wood.
And while you can get rid of these spots you still have to switch the fasteners out with proper ones, that don´t react with the cedarwood. Which can be quite a lot of work.
You can get rid of the black spots by treating the area with some oxalic acid solution.
As before, you can buy hot-dip galvanized fasteners in your local hardware store or right here on Amazon.
You should never use any other type of metal apart from zinc galvanized steel and stainless steel. Any other metal will react with the cedarwood and result in undesirable results.
Copper, for example, will actually disappear after a while. Cedarwood is notorious for “eating” copper. So copper screws, fasteners, and nails are not a great idea for fastening cedarwood.
Can You Use Regular Wood Screws With Cedarwood?
I would not recommend using anything but stainless steel or hot-dip galvanized fasteners on cedarwood.
Any other type of metal could simply be “eaten” by the wood or it could result in unsightly side effects.
A lot of other metals are also too soft to be used with cedarwood. Cedarwood moves a lot and it will deform any softer metals after a short while.
So while regular wood screws may work in the first few weeks they will quickly loosen after a while. At the latest when the temperature changes because that is when the cedarwood will start to contract.