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Colonial Living product FAQ
Please use this FAQ as a general guide.
If you need assistance, information or a customised product to suit your specific requirements, contact us for superior service,
9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
  1. Does Colonial Living use only Australian cedar?
  2. What are the advantages of using cedar in furniture?
  3. I've heard that cedar is soft and hence prone to dents etc...What can I do about that?
  4. Would the product tint change over time or if placed in direct sunlight? And do you provide a restoration service?
  5. Is Colonial Living the only company in Australia specialised in authentic recreations of furniture inspired by the Australian Colonial era?
  6. Can Colonial Living pieces be considered as collectible items?
  7. Tell me more about the Colonial Living collection.
  8. Tell me more about Australian red cedar - Formerly classified as Toona Australis
  9. Is Australian red cedar a true cedar?
  10. Is it possible to tell whether an early piece of red cedar furniture is made from Australian red cedar (Toona Australis) or red cedar from another country?
1. Does Colonial Living use only Australian red cedar?
Unfortunately, exploitation of this tree almost eliminated one of the great forest trees of Australia and is today banned from being logged in State forests. We use Asian cedar instead.
Once found from Sydney to North Queensland, Australian cedar is now a rare timber. A good tree can be seen growing in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. Australian red cedar, once flourishing in the Australian rainforests, was reported to reach a height of about 60m and a trunk diameter of 3m, although trees of this size would be exceptional.
It is a beautiful cabinet timber that early settlers fell in love with. A handsome dark red although some specimens are pink or even yellowish and darkens with age. Its growth rings are very prominent on back sawn boards. Not to mention its very distinctive pleasant smell.
   

2. What are the advantages of using cedar for furniture?
One of the most popular timbers used for living room or parlour furniture in early Australia was red cedar. While hoop pine and silky oak found their way into the kitchens and bedrooms of early Australian homes, the rich, deep colour of red cedar made it the preferred wood for all "rooms on show". Its abundance, reasonable price and workability also added to its appeal, and explains why it was used widely in homes from the days of the early settlement well into the 1900s.
In its natural, unfinished state, it has a richly textured, tactile grain combined with a palette of warm, mellow tones ranging from light amber to deep honey brown. No man-made material can duplicate the depth of cedar's natural luster.

Red cedar contains natural oils disguised as aromatic fragrance that act as preservatives to help the wood resist insect attack and decay (including moths.). That makes them ideally suited for making chests and drawers for chests and wardrobes.
Cedar is also a stable wood that lies flat and stays straight. For example, properly finished and maintained, it ages gracefully and endures for many years.

3. I've heard that cedar is soft and hence prone to dents etc...What can I do about that?
Classified as hardwood, Australian red cedar is fairly soft with medium weight, low shock resistance and stiffness. Generally it bruises easily. This is a common trait of cedar.
Take the cedar of Lebanon (Cerus libani) for example, it is quite soft and a little brittle, but when properly seasoned it is a strong and stable timber.


4. Would the product tint change over time or if placed in direct sunlight? And do you provide a restoration service?

Indeed all timber in direct sun will bleach. Also age, oxygen and light will oxydise it to a darker colour.
But rest assured. Colonial Living repairs and re-polish damaged Colonial Living pieces.

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5. Is Colonial Living the only company in Australia specialised in authentic recreations of furniture inspired by the Australian Colonial era?
We believe we are the only company making these pieces in this standard in Australia.

Each Colonial Living piece is an authentic replica, faithfully made by the same time-honoured methods as the originals. All our joints are mortised and tenoned; all of our drawers are dove-tailed, guaranteed for strength and durability. Every piece is made to order and bears the impressed stamp of Colonial Living.
Colonial Living furniture is meticulously polished in a seven stage process, involving polishing and grain highlighting, sanding and then protected by two coats of durable lacquer. We believe the finish is the true measure of a quality product. We offer the choice of Natural, which brings out the natural beauty of the Cedar, or Traditional, which enhances its richness. Either finish emphasises the beauty and warmth of the unique grain.

6. Can Colonial Living pieces be considered as collectible items?
Colonial Living pieces will be the antique of the future.
But seriously though. most original Australian Colonial pieces are now beyond the range of the average person.

Colonial Living furniture can only increase in value as it is passed from one generation of your family to the next. It is true to say that to invest in our furniture is to invest in the antiques of tomorrow, but it is also made for today. We know you will enjoy living with Australia's most prestigious furniture.

7. Tell me more about the Colonial Living collection.
A collection of reproduction Australian Colonial Furniture, crafted from Cedar or Toona Calantas. These are authentic recreations of antique pieces originally made by such master craftsmen as Joseph Sly, Andrew Lenehan, James Whitesides and later John Hill to name a few. This chapter in Australia's history (1840 - 1865) was the golden era in the art of cabinetmaking.

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8. Tell me more about Australian red cedar - Formerly classified as Toona Australis
This tree was once the pride of the coastal rainforests of eastern Australia, from the Shoalhaven River (south of Sydney) to Cape York. Also extending to Papua New Guinea, south-east Asia and as far as India.

Apart from the physical beauty and ease of working of the timber from this tree, the early settlers, with only axes at their disposal, would presumably have preferred to cut down a tree that was huge, soft, relatively easily transportable to market by bullock team than, say, a huge, hard to cut, heavy Rosewood tree. Exploitation of this tree unfortunately almost eliminated one of the great forest trees of Australia and is today banned from being logged in State forests. What the early timber-getters did achieve, though, was to open up the country for further settlement far quicker than the search for any other material, including gold.

Red Cedar needs a relatively dark environment in which to grow up in, such as its natural environment in a rainforest. When too much light falls on the tree, it is attacked by the "Red Cedar Tip Moth" which burrows its way along small branches eventually killing the branch. The vertical growth of the tree is then hindered as it grows new branches which in turn are attacked. The moth attacks Red Cedar trees in the rainforests too, but by the time it has broken through the rainforest canopy, it is a huge, mature tree and it can withstand the moth's attack. For this and other reasons it is almost impossible to grow it as a plantation tree, which is a pity, because the timber is worth a small fortune these days.

9. Is Australian red cedar a true cedar?
No it's not. The true cedars belong to the small genus Cedrus of the family Pinaceae (There are three 'true cedars', cedar of Lebanon, Cerus libani; Himalayan or Indian cedar, C. deodara; Atlantic or Atlas cedar, C. Atlantica. All from the pine family.)
Cedar is native to the Old World from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas (mountainous semi-desert regions), although several are cultivated elsewhere as ornamentals, especially the cedar of Lebanon ( C. libani ), which appears in the Lebanese flag. This tree, native to Asia Minor and North Africa, is famous for the historic groves of the Lebanon Mts., frequently mentioned in the Bible. The wood used in building the Temple and the house of Solomon (1 Kings 5, 6, and 7) may, however, have been that of the deodar cedar ( C. deodara ), native to the Himalayas. It has fragrant wood, durable and fine grained, and is venerated by the Hindus, who call it Tree of God.
The species has also been successfully introduced into some parts of Europe and North America.
All these true cedars yield wide boards, generally straight-grained and selectively knot free.
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10. Is it possible to tell whether an early piece of red cedar furniture is made from Australian red cedar (Toona Australis) or red cedar from another country?
Under the microscope there is no difference between NSW and India cedar according to Dr. Jenny Edmonds, Kew Botanic Gardens, UK. She found it impossible to distinguish botanical specimens of red cedar from Australia from those in other parts of its range.

In 1995, Dr. Edmonds completed the classification of Australian red cedar through Taxonomy of the genus Toona. Five species of Toona were recognised. Toona Citiata (of which our Toona Australis is included), Toona Sinensis, Toona Fargesii, Toona Surenii and possibly Toona Calantas which may be a large fruited variant of Toona Ciliata.
Toona Ciliata occurs in Australia, PNG South East Asia (peninsula Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh), South China, the Philippines, Indonesia, the India subcontinent (India and Pakistan).

This does not mean that a timber merchant couldn't recognise cedar grown under different conditions in different areas.
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