The Woodworkers Favourite, Australian Red cedar


Australian Red Cedar

flickr photo by denisbin shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

The Australian Red Cedar, known scientifically as Toona ciliata, is a significant tree species found primarily in Southeast Asia and Australia. It's a large rainforest tree, capable of reaching heights of 40-60 meters. Known for its valuable timber, the Australian Red Cedar is characterized by its softness, rich red colour, and straight to slightly interlocked grain. It has a distinctive cedar-like scent, which has been linked to traditional uses in furniture making and cabinetry. 

A Little Bit of History

The history of the Australian Red Cedar is deeply entwined with the colonial and economic development of Australia. It was first discovered near Parramatta and quickly became a valuable export due to its termite-resistant dark red timber. The tree's easy transportability along waterways facilitated its heavy logging, leading to near-commercial extinction by the early 20th century. It's a tree that has witnessed extensive use in building, joinery, furniture, and even boat building due to its durability and workability. 

Who Controls the Stocks?

The control of Australian Red Cedar stocks has evolved. Initially, there was rampant and unregulated logging, which led to a significant depletion of this resource. In response, regulations were implemented, and permissions were required for logging on public land. Today, the tree is protected, and its conservation status is one of concern, though it is not considered endangered. This shift from unregulated exploitation to controlled management and protection signifies a critical change in the approach towards this valuable natural resource. 

Is it Sustainable?

Sustainability is a major concern for the Australian Red Cedar, particularly in light of its history of over-exploitation. Now under protection, its logging is carefully regulated to prevent further decline and ensure the species' longevity. Importantly, most of the Australian Red Cedar timber used by our woodworkers at Australian Woodwork comes from recycled or salvaged wood. This practice not only helps in preserving the natural stocks of this precious tree but also aligns with our ethos of environmental responsibility and sustainable resource usage. The current conservation status of the tree and our commitment to using recycled and salvaged timber demonstrate a balanced approach to utilizing this resource for future generations. 

Current Uses of Australian Red Cedar

Today, the Australian Red Cedar continues to be highly valued, though its use is more controlled and sustainable. Its fine grain and rich colour make it a popular choice for furniture making and cabinetry. The wood is also utilized in culturing shiitake mushrooms, a testament to its versatility. Additionally, recognizing its historical significance and unique qualities, the Australian Red Cedar is employed in the creation of small artifacts, homewares, souvenirs, and creative woodcraft. We at Australian Woodwork proudly offer a varied selection of these items, showcasing the beauty and utility of this remarkable timber. Our range demonstrates both our commitment to preserving this natural heritage and our dedication to offering high-quality, sustainably sourced wood products.


The Australian Red Cedar's journey from being a heavily exploited resource to a protected species highlights the importance of sustainable practices in forestry and natural resource management. It remains a symbol of both the rich natural heritage and the conservation challenges faced in Australia.

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