All Species

All Species

NameDetailsOther NamesApplicationsWorkabilityMain Color GroupTags
Ziricote
Ziricote

Ziricote is one of the most popular, visually striking exotic woods in the world. Renown for its “landscape” or “spiderweb” grain patterns, its colors range from medium to dark shades of brown (occasionally with either a green or purplish tint), and are accentuated by intermingled bands of unpredictable, irregular black growth rings. Sapwood is easily distinguishable by its dull off-white to pale yellow hue.

Although it is a fairly dense wood, its typical straight (though sometimes slightly interlocked) grains and fine to medium-fine texture give it cooperative working properties — as it cuts, turns, glues and finishes smoothly.

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Sustainability: Not currently listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. That said, given the recent poaching epidemic taking place in Mexico over the last several years, this status — as well as other Mexican woods, such as Bocote, Camatillo and Katalox — could be changing in the very near future.

Common Uses: Furniture, veneer, cabinetry, flooring / parquee flooring, gunstocks, musical instruments (in particular, guitars), entrance doors, turnings, decorative beams, trim and small specialty items.

Comments: Ziricote is a close relative (and neighbor) of Bocote, with both being Central American woods of the Cordia genus. Its radical, often-dramatic grain patterns have given the wood somewhat of an ‘elite’ status among international exotic woods enthusiasts. It truly is an oddly unique — ‘exotic’ in the truest sense — wood with an allure and mystique all its own.

While it has never been an inexpensive wood, recent revelations of epidemic poaching across Mexico has resulted in a greatly reduced supply and sharp price increases on wholesale and retails levels. Unless action is taken to stem the tide (of poaching), Ziricote and other Central American woods could very well be the subject of actions from CITES in the very near future.

Interestingly, the bark of the Cordia Dodecandra tree and the wood have medicinal properties: the tea which is derived from their infusion is used in traditional medicine in Mexico, to treat coughs, diarrhea and dysentery.

view >>Ciricote, Siricote, ZiricoteMediumDark Brownno-stock
Zebrano
Zebrano

Zebrawood is a tough, durable, visually striking West African wood whose heartwood base color — which can range from tan to a dull pale yellow, to a muted off-white / almost gray hue, depending on specific region and consitions of growth — is decorated by dark brown striping of varying degrees (ranging to almost black), hince its name. The striping is typically long and fairly uniform when the wood is quartersawn, but wavy and irradic when flatsawn. Sapwood is easily distinguishable (by its lack of striping, naturally) and is usually a light, pale white color.

Its coarse, open-poured texture combined with its wavy and/or interlocked grain patterns can make planing a challenge. (… as well as finishing, if filling all surface pores is requisite.) For any sort of resawing or surfacing, blades and cutting tools should be at their sharpest to minimize tearout. The wood glues well and usually possesses a pleasant, moderate to high luster, which can make for impressive finishing.

While its demand is based almost exclusively on its aesthetic appeal, Zebrawood is a strong, stiff lumber, once dry.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: High-end furniture, veneer, musical instruments (in particular, guitars), skis, handles, and turned objects.

Comments: While flatsawing the lumber can yield some quite dramatic aesthetic results, quartersawn lumber provides maximum (and sometimes much needed) stability. The species is known to be difficult to dry, with pieces sometimes warping during the kiln drying process. Tiny pockets of small void areas, also, are not uncommon along the darker striped areas — especially among flatsawn boards.

Zebrawood’s trademark aesthetics have made it very popular with veneer mills around the world. However, great care is required when handling, to avoid it cracking.

The wood’s popularity keeps it in steady demand, which makes it moderately expensive in spite of a generally steady supply in the US.

view >>ZebrawoodChallengingVariegatedstock
Yellowwood
Yellowwood

Yellowwood is an even-grained, lightweight South African wood that has been used historically for hundreds of years, and a variety of purposes. It was extensively used in railway sleepers, as well as in multiple phases of construction. Its tough, durable nature saw it used as an exterior wood in the region. (It is still very popular throughout Southern Africa for indoor carpentry and floors, as it is also dimensionally stable.) The heartwood is pale yellowish brown, and not easy to distinguish from the sapwood; reddish streaks are sometimes present (in the heart). Grains are typically straight, though occasionally wavy; its texture is fine and consistent, with a nice natural luster.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is classified as a species of “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: The Podocarpus Latifolius tree is a slow-growing evergreen tree. It thrives in a moist forest environment, where it will reach maturity at approx. 100 feet. Conversely, trees grown in isolated, drier areas, tend to have their growth severely stunted.

Yellowwood is a wood of cultural significance across Southern Africa; it is the national tree of South Africa. It was used extensively for the floors and ceilings in numerous older houses throughout South Africa. Its huge popularity and wide range of uses / applications has led it to become overharvested over portions of its natural habitat (on the verge of extinction in some areas); all species of the Podocarpus genus are protected from harvesting in South Africa.

view >>Umkhomba, UmsontiEasyYellow / Whiteno-stock
Yellowheart
Yellowheart

Yellowheart is a neo-satine wood whose color can range from pale yellow to bright yellow to varying shades of gold. Sapwood is lighter and pale, but not always easily discerned from pale-colored heartwood. Its grains are typically straight, but can also by wavy and/or interlocked. Its typically fine (sometimes medium or in between), consistent texture takes on a luxurious look, revealing a deep natural luster, when sanded.

As far as working characteristics are concerned, Yellowheart is generally very cooperative for a fairly dense and durable wood. (Although sharp blades may be necessary with some interlocked-grain boards.) It glues and finishes very well. The wood holds its color well: slowly darkening, to a degree, as it ages, often giving it an even more striking appearance.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring / parquee flooring, furniture, cabinetry, millwork, veneer, musical instruments (guitars, in particular), inlay, boatbuilding, handles / stocks, trim, accents, carvings and turnings.

Comments: Yellowheart is an important commercial lumber in Brazil. Although US importation has been sproadic, so has its demand. Thus, Yellowheart remains a moderately priced, readily available option for wood craftsmen.

Premium-grade examples have a dramatically figured, two-toned satiny look, with a deep chatoyance. Although it is not considered to be one, such premium-grade specimens can look as luxurious and velvety as of the true satine woods

view >>Yellowheart; Brazilian Satinwood; Pau Amarello; Amarello; Pau SetimEasyYellow / Whiteno-stock
Wenge
Wenge

Wenge is unique among the world’s exotic woods. This tough tropical wood’s distinctive deep chocolate color — which can sometimes augmented by muted gold, orange, red or even burgundy tint — is actually known as “Wenge” in the color spectrum nomenclature of various parts of the world (with paint manufacturers, etc.). Its grains are generally straight (though sometimes wavy or irregular) and are accenuated by overlapping black lines which typically decorate the board’s surface.

While being considered a strong, durable wood, Wenge’s course, rugged texture makes it very splintery — making some craftsmen hesitant to use it. It can be difficult to work, although is glues well and is considered a very dimensionally stable species.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring / parque flooring, paneling, veneer, musical instruments (in particular, guitar), furniture, cabinets, archery bows, walking canes, handles, ornaments, laminates and segmented woodturnings.

Comments: Exercise caution when working with this wood. Its splinters can be like little razors and when one pentetrates the skin, it is quite painful and the area can quickly and easily get infected, if quick action isn’t taken to remove it (the splinter) and sterilize the area.

Although most sources consider Wenge to be a dull wood with poor natural luster, our experience has revealed that a deep, glossy luster can sometimes emerge through fine-grit sanding of flatsawn boards. Its combination of relatively light weight, rot & insect resistance and impressive tensil strength has yielded the wood to a variety of indoor and outdoor uses, being particularly well suited for flooring in heavy traffic areas.

view >>Dikela, WengeMediumDark Brownstock, Wenge
Walnut - American
Walnut - American

Black Walnut has long been considered one of the US’s most durable hardwoods, and one of its most popular. Prized for its typically deep chocolate color (often highlighted by red or purple streaks and/or tint), straight grains (though sometimes irregular), fine texture and warm luster, the wood has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio and is considered to have solid dimensionally stablity after drying. Its cooperative grain structure and moderate density give Black Walnut excellent working properties, which have made it coveted by fine furniture craftsmen for centuries.

While there remains a robust domestic supply, the demand for this wood also remains constant. It is considered a premium domestic hardwood.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, gunstocks, interior paneling, interior trim, musical instruments, veneer, turnings, and small specialty items.

Comments: Black Walnut’s immense popularity among American woodworkers cannot be overstated. Aside from its rugged, handsome looks — which lend it well to furniture and cabinet building — it is durable, stable and has excellent shock resistance, making it an ideal choice for such applications.

Walnut trees are known to grow in regions within close proximity to rivers and other bodies of water — primarily in the eastern part of the US, but stretching into the central part of the country, as well as into southern Canada (Ontario). Trees have proven of historical economic significance, as much for the walnuts they produce as for their coveted lumber — a wood which, unfortunately, has provided an attractive target to domestic poachers.

view >>American Walnut, Black Walnut, WalnutEasyDark Brownno-stock
Walnut - African
Walnut - African

African Walnut is derived from the Lovoa Trichilioides tree — a monoecious, evergreen that is indigenous to Central and Southern Africa’s tropical regions. Its heartwood color can vary anywhere from a golden brown to a reddish brown, often with darker streaks and/or portions. Over time, its color will darken to deeper brown tones. The sapwood is narrow, grey to beige in color, and clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Despite it not being a true walnut (of the Juglans genus), it shares many of the basic characteristics.

African Walnut’s grains are typically straight or slightly interlocked — yielding good working properties — with a fine to medium, consistent texture and a fine natural luster. Finding figured pieces is not uncommon. It turns, glues and finishes well. The wood is considered moderately durable.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, joinery, veneer, decorative trim, plywood, paneling, ship building, fixtures, flooring, pianos, gunstocks, turnings, carvings, fuelwood and utility applications.

Comments: Despite its nickname, African Walnut is more closely related to mahoganies (being a member of the Meliaceae family) than true walnuts. When quartersawn, the wood can display a long, horizontal stripe figuring and chatoyance that is similar to Sapele.

In spite of its fairly cooperative working properties, sharp cutting tools and blades are recommended to avoid the tearout which can occur with pieces featuring a more interlocking grain pattern.

The wood is sometimes available in the US as precut flooring, although lumber is not too commonly found — due, in part, to being overly exploited in a significant portion of its natural range.

view >>African Walnut, Congowood, Dibetou, Tigerwood, Uganda WalnutEasyDark Brownno-stock
Tulipwood
Tulipwood

Tulipwood is one of the most coveted and seldom-seen of all (Dalbergia genus) rosewood species. The trees are very small in stature, thus, obtaining long, wide boards is quite rare — and, when found undefective, sell at a premium. It is much more commonly found in smaller, craft-sized pieces. Finding any available boards in widths of 5″ or more is uncommon.

Its heartwood is cream to salmon colored, highlighted by striping which can be any combination of red, violet, purple, pink and rose hues. The sapwood is pale yellow to a very pale yellowish white. Heartwood color gradually fades with continued UV ray exposure.

Tulipwood is typically straight-grained, although grains can also be wavy or (infrequently) irregular. The wood has a high natural oil content and is quite dense, which makes working it an often-difficult prospect. Despite being rather grainy and pourous, it sands very smooth, revealing a pleasing natural luster.

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Sustainability: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II, but not yet on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, inlay work, marquetry, turnery, bandings, jewelry boxes, archery bows, pool cues, various musical instrument applications and small specialty items. Rarely (but occasionally) seen in furniture, also.

Comments: There is some confusion surrounding this wood, as many have confused it with Tulip Poplar (which is indigenous to North America). It has also been misidentified as also originating from the Dalbergia Frutescens tree by many sources / authorities, after originally being miscategorized as a non-Dalbergia (“Physocalymma Scaberrima”).

Finding any sizable boards is pretty rare in the US, especially ones without some sort of significant defect. Its supply is inconsistent, at best, due not only to the very small tree size, but also to a very limited natural range (exclusive to Northeastern Brazil).

view >>Brazilian Tulipwood, Jacaranda Rosa, Pau de Fuso, Pinkwood, TulipwoodMediumPinkstock, Tulipwood
Teak - Zambezi
Teak - Zambezi

While not a true (Tectona genus) teak, Rhodesian Teak shares a similar stability, durability and rot resistance. The heartwood is a reddish-brown color, with prominent, irregular black lines and flecks. The sapwood is a pale muted pink and is clearly demarcated. In contrast to its “Genuine” counterpart, Rhodesian Teak is an extremely dense hardwood. Despite its generally straight or slightly interlocked, finely-textured grains, this density makes the wood very difficult to work.

The wood has a high silica content, as well — so resawing the wood can quickly dull and gum up blades.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring, veneer, millwork, stringed instrument fingerboards, carvings, turned objects and small specialty items.

Comments: Because of its tannin content, moist wood will stain when in contact with iron.

The wood has seen recent fluxuations in supply, as part of it natural range (in Southern Africa) has been decimated. That said, the wood is reputed to flourish under difficult growing conditions, so supplies are still accessible.

Rhodesian Teak has a low shrinkage rate and is considered to be a solid, dimensionally stable wood, when dry.

view >>African Teak, Mukusi, Rhodesian Teak, Zimbabwe TeakMediumReddishno-stock
Teak - Burmese
Teak - Burmese

Genuine Teak is one of the world’s most well-known and coveted woods. Its heartwood is light-medium to medium brown, with a tint that can range from muted gold to a pale red. (Its color darkens as it ages.) Sapwood colors are a pale white, off-white or a pale yellowish brown. But it is the wood’s great toughness, rot resistance and durability — versus some rather bland aesthetics — which make it so popular.

Its grains are typically straight (although sometimes wavy, or even interlocked) with a high natual oil content. This generally makes for favorable working characteristics, although the wood does possess a high silica content.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Ship decking, boat building, veneer, flooring, furniture, exterior construction, docks, bridges, carvings, turnings, and other small wood objects.

Comments: Despite an abundant supply — originating from both a wide natural range and a plethora of plantations scattered around the world — Teak remains in constant demand and, thus, has a rather stout price. (… in spite of being an unfigured wood noted for its generally forgettable aesthetic qualities.)

Teak has always done well in aquatic environments — used in boats and ships, as well as docks, bridges and marinas — as it is resistant to shipworm: a wood-boring sea mollusk. Teak’s sawdust contains naturally occurring organic compounds (called “quinones”) that inhibit the growth of the fungi which cause wood rot.

view >>Burmese Teak, Genuine Teak, TeakEasyMedium Brownno-stock
Tamboti
Tamboti

Tamboti is a beautiful African hardwood which is derived from the Spirostachys Africana tree — a medium-sized, semi-deciduous to deciduous, fruit producing tree. The heartwood is brown to dark brown, with darker markings and streaks, clearly demarcated from the whitish to pale yellow sapwood. Its grains are usually straight to slightly wavy, with a fine, even texture. The wood has a beautiful banded figure and a satin-like lustre, with an oily surface. Known for its durability, dimensional stability and exceptional rot and insect resistance, Tamboti is a hard, heavy wood — and one which remains in steady demand throughout regions of its natural range, despite its somewhat challenging working properties.

Between the tree’s natural oils and latex production, resawing the wood tends to gum up saw blades. Difficulties aside, the wood turns and finishes well, and its density and pleasant aesthetics make it popular with wood carvers, as well.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is reported by the IUCN as being “data deficient.” Due to a recent history of exploitation, exporting has been restricted and is closely monitored in India and Sri Lanka.

Common Uses: Decorative joinery, furniture, cabinetry, construction posts & beams, flooring, shipbuilding, musical instruments, carvings, turnings, small specialty items and fuelwood (although the fumes can be toxic).

Comments: The tree is known for its toxic milky latex, that exudes from all parts of it. Its bark, roots and the latex have been utilized for centuries in concoctions used to treat a variety of medical issues. Despite its great popularity throughout southern Africa, its sawdust can be quite harmful to the eyes (even being reputed to cause blindness, in extreme cases of repeated exposure).

Tamboti emits a fragrant, spicy smell when worked, and the smell can actually persist for years.

view >>African Sandalwood, Cape Sandalwood, Tambootie, TambotiMediumDark Brownno-stock
Sycamore - French
Sycamore - French

Like all other members of the true maple genus (Acer), European Sycamore is a hardwood whose sapwood is greatly preferred and sought after, versus its heartwood. It sap can vary from an almost pure white to a light cream color with tinting ranging from a golden yellow to a muted red; heartwood is generally medium to dark reddish-brown colored. Grains are generally straight, but can be wavy. Combined with its fine texture, it is easy to work (although, like all maples, it can burn easily) — turning, gluing and finishing well, with a good natural luster. Not unlike its Acer-genus counterparts, pieces can sometimes be dramatically figured.

Boards are typical found quartersawn, as European Sycamore is the lumber renowned for its preferential, and historical, use as a body wood for stringed orchestral instruments (violins, violas, etc.), possessing superb resonance qualities and full-spectrum frequency response at a very moderate weight.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, musical instruments (specifically orchestral stringed-instrument bodies), architectural millwork, furniture, cabinetry, joinery, wood flooring and parquetry, utility wood, turnings and small specialty items.

Comments: The Acer Pseudoplatanus tree has seen wide naturalization not only due to the wood’s highly desirable status as a tonewood, but, more generally, because of its wide natural canopy — making it ideally suited for use as a shade tree in public parks, bordering public streets and roads, on private residences and other such locations. Its seeds easily germinate and take root, so the tree has wound up becoming labeled an “invasive species,” “environmental weed” or “nuisance” in numerous areas scattered across both its indigenous and naturalized regions.

As the wood ages, it typically does so by gravitating toward a more golden brown appearance. European Sycamore is a non-durable wood, so it is not well-suited for outdoor applications; some sort of tough, durable finish for products crafted from this wood is recommended.

Lumber is also commonly utilized in Europe for architectural millwork, where the more white-colored boards are frequently used and highly coveted.

view >>European Sycamore, French SycamoreEasyYellow / Whiteno-stock
Stinkwood
Stinkwood

Black Stinkwood has long been popular for use in fine furniture building in South Africa (where it is indigenous), due to its fine, tight, typically straight grains and a resolute durability that is often compared to Teak. It’s heartwood color can vary from almost black to dark brown, to more medium brown tones with a reddish tint; the sap is easily distinguished by its contrasting pale yellow coloration. Despite its inherent density, Stinkwood possesses very cooperative working properties. It has beautiful finishing characteristics and a rich natural luster.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, although the species has been classified as a “Protected Tree” in South Africa.

Common Uses: Fine furniture, cabinetry, doors, decorative trim and gun stocks.

Comments: Despite its humorous name — given for the horrid smell the trees put off when first cut — Stinkwood has remained a tremendously popular wood with South African fine furniture craftsmen, cabinet makers and gunsmiths, alike.

The bark of the Ocotea Bullata tree has medicinal properties which, combined with the immense popularity of the tree’s timber in South Africa, has led to the species being effectively extinct in a number of scattered areas throughout its (original) natural range; the bark stripping has fatal consequences for the tree.

view >>Black Stinkwood, Cape WalnutMediumDark Brownno-stock
Spruce - Englemann
Spruce - Englemann

Engelmann Spruce is typically a high-altitude mountain evergreen tree, indigenous to the mountainous regions of western North America, with scattered, isolated distribution in surrounding lower-level areas. The wood is prized among many acoustic guitar luthiers, for its superior resonance and tonal response qualities when used as a soundboard (acoustic guitar top). Its color can range from a light off-white to cream.

It is straight grained and has a fine, consistent texture, which makes it generally easy to work — although common-grade pieces may contain numerous small knots, and the wood can be difficult to stain. Its excellent stiffness-to-weight ratio has made it historically useful in a variety of construction and utility applications, benefited, also, by a virtually limitless domestic supply.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being “a species of least concern.”

Common Uses: Acoustic guitar soundboards, harps, violins and pianos, construction lumber, sheathing, railroad ties, wood pulp / papermaking and also used in the Western US as Christmas trees.

Comments: Although Engelmann Spruce is a fairly cheap, easily accessible lumber, clear instrument-grade, quartersawn billets can be very pricey — as small knots are quite common in the species, and such coveted clear pieces typically are derived from undisturbed specimens grown at higher altitudes.

While Sitka Spruce remains a more heavily utilized wood for such acoustic guitar soundboard applications (being slightly stronger and heavier than Engelmann), there are a number of discriminating guitar builders who covet Engelmann. (By comparison, Sitka Spruce trees are far more massive in stature.) Due to this unique demand, premium-grade billets can command prices comparable with any of the most expensive domestic wood species.

view >>Engelmann Spruce, Mountain Spruce, Silver Spruce, White SpruceEasyYellow / Whiteno-stock
Sneezewood
Sneezewood

Ptaeroxylon Obliquum, from which Sneezewood is derived, is a deciduous evergreen tree or shrub. The lumber it yields has a heartwood which is generally comprised of light to medium golden brown hues (although the brownish hues can sometimes be dark, toward the tree’s center). Grains are generally either straight or wavy, although they can be interlocked. The wood is quite dense, which makes it somewhat difficult to work, but renders excellent dimensional stability when dried.

It turns and finishes well, although gluing can be problematic, due to the natural oil content of the wood.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Construction, railway cars, bearings, furniture, musical instruments, fuel wood, utility wood, carvings, turnings and small specialty items.

Comments: Sneezewood is considered to be one of the most durable, bug and rot resistant woods in the world, having been classified as “Imperishable” in its native South Africa. The wood has been found to outlast both iron and brass when you as machinery bearings. Part of the wood’s status of being little known in the western world is due to its great strength, stability and durability; for centuries, it has been utilized in a variety of functional roles in south / southwest Africa.

view >>Nieshout, SneezewoodMediumMedium Brownno-stock
Snakewood
Snakewood
view >>Amourette, Letterwood, SnakewoodChallengingVariegated
Sipo
Sipo

Sipo Mahogany (commonly referred to as either just “Sipo” or “Utile”) is an African wood that is considered to be the closest, aesthetically, to Genuine Mahogany (although not a true “Swietenia”). It’s interlocked grains are akin to other African woods and generally produce a characteristic contrasting light-dark / two-toned sort of appearance, when quartersawn — which can be visually stunning in the case of more chatoyant boards. The fact that the wood is considerably easier to work, with less tearout, than African Mahogany and possesses a hardness that places Sipo between it (African Mahogany) and Genuine Mahogany has seen it transcend from relative obscurity to become a quite popular and highly regarded “mahogany substitute” wood, presently.

Aesthetically, the wood is similar, also, to its African first cousin, Sapele (with both being species of the Entandrophragma genus) — although Sipo is more pourous, and has richer color.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is categorized as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, turned objects, veneers, musical instruments, boatbuilding, and carving.

Comments: Sipo makes a really great mahogany substitute, with nice color and stunning aesthetics, when quartersawn. Like many such woods, it can become discolored when left in contact with iron and other metals. When combined with its very modest price range, its continually growing popularity as such (mahogany substitute) is easy to understand.

view >>SipoEasyReddishno-stock
Satinwood - East Indian
Satinwood - East Indian

East Indian (or Ceylon Satinwood) Satinwood is a truly exquisite tropical hardwood. Its heartwood ranges from light to medium golden yellow, typically. Sapwood generally is white / off white and paler than the heartwood, though not always clearly demarcated. Premium-grade examples can be seen with a mottled or rippled grain pattern — resembling ripples in satin fabric, and, thus, lending to its name “Satinwood;” such examples may possess a chatoyance ranging from subtle to the dramatic.

Grains can be straight, but are more typically interlocked. Although — due to its density, hardness and generally interlocked grains — it can be difficult to work, it turns, glues and finishes superbly; featuring a smooth, luxurious texture and a shimmering natural luster.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices, but categorized as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, fine furniture, inlay, musical instruments, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.

Comments: In comparison with other exotic woods, Ceylon Satinwood has remained in short supply to the US market. Its exportation from the region remains restricted. That said, this is actually of little concern to the tree farmers of East India, as the wood is highly coveted throughout the Indian Plate portion of Southern Asia.

Finding long boards of it can be most difficult; pieces of craft-sized dimensions are more commonly found in the US. Other than the supply issue, a root cause for this is the fact that trees reach full maturity at a height of only 40 to 50 feet, with miniscule trunk diameters of just 1 to 1-1/2 feet. Long boards are always in short supply and sell at a premium, when found.

view >>Ceylon Satinwood, SatinwoodChallengingYellow / WhiteSatinwood - East Indian, stock
Sassafras
Sassafras

The Sassafras genus is renowned for and distinguished by its aromatic properties. Its typically straight grains and coarse texture bear patterns which resemble Ash; and its generally tan to light brown coloration makes its appearance easy to mistake it as such, though sometimes tints ranging from pale orange to olive green can be present. Despite its relatively light dried weight (31 lbs/ft3 / 495 kg/m3), once dry it is considered to be dimensionally stable, with excellent durability and easy working properties.

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Sustainability: Not currently listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, utility lumber, boatbuilding and turnings.

Comments: Given the trees’ small profile, Sassafras is better known for the oil derived from its root bark and fruit than for the lumber it yields. Since never viewed as a commercially viable timber — despite being indigenous to the US — boards and even craft- and turning-sized pieces are not that commonly offered here.

view >>Fenchelholz, Fennel Wood, Red Sassafras, Sassafras, Silky Sassafras, White SassafrasChallengingMedium Brownno-stock
Rosewood - Vietnamese
Rosewood - Vietnamese

Siamese Rosewood, a.k.a. Vietnamese Rosewood, is one of the most dense, dimensionally stable rosewoods. The wood is derived from large evergreen trees which grow in open, semi-deciduous forests. It’s primary heartwood colors are typically confined to varying brown hues, although secondary colors of red, orange and yellows are commonly present. (Sap is a pale yellow, and easily distinguished.) Its pores are very small by rosewood standards; it sands smooth and finishes beautifully, with a wonderful natural luster. It is typically straight grained, although grains are occasionally interlocked. It is considered to be one of the most dense, stable and durable of all rosewoods.

Because of these properties, Siamese Rosewood has remained extremely popular with Chinese furniture builders — and which has also made it, for many years, a popular target for poachers. This has led to its current ‘near extinction’ status.

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Sustainability: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II, and is categorized as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban.

Common Uses: Veneer; fine furniture; carvings; musical instruments; cabinetry and other interior applications; turning; small specialty items.

Comments: Wikipedia had this to say with regard to Dalbergia Cochichinensis:

“Siamese rosewood is denser than water, fine grained, and high in oils and resins. These properties make the wood dimensionally stable, hard wearing, rot and insect resistant, and when new, highly fragrant. The density and toughness of the wood also allows furniture to be built without the use of glue and nails, but rather constructed from jointery and doweling alone.”

Unfortunately, it has been the demise of this species at the hands of regional neighbors, China, which has placed it on the verge of extinction and is its tragic modern legacy. The incredible demand for it in this new millennium was accelerated prior to the 2008 Olympic games, in Beijing, and continued with the new construction boom the country has experienced.

view >>Cambodian Rosewood, Phayung, Siamese Rosewood, Thai Rosewood, Tracwood, Vietnamese RosewoodMediumDark Brownno-stock
Rosewood - Santos
Rosewood - Santos

There are actually two different types of wood which are known as Pau Ferro: the most common one is also known as Bolivian Rosewood, and Morado; the other one is significantly more dense (generally around 50% more), and is known also as Brazilian Ironwood and Brazilwood. The vast majority of what os made available in the US is former of the two — the less dense variety. The wood earned its “… Rosewood” nicknames (by which it is commonly known) because its colors and density are similar, which its medium brown base typically augmented by black streaks or grain lines, and sometimes even purple, tan and golden secondary hues, and sometimes a purplish tint, overall. Although it can have varying grains, straight-grained pieces are generally very easy to work, and the wood turns smoothly and finishes well. It is considered quite durable, although it can be subject to insect attack.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, musical instruments (in particular, guitars — both electric and acoustic), furniture, cabinetry, flooring, interior trim, turnings, and other small specialty wood objects.

Comments: Pau Ferro is a popular Brazilian Rosewood substitute and is thought to be about as similar in properties to rosewood as any non-Dalbergia-genus species possibly could be. Its grains are tighter than a typical rosewood specimen, and it is thought to have a more distinctly percussive taptone than that of Brazilian. It’s tonal response is said to have tight lows, present mids and a clear, singing high end response.

Despite the comparisons, it should be noted that the (much more prevalent) Machaerium-genus species of Pau Ferro has less density, hardness and weight than an average rosewood.

view >>Bolivian Rosewood, Brazilian Ironwood, Brazilwood, Caviuna, Morado, Palo Santo, Pau Ferro, Santos RosewoodMediumReddish Brownno-stock
Rosewood - Nicaraguan
Rosewood - Nicaraguan

Nicaraguan Rosewood — also known as Yucatan Rosewood, or Panama Rosewood — is the least dense, hard and heavy of all the Dalbergia species. Its heartwood can vary from a pale yellow-brown, to tan, to varying shades of brown (both light and dark); sapwood is pale yellow and clearly demarcated. Grains are generally straight, but can be wavy or interlocked; its texture ranges from fine to medium, with large, open pores. Its moderate luster is in keeping with its reputation of being aesthetically bland, although darker accents and occasional figuring are sometimes present.

Despite being significantly less stout than all of its true rosewood cousins, the wood is surprisingly durable. It is less oily, also, which adds up to some generally very cooperative working, turning, gluing and finishing properties.

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Sustainability: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II, but is not listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban.

Common Uses: Turned objects, musical instruments, furniture, and small specialty wood objects.

Comments: The density, hardness and weight of this species can vary greatly, depending on the specific region and conditions of its growth.

There has been some confusion and controversy surrounding its scientific name, as it is commonly referred to as “Dalbergia Yucatensis.”

view >>Nicaraguan Rosewood, Panama Rosewood, Yucatan RosewoodMediumReddish Brownno-stock
Rosewood - Madagascan
Rosewood - Madagascan

Madagascar Rosewood is a very popular wood with both acoustic and electric guitar luthiers (especially the former), as well as furniture craftsmen, despite being a wood that has been difficult to acquire in the US for the bulk of this new millennium. Depending on the specific species, heartwood colors can range anywhere from a pale yellowish-brown to orangish-red to deep burgundy to a chocolate brown, typically highlighted by bold black ink lines and secondary hues. Its straight grains and medium texture generally make for excellent working properties, despite its considerable hardness and density; its cuts, turns and finishes beautifully, with a nice natural luster.

The wood typically has a high natural oil content, which can make gluing challenging.

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Sustainability: Listed in CITES Appendix II, and reported as “Vulnerable” to “Near Threatened” (depending on specific species) by the IUCN; part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban.

Common Uses: Veneer, musical instruments, boats and shipbuilding, furniture, cabinetry, trim work, flooring, inlays, carving, turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: There are four distinctly different Dalbergia species which are all commonly called “Madagascar Rosewood.” Back in the 1990’s, wood poaching on the African island of Madagascar reached epidemic proportions. Logging and exportation of the wood was banned, in response, in 2000, but was lifted in 2012, in the aftermath of major political upheaval in 2009. Madagascar Rosewood’s exportation was once again banned in 2015, but between an unwaivering demand for the lumber and continuing poverty throughout the region, the illegal logging trade has continued (despite bans).

view >>Rosewood - MadagascanMediumVariegatedno-stock
Rosewood - East Indian
Rosewood - East Indian

East Indian Rosewood can vary greatly in color, although its base color is most always brown; the shades can range from golden brown, to purplish or dark reddish brown. Secondary colors are often present. The wood’s colors will darken with continued UV exposure. EI Rw is generally less dense than most other rosewoods. Its grains are typically interlocked (although they can be irregular or straight), which can make it difficult to work. Care must be taken when finishing the wood, as it is not uncommon for the wood’s natural resins to impose if it is not first sealed. It has a medium texture.

Since the exportation ban on Brazilian Rosewood, more than twenty years ago, it has become a popular substitute with corporate guitar manufacturers (electric and acoustic, alike) — due in large part to its historically steady supply and relatively low cost (compared with other Dalbergia’s). By comparison to Braz Rw, its pores are smaller; but it is also a very durable wood, that’s not overly susceptible to bug damage / infestation and is considered stable after drying.

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Sustainability: Listed in CITES Appendix II — part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban — and is classified as “Vulenerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Musical instruments (in particular, acoustic & electric guitars), furniture, cabinetry, veneer, structural paneling, turnings and specialty wood objects.

Comments: Most relevant, from our perspective, is the fact the many people refer to this wood as “Indian Rosewood,” which is inaccurate; Sissoo (Dalbergia Sissoo) is also known through its natural region as “Indian Rosewood.”

Also worth mentioning is Sonokeling: a true Dalbergia indigenous to Indonesia — where it is also known as “Jacaranda.” Many sources consider this wood and East Indian Rosewood to be of the same species (Dalbergia Latifolia), however tree farmers in Indonesia are not in agreement with this assessment. Our research into Indonesia and the cultivation of rosewood trees there revealed that back in the 1700’s, while the Indonesian islands were considered a colony of Holland, Dutch merchant colonists transplanted two major Dalbergia’s to Indonesia: Dalbergia Nigra (Brazilian Rosewood), from Brazil, and; Dalbergia Sissoo (Indian Rosewood), from India.

We view Indonesian Rosewood as a completely different species of Dalbergia, and see the topic as certainly worthy of further botanical investigation.

view >>East Indian Rosewood, Indian RosewoodEasyVariegatedstock
Rosewood - Honduras
Rosewood - Honduras

Denser than East Indian Rosewood, Honduran Rosewood is well known for being the preferred wood for Marimba bars, with its ringing, well-rounded tonal properties. It compares well to Brazilian Rosewood (many claim it actually superior), producing a well-balanced acoustic guitar, with great projection and strong lows and highs. (In fact, during the ’50?s and ’60?s, the great flamenco guitar crafters considered it to be the only acceptable substitute to Brazilian Rosewood.)

Honduran Rosewood’s grain lines are unusually tight and straight (though sometimes wavy or interlocked). The color ranges from a medium tan to a brownish brick red color, medium brown (sometimes with a purplish tint) or even a medium to dark burgundy, with occasional dark brown or black ink lines. Due to the wood’s density and high oil content, it can be difficult to cut, machine and glue. Its texture can range from fine to medium; (not unlike Braz Rw) it is porous, and those pores are usually medium- to large-sized. As would be expected — given its oily nature — the wood has a rich natural luster.

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Sustainability: Listed in CITES Appendix II, but not on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban.

Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, veneer, musical instruments (fingerboards for banjos, guitars, mandolins,etc., percussion bars for xylophones, marimbas, etc.), harp bodies, moldings, picture frames, turnings and small specialty objects.

Comments: Honduran Rosewood has grown difficult to obtain in recent years, due to a poaching epidemic in Belize which victimized the species in 2011 and 2012. Despite a wane in its supply lines, demand for the wood remains constant.

Every major source we could find were unanimous in listing “2200 lbf” as the Janka Hardness rating for this wood, but we consider this figure to be very suspect. Most knowledgeable sources compare its weight and density to Brazilian Rosewood. The same sources list Bocote’s Janka Hardness at 2200 lbf, also, and the Hon Rw examples we have handled are far more dense than any Bocote. (Some darker examples were more along the lines of a Cocobolo-type density.)

view >>Honduran Rosewood, Honduras RosewoodChallengingLight Brownno-stock
Rosewood - African
Rosewood - African

African Rosewood is a species from the same genus as Bubinga (Guibourtia), which has led to Bubinga often mistakenly being referred to as “African Rosewood.” Though obviously not a true rosewood, it does often bear aesthetic similarities. The grain is generally straight but can be interlocked; its texture is moderately fine. The heartwood color ranges from pink to reddish-brown, with purple or red streaks / lines / highlights.

African Rosewood works well, although it can have a moderate blunting effect on tools. It glues and finishes well. It needs to be dried slowly and carefully, to prevent warping and cracking. It’s a durable wood and is considered stable, once dried.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, flooring, decking, architectural paneling & woodwork, veneer, interior trim, musical instruments, boatbuilding, turnings, small decorative and specialty items.

Comments: This wood has been used for a huge variety of roles in its native Africa. The tree, itself, and its budding flowers have been used for everything from cooking oils, to nutrional / healing drinks and even for producing a red dye which African craftsmen use for staining furniture.

The wood is considered very durable, thus seeing it used in a host of exterior as well as interior applications. It is relatively easy to work, although it can be very difficult to dry.

view >>African Rosewood, False MopaneEasyReddishRosewood - African, stock
Redheart
Redheart
view >>Redheart; Red Heart; Chakte Kok; AcotilloMediumReddishno-stock
Purpleheart
Purpleheart

While renowned for its often deep, rich purple hues, Purpleheart is actually one of the toughest woods in the world. It is considered one of the stiffest, hardest woods — boasting an impressive strength-to-weight ratio. It is also extremely water resistant, which, combined with its toughness, has seen it frequently used in outdoor decking and even as truckbed flooring. The wood is typically straight or wavy grained (though sometimes irregular). Its texture ranges from fine to medium, and it has a nice natural luster that emerges when fine sanded. The wood works and turns well, although sharp tools and blades are a necessity. It glues and finishes well, also.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, flooring, parquee flooring, decking, paneling, musical instruments, furniture, cabinetry, inlay, boatbuilding, carvings, turnings, decorative items and small specialty objects.

Comments: When freshly cut, Purpleheart is actually more a dull brown with feint purple overtones. Within minutes, these colors quickly change into a variety of different purple hues (depending upon species, growth environment, etc.), but generally mutate back towards a darker brown with purple tint with continued exposure to UV rays. This process can be slowed and minimized by using a finishing product with UV-inhibitor additives.

While the wood is generally very cooperative when worked, given its hard, dense nature, dull tools and blades can be an issue. When resawing a board with a dull saw blade, it hardness can cause the wood and blade to overheat, producing a black, tar-like resin which requires some very patient sanding to completely remove.

Despite its large natural range and 23 different species, recent surges in popularity in this new millennium have led to some isolated cases of “near extinction” levels of tree population reduction in several Central American regions where it grows.

view >>Amaranth, Nazareno, Peltogyne, Purple Heart, VioletwoodMediumPurplepurpleheart, stock
Poplar (American Tulipwood)
Poplar (American Tulipwood)

The Yellow Poplar (Liriodendron Tulipifera) tree is the tallest of all Eastern US hardwoods; the wood it yields is some of the least dense. Yellow Poplar is characterized by a light muted cream color, often with mineral-stained streaks typically of gray and/or green. (Sapwood is ivory- to white-colored, easily distinguished from the heartwood.) Although, traditionally, Poplar has been long considered a “utility” type of lumber, the wood’s straight, uniform grains and medium texture affords it very cooperative working properties, and it glues and finishes well when finely sanded.

Yellow Poplar is moderately durable, in spite of its inherent light weight and low density, which has seen it commonly used for crates and pallets throughout the US.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, paneling, musical instruments (specifically, electric guitar bodies), plywood, pulp (for paper production), crates, pallets, and other utility applications.

Comments: The aesthetically desirable of Yellow Poplar boards is often referred to as “Rainbow Poplar;” so named for its muted mineral-stained color streaks, which truly span the rainbow. (… with red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, purple and black hues all possibly present and not uncommon.)

It is interesting to note that the tree is not actually a true Poplar (of the Populus genus), is a member of the Liriodendron genus. Liriodendron is Latin for ?lily tree.? After the tree buds, its flowers have a simlar hourglass shape to that of tulips — earning it the other common name by which its known of “Tulip Poplar.”

view >>American Tulipwood, Poplar, Rainbow Poplar, Tulip Poplar, Yellow PoplarEasyLight Brownno-stock
Pink Ivory
Pink Ivory

Pink Ivory remains one of the most elusive, coveted and highly desirable of all the world’s many exotic woods. Despite being indigenous to Southern Africa, the wood is rare throughout its home continent. What isn’t exported abroad is said to be hoarded by rich, hierarchical families throughout Africa, as the wood is considered to be on the same level of value as diamonds and emeralds.

Its reputation in the US is that of being one of the most elusive, difficult-to-source of all exotic woods, and one of the “holy grail” exotic tonewoods in the eyes of many guitar builders.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Instruments, decorative items, veneer, inlay / decorative, knife & gun handles, billiard cues, chessmen, and other turned objects.

Comments: In addition to its dazzling colors, texture and overall supremely regal appearance, Pink Ivory possesses great density (3230 lbf, on the Janka Hardness scale), making it well suited for a variety of applications. It is very popular with wood carvers and turners, alike, although it can be difficult to work and has reputation for dulling saw blades.

The Wood Database lists trees as growing to maturity at heights ranging from 100 – 130 feet, and trunk diameters of 3 to 5 feet. This, however, is inaccurate as trees rarely grow past 35 feet in height with trunks around one foot in diameter. The tree is protected and sustainably maintained in South Africa, only felled after the issuance of very limited permitting by respective state government environmental authorities. Given this, it’s little wonder that finding any Pink or Red Ivory beyond small craft-sized pieces has proven a very difficult task in the US.

view >>Red IvoryMediumPinkPink Ivory, stock
Pernambuco
Pernambuco

Pernambuco is renown for its use in the making of violin bows. But after being first discovered in 1500 by Portugese explorers, the trees and its wood become highly coveted and traded throughout Europe for the red dye it produced. Considered a valuable commodity, it was the preferred red dye of luxury textile manufacturers. Its heartwood varies from a muted yellow-orange to orange to red or reddish-brown, and it slowly darkens with age. Grains are generally straight, though sometimes interlocked. Despite its great density, it has excellent working properties and, with its fine texture, finishes nicely, boasting an impressive natural luster.

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Sustainability: Listed in CITES Appendix II, and listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Common Uses: Orchestral stringed instrument bows, veneers, inlay, carvings, and turned objects.

Comments: When many people think of the wood synonymous with Brazilian, they immediately think of Brazilian Rosewood. But, Pernambuco — or “Brazilwood,” as it is just as commonly known — is responsible for the naming of the country, itself!:

“When Portuguese ships discovered the trees on the coast of South America, they found that the wood yielded a red dye?which made for a very valuable and lucrative trading commodity. They named the tree pau brasil, the term pau meaning wood, and brasil meaning red/ember-like. Such a vigourous trade resulted from this wood that early sailors and merchants referred to the land itself as Terra do Brasil, or simply, the ?Land of Brazil??and the name stuck.” — The Wood Database (http://www.wood-database.com/brazilwood/)

When considered in an historical context, it is surprising that the wood has never been transplanted in a similar climate or has sprung up in regional plantations. Since its discovery more than 500 years ago, it has remained a highly sought-after woood. It was pushed close to the brink of extinction back in the 18th century, thus its current “endangered” status and very limited availability come as no surprise.

view >>Brazilwood, Ibirapitanga, Pau de Pernambuco, Pernambuco, TupiMediumMedium Brownno-stock
Pear - Swiss
Pear - Swiss

Historically, an important domestic hardwood throughout Europe, Swiss Pear is known for its fine, straight grains and smooth, consistent texture, as well as its pink coloration (which naturally ranges from pale to light to medium). Once cut, the wood’s hues intensify as it oxidizes. Swiss Pear is commonly steamed, to provide a more smooth, consistent pink color, and to relieve stress within the wood, so it dries flat.

Its easy, cooperative working properties combined with its consistent texture and color make it loved by craftsmen, carvers and turners, alike. It is highly regarded all over Europe, and considered by many to be the region’s finest hardwood, boasting properties similar to rosewood.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, architectural millwork, marquetry, furniture, cabinetry, inlay, carving, musical instruments (flutes, violins), and turned objects.

Comments: The wood is considered a premium hardwood in Europe, and one of economic importance. Its steady demand there equates to very little of it making it to the US. (Species of the Pyrus Communis tree have been transplanted all over the United States, primarily for its fruit production — the “Bartlett Pear.”) European furniture and cabinet makers utilize it in much the same way as American craftsman do Black Cherry.

Pear is decidedly non-durable; all of its applications are thus confined to interior. The wood has a tendency to dull cutters, so sharp blades are recommended for resawing.

view >>PearEasyPinkPear - Swiss, stock
Pau Rosa
Pau Rosa

Pau Rosa is a very beautiful tropical wood. Depending on the specific region of the trees’ growth, colors can vary from a medium chocolate brown to an almost Padauk-like red or orange, or even a mixture of such colors which can also include yellows and purples (also like Padauk). It is a very dense wood, with grains which are typically wavy or interlocked, and moderately course. Despite its density, it is considered relatively easy to work and turns, glues and finishes well.

Drying the wood is a slow, burdenous process. Like many woods which are comparably hard, logs and boards have a tendency to crack while drying, although Pau Rosa is considered very durable and dimensionally stable, there after.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices; categorized on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as a species of “least concern.”

Common Uses: Carpentry, furniture, veneer, fuelwood, interior & exterior utility, carvings, turnings and various small specialty items.

Comments: Pau Rosa is not commonly found outside of Africa. Due to the combination of its cracking tendencies (when drying) and the relative short, squatty profile of most trees, long boards are even more uncommon. The wood has a nice natural luster. Its density and somewhat coarse texture requires sharp blades, but — despite its coarseness and typically interlocked grains — it actually planes well.

Due to its very limited supply, Pau Rosa is not too well-known in the US. It has excellent tonal properties, despite being grossly overlooked and under-appreciated.

view >>Akite, Asomanini, Awong, Bannia, Boto, Dina, Pau RosaMediumDark Brownno-stock
Pau Marfim
Pau Marfim

Pau Marfim is a dense, fine textured, mostly straight grained hardwood which is generally a creamy white colorm but it can vary from a lemon color to a pale yellowish-brown, also. There is very little contrast between its sapwood and heartwood, although the heartwood can be decorated with darker streaks, occasionally. It is an extremely tough, durable wood, which has seen it utilized as a popular substitute for maple and birch and makes it an ideal choice for anything from flloring to tool handles.

The wood turns excellently, and it is easy to nail, crew or glue. It polishes to a smooth, fine finish, and is considered to be a very dimensionally stable wood.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Tool handles, oars, flooring, textile rollers, drawing instruments, canoes, cabinets, furniture, paneling, decorative plywood, veneer, turnings and carvings.

Comments: For flooring, Pau Marfim is considered superior to either Maple or Birch (commonly used for light-colored wood flooring applications) because of its renowned wear resistance. Despite being similar in appearance, Pau Marfim is harder to work and considered to be stronger than necessary by many cabinet makers familiar with the wood.

Its toughness has seen it used in many outdoor applications, including canoes and oars, despite it being known as having a very weak resistance to decay. Depending on specific location and conditions, the wood can vary greatly in density.

view >>Farinha Seca, Guatambu, Guatambu Moroti, Guatambus Blanco, Ivorywood, Kyrandy, Marfim, Moroti, Pau Liso, QuatambaMediumYellow / Whiteno-stock
Pau Ferro
Pau Ferro

There are actually two different types of wood which are known as Pau Ferro: the most common one is also known as Bolivian Rosewood, and Morado; the other one is significantly more dense (generally around 50% more), and is known also as Brazilian Ironwood and Brazilwood. The vast majority of what os made available in the US is former of the two — the less dense variety. The wood earned its “… Rosewood” nicknames (by which it is commonly known) because its colors and density are similar, which its medium brown base typically augmented by black streaks or grain lines, and sometimes even purple, tan and golden secondary hues, and sometimes a purplish tint, overall. Although it can have varying grains, straight-grained pieces are generally very easy to work, and the wood turns smoothly and finishes well. It is considered quite durable, although it can be subject to insect attack.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, musical instruments (in particular, guitars — both electric and acoustic), furniture, cabinetry, flooring, interior trim, turnings, and other small specialty wood objects.

Comments: Pau Ferro is a popular Brazilian Rosewood substitute and is thought to be about as similar in properties to rosewood as any non-Dalbergia-genus species possibly could be. Its grains are tighter than a typical rosewood specimen, and it is thought to have a more distinctly percussive taptone than that of Brazilian. It’s tonal response is said to have tight lows, present mids and a clear, singing high end response.

Despite the comparisons, it should be noted that the (much more prevalent) Machaerium-genus species of Pau Ferro has less density, hardness and weight than an average rosewood.

view >>Pau FerroMediumReddishno-stock
Panga Panga
Panga Panga

Panga Panga is the first cousin to Africa’s more popular and well-known exotic, Wenge (with both trees being of the Millettia genus) — sharing a similar large pored, course texture, and presenting some of the same challenges when working. It is generally a bit lighter colored, with heartwood ranging from the lighter to darkers sides of medium brown, with dark brown to black streaks and/or highlighted grain lines. Darker examples can be easily confused with Wenge, and they have been known to turn almost black as they age.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Hardwood flooring, veneer, paneling, trim, fine furniture, musical instruments, turnings and small specialty items.

Comments: If someone in the US were to take possession of this wood and resell it as Wenge, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. Panga Panga is more well known on the international market than in the US, and it remains a popular (and expensive) choice for parquee flooring throughout the UK and Europe.

There are the same inflammatory issues associated with its splinters. Sharing these same characteristics and propensities as its notorious cousin, carefully attention and proper precautions should be taken when working and handling it.

view >>Panga PangaMediumDark Brownno-stock
Palmyra - Black
Palmyra - Black

Not unlike its coconut-producing cousin, Red Palm, Black Palmyra (perhaps better known as “Black Palm” in the US) is unique among exotic woods in several ways. First, it’s tree is not categorized a hardwood or softwood tree, but as a flowering plant: Monocotyledon (or “Monocot”). Secondly, the tree is comprised of two entirely different layers: at its core is a soft, spoungy cellulose mass; this soft core is surrounded by a protective body, comprised of dense, overlapping layers of interwoven fibrovascular strands. It is this hard, dense protective layer that is considered its wood.

While it is considered to be typically straight grained, because of its toughness the wood can be very diificult to work; splintering and tearouts are not uncommon. It is a dimensionally stable wood, but it requires sharp blades and precise-angled cuts to get acceptable results when resawing this wood.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring, boatbuilding, walking sticks, handles, construction, exterior utility wood, furniture, and turned objects.

Comments: Monocotyledon is a group which contains over 60,000 different species, interestingly, among them are grains (rice; wheat; corn; etc.), various forage grasses, bananas, sugar cane, asparagus, onions, garlic and other spices (such as ginger and tumeric). Known for its great toughness, strength and durability, its wood has been used for centuries in a variety of functions in the third-world settings to which it is indigenous.

Black Palm’s weight and density can vary greatly, depending on growing conditions and specific location. It’s a tough wood, from a robust tree — a tree which historically has survived, and thrived, under some difficult growing conditions. Palms are known for their signature trunks, with gradually shrink in diameter, from the ground to its top.

view >>Black Palm, Black Palmyra, Lontar, Palmyra Palm, Rontal, Siwalan, Toddy Palm, Wine PalmChallengingDark Brownno-stock
Padauk - African
Padauk - African

African Paduak is a very strong, stable hardwood. It is known for its typically robust reddish-brown coloration (which darkens with age), although colors can range from a bright orange to a slightly muted burgundy often with highlights, grain lines and/or secondary colors ranging from brick red to a more purplish muted hue. The wood can sometimes be found figured (ribbon; striped; etc.), and it is well known for its deep chatoyance and wonderful natural luster. Grains are typically straight, though sometimes interlocked.

The wood is considered very durable and also resistant to bug / insect / termite attack, which accordingly has seen it used in outdoor applications for centuries in its native Africa. Its working and finishing characteristics are decidedly favorable.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, flooring, furniture, trim, musical instruments, turned objects, handles, utility, and small specialty wood objects.

Comments: There continues to be a steady demand for Padauk in the US. Fortunately, to this point, its supply has continued to steadily grow, in response to this demand. Thus, Padauk remains a reasonably priced exotic import with aesthetics that can be, at times, quite stunning and vibrant. Its texture is similar to African Mahogany, being slightly open grained with large pores.

Premium-quality boards will have long, flowing straight grains, with a ribbon figure and dramatic chatoyance that might be confused for Bloodwood. Trees can grow over 100 feet in height, so long, wide, thick boards are not uncommon.

The wood has a very low shrinkage rate, and is renowned for dimensional stability.

view >>African Padauk, PadaukEasyReddishstock
Osage Orange
Osage Orange

Coming from South-central United States, Osage Orange?s heartwood begins as a bright yellow, but darkens with age.? It has an Argentinian relation, Maclura tinctoria, which comes in larger sizes and with less knots than the US species.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Fence pots, dye, archery bows, musical instruments, turnings and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: It turns well, but with its high density and hardness is difficult to work with.

view >>Horse Apple, Osage OrangeChallengingYellow / Whiteno-stock
Olive - Wild
Olive - Wild

For millenniums, Olivewood has remained a wood of great cultural and religious importance and significance, especially in the Middle East. The wood can, indeed, be exquisite in appearance: with its (typically) creamy, golden brown base, and darker streaks and highlights, often augmented by spectacular figuring and/or areas of magnificent burling.

Grain patterns are usually either straight or wild, although they can sometimes be interlocked, as well. Although opinions differ, Olivewood is thought by many to be a very durable wood, although it can be suspect to insect / bug infestation. The wood is considered to be a superb turner, and it generally works, glues and finishes well. Because the fruit of the Olive tree is olives, there is a limited supply of Olivewood that is made available to the US.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Religious symbolic / functional objects (typically carvings or turnings), furniture, veneer, musical instruments, carvings, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.

Comments: For wood craftsmen of all niches, Olivewood is highly desired for its often spectacular aesthetics; being known for its gorgeous, often-twisting grain patterns and dramatic figuring. Defects are not uncommon, and can often present some challenges when working, but hard work and perseverance can produce extraordinary results; there’s really no other wood quite like it.

Found in the Mediterranean Basin — from Portugal to the Levant, and the Arabian Peninsula — and Southern Asia, as far east as China, the Olive tree grows as a small evergreen tree or shrub. It is also known to grow in the Canary Islands, Mauritius and R?union. The species is / has been cultivated in many places; it’s considered “naturalized” in the Mediterranean coast countries, as well as in Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Java (Indonesia), Norfolk Island, (the U.S. state) California, and Bermuda.

Its trunk is generally twisted and/or gnarled, making long, undefected boards quite rare. When found, they command a premium price.

view >>OlivewoodChallengingVariegatedOlive - Wild, stock
Oak - White - American
Oak - White - American

White Oak has long been considered one of the preeminent hardwoods of Central & Eastern America. The trees commonly live for hundreds of years, if left undisturbed. The color of the heartwood can vary from a light golden tan to a light to medium brown. The grains are straight. Quartersawn examples often display the “fleck” figuring patterns for which oaks are known. Its renowned toughness and durability has seen White Oak used in boat building for centuries, as it also responds well to steam bending. Despite its large pores and generally coarse surface, the wood works, glues and holds a stain and/or a finish very well.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, boatbuilding, wine barrels, interior & exterior utility wood, and veneer.

Comments: The White Oak is the most durable of the oak subgroups; however, because of its high shrinkage rates, it has a resultingly suspect dimensional stability. Although it is commonly offered in both flatsawn and quartersawn boards, best results are always obtained by quartersawing.

Specimens have been documented to reach ages of more 450 years old; while one, still living (in Basking Ridge, NJ), estimated to be over 600 years old.

It should be noted that all Quercus-genus (true oak) hardwoods have been known to discolor when left in contact with iron.

view >>American White Oak, White OakEasyLight Brownno-stock
Oak - Slavonian
Oak - Slavonian

This is an oak hardwood species not often seen or found in great abundance outside of Western & Southwestern Europe. It is perhaps best noted for its use in the manufacture of wine barrels; the wood is said to have a mellowing effect on the taste and texture of wines which are aged in the barrels. (It is an historical favorite among Italian wine producers.) Its heartwood is a light to medium brown, sometimes with a greenish hue. Its grains are generally straight (although sometimes interlocked or irregular), but its texture is coarse and uneven.

Like many other oaks, quartersawn pieces will typically display fleck ray patterns. Although not as dense as White Oak, it is also very responsive to steam bending, and is a tough durable wood. It, too, is easy to work, and glues, stains and finishes well.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Wine barrels, cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, boatbuilding, and veneer.

Comments: Hardly ever seen here, this is an oak that remains in short supply in the US. It is a tough, versatile wood, and its renown in the wine industry dates back many centuries. Quartersawn pieces, again, provide maximum stability for this species, and their fleck figuring can be quite dramatic.

 

view >>English Oak, English Pippy Oak, English White Oak, European Oak, Pedunculate Oak, Slavonian OakEasyLight Brownno-stock
Oak - Silky
Oak - Silky

Silky Oak is not a true Quercus-genus species, although it can exhibit a similar appearance; it is renowned for its dense “rays” and sometime flecked figuring. (Quartersawn pieces can be very dramatic.) It has a light to medium reddish-brown hue, with contrasting rays that are slightly darker can range anywhere from a muted brown to gray color. Despite being more durable than any American oak species, its draw is its aesthetic qualities. Because of its course texture — with quartersawn surfaces being littered with Lacewood-like flecks — Silky Oak can prove to difficult to plane. Once you’re passed that, it is generally easy to work, and glues and finishes well.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, cabinetry, fine furniture, musical instruments, turned objects, and other small specialty items.

Comments: This wood is easily misidentified as “Lacewood;” their aesthetics and densities are generally quite similar. The wood is not particularly well known in the US, as exports have been sporadic and, thus, supplies are quite limited.

Being of the Grevillea genus, the wood is not actually related to any true Oak (genus: Quercus) species; it is actually a fast-growing evergreen tree.

view >>Oak - SilkyMediumYellow / Pinkno-stock
Oak - Red (American)
Oak - Red (American)

Red Oak has a light brown heartwood color, with a reddish tint. Due to its basically light coloration, it is not always that easy to distinguish its sap from its heart. Like its many cousins, quartersawn examples display varying amounts of its renowned “ray fleck” patterns. Grains are typically straight, but with a coarse texture and large, open pores. The wood works, finishes and glues well. Its impressive strength, hardness and moderate price have made it a popular choice with furniture builders and cabinet makers.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, veneer, utility, handles and interior utility applications.

Comments: The Northern Red Oak trees’ heights and trunk diameters can vary greatly, with forest-grown trees known to reach heights well in excess of 100 feet, and trunk over 6 ft in diameter. Conversely, open-grown trees spread out considerably wider — making them a natural choice for many street and park shades trees.

The wood is an historically-important wood in the US, utilized in a variety of interior applications. The wood has become synonymous with house interiors, and vinyls / imitation wood substitutes are often produced to appear as Red Oak.

High shrinkage rates equate with poor dimensional stability, thus quartersawing is recommended.

view >>Northern Red Oak, Red OakEasyPinkno-stock
Nogal
Nogal

Nogal — also commonly known as “Peruvian Walnut” — is a dark chocolate-colored walnut which often contains black lines and streaks and can sometimes be tinted (in this case, usually purple, when found). Not unlike its American cousin, Black Walnut, it typically has straight grain patterns (which can also occasionally be irregular), a medium to course texture and a good natural luster.

Despite these aesthetic similarities, it is much less common to find figuring in Nogal than in Black Walnut. It is generally considered very easy to work, stain, finish and glue, although irregular-grained boards can experience tearout issues when planed.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices, however Juglans Neotropica is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, veneer, flooring, musical instruments, and interior trim.

Comments: “Peruvian Walnut” is the name given to a variety of true Walnut (Juglans) species which grow throughout Central & South America. The wood is typically darker than American Black Walnut, although it has a very similar density and working properties.

While being moderately durable, its applications are typically confined to ‘indoor,’ as it can make an inviting target for bugs and insects.

The wood is notorious for being slow to dry. It must be slowly and carefully air dried, prior to kiln drying. Logs are usually cut into boards of 4/4 thickness, for faster, more consistent drying. Thicker pieces have proven problematic with the irreegular occurance of wet zones — which can lead to “honeycombing,” or even internal collapse.

view >>Nogal, Peruvian Walnut, South American Walnut, Tocte, Tropical WalnutChallengingDark Brownno-stock
Mopane Roots
Mopane Roots

Indigenous to the southern region of Africa, the Mopane tree is known for its butterfly-shaped leaves — leaves which are initially a bright green color, later transforming into a cache of reds, oranges, and yellows, in the autumn season. The heartwood it produces is medium to darker brown in color, with a golden to reddish tint, often decorated with black streaks. It is very dense and extremely durable. It is also very resistance to infestation, which has seen it used for centuries in its native region in a variety of outdoor uses.

The wood is considered very difficult to work, as — in addition to its great density — its grain patterns are usually interlocked. It turns smoothly and (as would be expected) holds details very well, making it popular with turners and carvers who know of it.

We stock roots, but the details we provide are for the timber.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring, furniture, musical instruments, turned objects, carvings, fuelwood/charcoal, fencing, exterior construction and other outdoor utility applications.

Comments: Despite being one of the most dense, stable and durable woods on the planet, Mopane remains one of Africa’s best-kept secrets. It has been used for centuries there for carved woodwind instruments, and is considered to have excellent tonal properties, similar to African Blackwood.
Large boards are rare and difficult to obtain; trees tend to branch out to great widths, yielding irregular-shaped, trunks, and at full maturity

view >>Gumane, Mopane, MopaniChallengingLight Brownno-stock
Mesquite
Mesquite

While Mesquite has become well known in the culinary world for its popularity as a wood for smoking meats, in the Southwest (the region of the US where it is indigenous) it is considered an invasive species. Given that and its high thermal value, it is also popularly used as fire wood there.

The heartwood is generally a reddish-brown color, with a yellowish sap. The wood has excellent strength and durability properties, which facilitate its use in a variety of applications. Defects such as knots and cracks are common, although clear pieces, when found, work very easily and finish well.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring, turned objects, cabinetry, furniture, fence posts and other utility applications, fuel wood, and cooking wood (for smoking meats, etc.).

Comments: Large boards (especially clear ones) are not often seen — as trees grow very small (reaching maturity at very modest heights) and trunks are typically crooked — but irregular-shaped slabs can sometimes be found.

Due to its popularity as a meat-smoking wood, there is a steady demand for Mesquite, which keeps its price high for a domestic hardwood.

view >>Honey Mesquite, MesquiteEasyReddish Brown
Marblewood
Marblewood

Marblewood tree is known for the highly distinctive stripes, ranging in color from dark brown, to even purple or black. While the sapwood is usually bears the same distinctively pale yellow color as the heartwood, only the heartwood features the trademark striping, which makes the wood so appealing to turners. The striping is random and irregular; no two patterns are ever alike. The wood is heavy and dense, making it well suited for applications where strength and durability are key — such as flooring and furniture.

The wood can prove difficult to work, on account of its density and sometimes interlocked graining. Marblewood is also known for its high natural resin content; proper, complete kiln drying is essential for applications which involve finishing.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring, veneer, cabinetry, furniture, turned objects, carvings and utility applications.

Comments: Marblewood derives its name from the contrasting dark streaks and light color, giving an appearance similar to that of marble. The wood can have a similar appearance to that of Zebrawood, although Marblewood is a more coarse wood and the two species are unrelated.

Although working it requires sharp blades and a bit of patience, the wood can deliver some rather stunning results when finished. It is a very stable wood. While it is hard on tools, it can be sliced thin and hold its shape.

Small surface checks — pesky lines which refuse to sand out — are common. Premium-grade examples will have no such surface checks, and will have a glass-like natural luster after being finish sanded.

view >>Brazilian TeakChallengingMedium Brownno-stock
Maple - Soft
Maple - Soft

The term “Soft Maple” is not a reference to any particular maples species, per se, but a segment of the Acer genus known for its lighter weight and density (as well as its propensity for displaying the classic maple “curl” figure). Of these lighter maples, Red Maple has the most weight and density, and is also the most prevalent — growing in areas scattered all over the Eastern US and up into (Eastern) Canada. As is the paradoxical case with all maples, its beautiful pale white / pale yellow / pale golden sapwood are more coveted than its darker heartwood.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, paper, boxes, utility wood, musical instruments, turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: Its more heavy, dense nature lends Red Maple to a greater variety of utility applications, versus its less substantial Soft Maple cousins. Its figuring can be quite dramatic; tiger-striped, veined, fiddleback and sometimes even quilt figuring are sometimes present.

view >>Soft MapleMediumYellow / Whiteno-stock
Maple - Hard
Maple - Hard

Maple is the only American wood species harvested primarily for its sapwood, rather than heartwood. Since the beginning of mass commercial production of the electric guitar, in the early 1950’s, Hard Maple has remained a pivotal lumber in the industry. It comes in a variety of figures — including Birdseye and Tiger Maple figurings — and its soft pale white to pale yellow complexion is sometimes augmented by light blue, red or pinkish tints and highlights, with a marvelous luster and often a luxurious sheen.

Its excellent strength-to-weight ratio, handsome looks, easy workability and steady supply has cemented Maple as a part of both American industry and culture. Despite its ready availability, premium-grade boards always command high prices and remain in constant demand, worldwide.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Commercial & residential flooring, veneer, musical instruments, furniture, cabinetry, turned objects, carvings, interior utility wood applications and miscellaneous wood specialty items.

Comments: For more than a century, Hard Maple has remained the preferred choice for commercial flooring in the US for applications — such as gymnasiums, bowling alleys, dance halls and any more — where light-color, strength and toughness are requisite qualities. It is the strongest and densest of all the commercial maple species.

Its trees are also known as “Sugar Maple,” being the primary species tapped for maple syrup.

Use caution, be slow and patient, and pay careful attention when cutting or sanding any maple species with high-RPM machinery, as its surface can burn.

view >>Hard Maple, Rock Maple, Sugar MapleEasyYellow / Whiteno-stock
Maple - Curly Hard
Maple - Curly Hard

Curly Maple or “Tiger Maple” (so called for its abundant “tiger stripe” figuring) is also not a specific species of maple; the figuring is common in many varieties of the Acer genus. While it is most commonly found in the softer maples, it is also seen regularly in Hard Maples, which is what we offer. Maple is one of those rare woods where the sapwood is considered more valuable and coveted than the heartwood. Pure sapwood boards that are dense and highly-figured are, without question, the most sought after of curly maples. Such boards can command serious money with electric guitar builders. Tiger Maple boards are also very popular with furniture craftsmen, flooring manufacturers, veneer mills and cabinet builders.

view >>Curly Maple, Tiger MapleMediumYellow / WhiteMaple - Curly, stock
Maple - Birdseye
Maple - Birdseye

Birdseye Maple is another title which does not, necessarily, denote a specific Acer species — although the bulk of what is sold is Sugar Maple (Acer Saccharum) — but, rather, a unique figuring that occurs in maple as a result of numerous small- to medium-sized knots accumulating in the wood. It remains one of the most coveted and sought-after of all figured maple varieties.

Although it has never been scientifically proven, the prevailing school of thought is that the figuring is reportedly caused by unfavorable growing conditions. As the tree attempts to access more sunlight, buds begin to sprout in its trunk — to try and grow more branches, to access more light — but the tree lacks the requisite nutrients to support the growth and the new shoots are aborted, resulting in “birdseyes” (small knots) embedded in the tree’s wood.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List.

Common Uses: Veneer, furniture, cabinetry, guitar building, and decorative and trim uses.

Comments: There can be very large variances in birdseye size and content. Boards with larger concentrations of birdseyes are, obviously, more sought after and, thus, command greater prices than more sparsely decorated pieces. When sanded and finish-sanded, boards featuring somewhat larger birdseyes can have an almost 3D look — like brown bumps, sitting up on a light golden surface.

There have been tearout issues associated with birdseyes, as sometimes these tiny knots can wind up leaving tiny voids. There are also justified concerns that the tiny voids may occur sometime after the wood has been put into service. Because of this, some electric guitar luthiers shy away from using Birdseye Maple for fretboard wood, as slotting the frets can prove adventurous (if not downright painful). 🙂 (Others, who do use it, will apply a finish coat of some type of protective lacquer over the fretboard when completing the neck.)

view >>Birdseye MapleChallengingYellow / WhiteMaple - Birdseye, stock
Maple - Ambrosia
Maple - Ambrosia

Ambrosia Maple is a general term attached to a variety of Acer (true maple) species whose boards included colorful bug “trails” — caused by a fungus carried by the Ambrosia Beetle which penetrates the tree sap as the beetle eats into the tree, and it spreads both through the worm hole and up and down in the tree (carried along by the sap) and causes discoloring of the wood in streaks. The two primary species which draw the beetle’s attention are Acer Rubrum (Red Maple) and Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple), although — with there reputedly being more than sixty different Acer species indigienous to North America — this unusual phenomenon is certainly not confined to just the two. Weight and density can vary greatly — depending upon the actual species — the typical varieties of maple figuring can also be present, often creating some very unique, visually spectacular specimens.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, furniture, crafts, guitar tops and bodies, turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: Like any other maple, it is easily worked; generally cooperative through all phases. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine — since bugs have, quite obviously, already penetrated the wood’s surface — that the wood is decidedly non-durable, although it is generally stable enough for use in furniture and guitars. It’s surface is typically darker than most sap maple (often featuring secondary / additional discolorations and other long streaks), although it retains the same high degree of natural luster.

The scientific explanation is that the impregnated Ambrosia Beetle burrows into the maple tree (presumably for a safe place to deposit larvae), carrying fungi on its feet into the wood — which serves as food for the insect’s offspring, when they hatch. The fungal residue left behind as it digs into the maple can cause discoloration throughout the wood, via the tree’s sap, in addition to the dramatically contrasting (mostly) blue and (sometimes) green trails which surround the small tunnels they chew. The beetles prefer wood that is not soaking wet, but that is in the beginning stages of drying. Once kiln dried, they will not reinfest.

view >>Ambrosia, Ambrosia Maple, Wormy MapleEasyVariegatedno-stock
Makore
Makore

Makore is a beautiful African wood which is renowned for its great strength and durability, despite being of a moderate density. Its heartwood can range from pink to a light to medium reddish-brown, with its yellow sapwood be clearly discerible, when present. Figuring is not unusual, with striped, mottled and sometimes even beeswing being found in quartersawn boards. It is typically straight-grained and easy to work, although grain patterns can occasionally be wavy or interlocked. Although it can have a dulling effect on saw blades, its high silica content contributes to its fine natural luster and poses no real issues with gluing or finishing.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, furniture, cabinetry, flooring, boatbuilding, musical instruments, utility wood, turned objects, and other small wooden specialty items.

Comments: This is another wood that is sometimes utilized as a ‘mahogany substitute.’ It is generally very cooperative when worked and it turns well, also. The wood has an excellent strenth-to-weight ratio, which has contributed to its being utilized in a variety of different roles in its native Africa for centuries.

Trees can grow to towering heights, so boards of considerably length, width and thickness can be found.

view >>African Cherry, Cherry Mahogany, MakoreMediumReddish Brownno-stock
Mahogany - Sapele
Mahogany - Sapele

Sapele is an economically-important wood to the continent of Africa, and one that continues to grow in popularity in other industries beyond veneer mills, here in the US. It is commonly used as a substitute for Genuine Mahogany — also belonging to the Meliaceae family — and it, too, is considered moderately durable and stable. Its color can range from a light golden brown to a darker reddish- or pinkish-brown. The color will darken as the wood ages. Sapale is renowned for its sometimes quite dramatic figuring, which comes in an array of different styles: ribbon, pommele, quilted, mottled, waterfall, wavy, beeswing, tiger-striped and fiddleback. It also possesses a beautiful natural luster.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, furniture, cabinetry, flooring, boatbuilding, utility wood, musical instruments, turned objects, and other small wooden specialty items.

Comments: Sapele makes a great alternative to Honduran (“Genuine”) Mahogany. Prices for it are significantly less than its genuine counterpart; with the current export restrictions being imposed on mahoganies in Central America, Sapele (despite being exported from Africa) has become much easier to source.

Sapele works, turns and finishes beautifully. Aesthetically, it can be a stunning wood. Its modest price tag makes it an inviting choice, although highly-figured (such as waterfall and pommele) pieces can sometimes command very high prices.

view >>Sapele, Sapele MahoganyMediumReddish Brownno-stock
Mahogany - Santos
Mahogany - Santos

Although not a true (Swietenia-genus) mahogany, Santos Mahogany exhibits a lot of the same aesthetic characteristics. The heartwood ranges from a muted yellow-orange to (more commonly) a deep red in color. Pieces which feature dramatic figuring and chatoyance, like its namesake, are not uncommon, either. Its visual similarities are where the comparisons end, as the wood is considerably heavier and generally around twice as dense and hard as a typical true mahogany species.

Its grains are typically interlocked (though sometimes straight), making it difficult to work. The wood has a high natural oil content, which can make it difficult to glue but gives it a beautiful luster and renders an excellent finish. Its texture is typically not as fine as mahogany, shading more towards the ‘medium’ portion of the scale.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (… considered to be a species of ‘least concern’ to CITES, presently.)

Common Uses: Flooring, furniture, interior trim, veneer and heavy construction.

Comments: Its tough, very durable nature makes it a natural choice for more demanding applications, such as flooring — where it remains a popular choice in the US. Unlike true mahoganies, this wood can be difficult to work — having a blunting effect on blades and cutting tools, with its noted density, oily nature and interlocked grains.

view >>Balsamo, Cabreuva, Cabriziva, Cedro Chino, Chirraca, Estoraque, Incienso, Nabal, Palo de Balsamo, Sandalo, Santos Mahogany, Tache, ToluMediumReddishMahogany - Santos, no-stock
Mahogany - Pod / Chamfuta
Mahogany - Pod / Chamfuta

Pod Mahogany is a light reddish-brown wood, indigenous to the southeastern region of Africa. (Sapwood is easily distinguishable, with its pale yellow coloration.) It is a very hard wood — considerably more dense, stable and durable than any other ‘mahogany substitute’ wood. More dense specimens have been used for a number of demanding outdoor applications in Africa, yet premium-grade pieces can hold their own, aesthetically, with the finest exotic woods in the world — often boasting a high degree of chatoyance, and a remarkably deep, 3D-like figure.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Construction, furniture, inlay and other decorative purposes, plywood, paneling, flooring, fence posts, and other outdoor utility uses.

Comments: Pod Mahogany is so named for its often figured, highly chatoyant appearance which resembles mahogany, and the trees from which the wood is cut are pod bearing. (Seeds taken from the pods the trees produce are in great demand in Africa, for use as ornaments and charms. They are often woven into necklaces, or made into trinkets and sold as curios. Elephants are known to eat its leaves and bark.)

The wood is significantly more dense than most mahoganies. Resultingly, it is more stable and durable — expanding the variety of potential applications for this most beautiful, useful wood.

view >>Afzelia, Chamfuta, Chamfuti, Doussie, Pod MahoganyMediumReddishno-stock
Mahogany - Crotch
Mahogany - Crotch

Honduran Mahogany is just as commonly known as “Genuine Mahogany”. This is indicative of the fact that it is the world’s most popular, sought-after mahogany, and the standard by which all other mahoganies are compared. Its color can range from a light golden brown to a pale pinkish-red, with its color darkening over time. Premium examples of the species will exhibit a velvety look to its fine grains, a tight consistency to its fine grain patterns and a chatoyance that can range from subtle to dramatic. The wood is renowned for its use in fine furniture, cabinetry and musical instruments, although its very cooperative working and finishing characteristics make it popular with turners and carvers, also.

view >>American Mahogany, Big Leaf Mahogany, Brazilian Mahogany, Genuine Mahogany, Honduran Mahogany, Honduras MahoganyChallengingReddishMahogany - Crotch, stock
Mahogany - Brazilian
Mahogany - Brazilian

Known in the US primarily as “Genuine Mahogany,” Swietenia Macrophylla, its scientific name, is what most in the exotic lumber industry consider to be the true species when referring to “Mahogany.” Historically, it has been a very economically important wood throughout the Latin America region. Its color can range from a pale pink to a light to medium reddish-brown, and it is renowned for its chatoyance. Grains vary; although generally straight, they can be interlocked, irregular or wavy, also. Its texture is fine and uniform, with a rich natural luster.

Lumber which originates from the wood’s indigenous natural regions is considered to be significantly more durable and stable than its plantation-grown counterparts.

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Sustainability: This species is in CITES Appendix II, and is listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, turned objects, veneer, musical instruments, boatbuilding, and carvings.

Comments: Once a mainstay in the cabinetry, furniture and guitar building industries, here in the US, Genuine Mahogany has become increasingly more difficult to source since its inclusion in CITES’ Appendix II, in 2003. It is still imported, although a significantly high percentage are of plantation-grown origin — which is less desirable and considered to be of inferior quality to that grown in native habitats.

While the net effect of all this has been to create a ‘mahogany substitute’ segment of the exotic wood import industry — bringing woods such as Sapele and African Mahogany more into favor — the demand for Genuine Mahogany hasn’t waned.

view >>Brazilian Mahogany, Geniune Mahogany, Honduran MahoganyMediumReddish Brownno-stock
Mahogany - African
Mahogany - African

African Mahogany is a wood that continues to grow in popularity — so much so that this new millennium has seen its various species be replanted into tropical regions in Central America, as well as becoming a contemporary plantation roster addition. Depending on its origin, growth conditions and specific strain (“African Mahogany” encompasses four different Khaya species), it color can range from a pale pink or muted orange, to a somewhat darker reddish- or golden-brown. It can also have darker striping, and, aesthetically, it can be further enhanced through figuring (ribbon; wavy diagonal; mottled) and varying levels of chatoyance.

Its grains are typically either straight or interlocked. It works, turns and finishes easily, and beautifully, although boards which feature interlocked grains can occasionally pose tearout issues when planing, joining or resawing.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. (Given recent upsurges in supply, it may be due for a reevaluation.)

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, turned items, furniture, boatbuilding, electric guitar building, and interior trim.

Comments: This is another commercially important wood to the African continent. It has been traditionally used there in numerous applications, and is considered a strong, tough, durable wood.

Its being utilized as a Genuine Mahogany substitute has seen its popularity and demand increase, leading to plantation-grown lumber and its various species being transplanted into tropical regions across Latin America. Its ‘mahogany substitute’ status is a valid, justified one: the wood possesses many of the same structural and aesthetic qualities as Honduran Mahogany.

view >>African Mahogany, KhayaMediumReddish Brownno-stock
Louro Preto
Louro Preto

Louro Preto is closely related to Bocote and Ziricote, also being a Central / South American wood whose species are in the Cordia genus. Its heartwood is typically a medium brown color, with both red and green tints common. The sap is easily discerned, being of a pale coloration with a base that’s usually a muted yellowish hue. The wood is known to darken, considerably, with repeated UV-ray exposure. Compared with either of its aforementioned Cordia counterparts, Louro Preto is generally pretty tame in its grain patterns (which are usually either straight-grained or somewhat irregular).

It has a texture that ranges from fine to medium, and has the impressive natural luster associated with the genus.

Despite also sharing their propensity for high natural oil content, the wood usually glues well. It is known to be easy to work, although some examples may contain varying amounts of silica.

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Sustainability: Not currently listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, veneer, and turned objects.

Comments: Louro Preto has always been greatly overshadowed by Bocote and Ziricote in terms of popularity and demand, despite being a rather handsome wood. It’s very easy to work, it finishes well and has an impressive natural luster that emerges when sanded. Its pleasant appearance can sometimes be augmented by bold, dark brown lines and streaks.

Because of a general lack of demand in the US, its supply has consistently been a limited one.

view >>Laurel Negro, Louro PretoMediumMedium Brownno-stock
Longhi
Longhi

Longhi is an African wood with similar working properties to its more well-known cousin, Anigre. Its color varies from a greyish-white to beige to pinkish-brown color, which slightly darkens with age and UV-ray exposure. Its generally light appearance makes sapwood difficult to distinguish. Its grains are typical straight (though occasionally interlocked) and its texture ranges between fine and medium-fine. It can sometimes possess mottled or subtle tiger-striped figuring.

The wood must be carefully dried, as it is susceptible to fungus. It is considered to be moderately durable, and moderately stable. Longhi has a solid strength-to-weight ratio, which makes it a popular choice for flooring and decking.

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Sustainability: Not currently listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Construction, flooring / subflooring, interior joinery, furniture & furniture components, countertops, carving, plywood, veneer, cabinetry, decks, turned items, and utility applications.

Comments: Longhi is in the same family as Anigre, and has similar, cooperative working characteristics.

view >>Anandio, Bambou, Bopambu, Ekpiro, Longhi Blanc, ObomEasyPinkno-stock
Limba
Limba

Limba has been an historically important wood in Africa, sue, in part, to its universal popularity. Although its population was considered threaten, from overexpolitation in the first half of the 20th century, a concerted effort was made — a most successful one — to preserve the species and expand its natural range, through numerous regional and national efforts made from the ’50’s through the ’70’s, all over West and Central Africa.

Limba has a charcteristic light base color, ranging from a pale yellow to a light golden brown, to a pale tan — and sometimes muted to the point of having a greyish appearance. It often has dark brown or black overlapping highlights (as well as lighter colored patches, occasionally, ranging from yellow to orange), which is what distinguishes White Limba (also called “Korina”) from Black Limba (same wood / same species; just differing aesthetics). It sap is only slightly lighter in color than its heart and can sometimes be difficult to discern.

Despite its medium to coarse texture and a small silica content, its typically straight grains (those sometimes irregular or interlocked) and modest hardness and density make it generally quite easy to work. Its glues and finishes well (with a moderate natural luster); its base color takes on a more golden tone under a clear lacquer finish. It is considered neither a tough or durable wood, so such finishing is recommended.

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Sustainability: Not currently listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, veneer, musical instruments [in particular, electric guitar bodies and (sometimes) necks, and acoustic guitar body shells (back & sides)], turnings, interior trim, ping-pong / table tennis paddles and other laminate applications.

Comments: This wood became quite popular with US electric guitar builders, after being glamorized by Gibson Guitars in 1958, with its exclusive use as a body and neck wood with the introduction of their radical “Flying V” and “Explorer” models. (It was Gibson who actually dubbed the name “Korina” for the wood — a name by which it is now commonly known, and called, within the US guitar luthier community.) To this day, it remains a very popular wood for guitar necks and, especially, bodies; although it should be noted that the wood is decidedly non-durable and is susceptible to insect attack.

 

By the early 1950’s, the wood was thought to be severely endangered. Efforts were made to replant the wood in plantations across it natural range, for the next twenty-plus years, the results of which witnessed the species expand beyond its original rainforest habitat — making its way into savannah areas and even penetrating regional evergreen forests.

view >>Acacia KoaEasyVariegatedno-stock
Lignum Vitae
Lignum Vitae

Without question, one of the world’s hardest, most dense woods, Argentinian Lignum Vitae is very similar to its namesake — the world’s most dense wood, genuine Lignum Vitae — in appearance, working properties and physical characteristics. (Both are classified in the same scientific family, Zygophyllaceae.) It is a beautiful wood, with heartwood colors ranging from medium to dark brown, quite often featuring green highlights (sometimes in a prominent fashion) which become more pronounced as the wood ages and is increasingly exposed to UV rays. Sapwood is pale yellow. Its grains can be straight, wavy or slightly interlocked, and it has a smooth, consistent texture and an impressive natural luster that emerges with fine-grit sanding.

While its dense, hard, heavy physical nature makes it rough on blades and sometimes difficult to glue, it turns very smoothly and is extremely stable and durable.

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Sustainability: This wood species is in CITES Appendix II, and is on the IUCN Red List as “Conservation Dependent.”

Common Uses: Tool handles, mallet heads, bearings, bushings, boatbuilding, pulley wheels, utility outdoor applications, heavy construction (in local indigneous regions), and turned objects.

Comments: When (genuine) Lignum Vitae first made it onto CITES’ Appendix II list, Verawood became more well known and popular — commonly used as a substitute. Now that it, too, has made it onto both CITES and the IUCN’s radar, it is not an easy wood to access in the US, either.

Despite the difficulties it poses with planing and resawing, Argentinian Lignum is a great wood for any outdoor applications: it is virtually rot-proof, and insect-proof.

view >>Argentine Lignum Vitae, Argentinian Lignum Vitae, VerawoodMediumDark Brownno-stock
Leadwood
Leadwood

So named for its significant weight and density, this South African wood is seldom seen in the US in lumber form. Its heartwood is a robust medium to dark brown (sometimes with a reddish tint), and is known to darken with age; sapwood is pale yellow. Grains are straight or irregular, and knots are not uncommon. Its texture is fine and consistent, and it displays a pleasant natural luster after fine sanding.

Leadwood is an excellent wood for any outdoor applications where strength, insect resistance and durability are required. Its tremendous density makes it difficult to plane and hard on cutting tools and saw blades — and its high natural oil content can make it difficult to glue — but its tightly uniform, fine grains allows it to turn, sand and finish beautifully.

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Sustainability: Not currently listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Carvings, furniture, turned objects, fuelwood and miscellaneous small specialty items.

Comments: In its native Africa, Leadwood is commonly used as fuelwood, as it burns slowly and at very high temperatures. It is popular with carvers familiar with it: its color and texture are fairly consistent, it turns superbly, has excellent stability and its great density holds details well. It is said that before metal products were introduced, Africans made their tilling hoes from this lumber.

view >>ChacateMediumVariegatedno-stock
Lacewood - Brazilian
Lacewood - Brazilian

Lacewood is so named for the tightly-grouped flecks which cover its surface. It is almost exclusively quartersawn, which displays its dramatic flecking in lace-like patterns (thus, the name). Its heartwood color can vary from a light beige to a soft, muted pink; additional coloration is not uncommon, via mineral staining. It is a light weight, non-durable wood of moderate density. Prior to being sanded, the flecked portion’s slightly elevated positioning on the wood’s surface gives it a true 3D look. Although it is generally very easy to work (it glues, stains and finishes in a cooperative fashion), this coarse, uneven texture can cause tearout issues when boards are planed.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, cabinetry, fine furniture, musical instruments (mostly guitars), and turned objects.

Comments: There has been much confusion surrounding this wood. There are two species of oak that are indigenous to Australia (whose respective surfaces are also saturated with flecks) which are commonly sold as “Australian Lacewood.” Lacewood is often confused with Leopardwood, too; their appearances are very similar, but Leopardwood is considerably heavier and has approximately triple its density.

view >>Brazilian LacewoodMediumYellow / Pinkno-stock
Koa
Koa

Hawaiian Koa is generally medium brown to reddish brown in color, but color can vary quite a lot.? It is a very popular musical instrument wood that produces a rich, warm tone. As a result it is used a lot in guitars and ukuleles.

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Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern

Common Uses: Veneers, musical instruments, gun & knife handles, turned objects, and specialty items.

Comments: Koa is considered to be one of Hawaii?s most attractive native hardwoods. It has been compared to Mahogany in appearance by some. It is quite dimensionally stable and fairly easy to work except when the pieces are highly figured or have heavily interlocked grains.

view >>Acacia KoaEasyMedium Brownno-stock
Kingwood
Kingwood

Brazilian Kingwood is the second most-dense of the Dalbergia species (with African Blackwood being first). As is the case with many such woods of exceeding density, logs have a tendency to split from the center, outward, after being cut. Because of this, it is rare to find boards of any substantial size without defects; cracks and internal checks and tear-out are not uncommon. Grains are typically straight, though they can occasionally be wavy or interlocked. It has a fine, even texture and a high natural luster.

Its heartwood can vary from a muted orange- to reddish-brown, with dark brown or black thin stripes. Sapwood typically has a yellow tint and is commonly seen in boards.

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Sustainability: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II , but is not yet in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Inlays, veneers, musical instruments, tool handles, gun & knife handles, turned objects, and specialty items.

Comments: Although not considered endangered, Brazilian Kingwood is an exotic rosewood which has consistently been quite difficult to access in the US in anything other than small craft-sized pieces. It is a tough, durable wood — very resistant to both rot, and bug and worm infestation — making it a popular choice for custom gun handles. Its density makes it hard on cutting tools and saw blades, and it can be difficult to glue, due to its high natural oil content.

view >>Brazilian KingwoodMediumReddishKingwood, stock
Kiaat
Kiaat

Kiaat is closely related to African Padauk (both are species of the Pterocarpus genus), sharing its characteristics of being durable, extremely stable and easy workability. The wood is renowned for its great bug and termite resistance.

Although Kiaat is considerably less dense (than Padauk), it has an impressive strength-to-weight ratio which (combined with its durability) makes it a very versatile, useful wood — suitable for a great variety of applications. Its heartwood color can vary from a light golden brown to a medium brown with a reddish or purplish tint. Grains can be straight, wavy or interlocked; its texture ranges from fine to medium, with a nice natural luster. Kiaat has very good working properties, and turns, glues and finishes well.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is classified by the IUCN as being “Near Threatened.”

Common Uses: Furniture, boatbuilding, veneer, turnings, and other small wooden objects.

Comments: Kiaat has been utilized for centuries in a variety of applications in its native Africa. It is renowned for its strength and durability. It has extremely low shrinkage rates, and is considered to be a very dimensionally-stable wood.

Its relatively small tree size make larger boards difficult, if not impossible, to access, with small craft pieces being more commonly found.

This is a wood which remains very rarely seen in the US.

view >>African Teak, Mukwa, Muninga, Paddle-wood, Wild TeakEasyReddishno-stock
Katalox
Katalox

Although not a true Diospyros ebony species, Katalox earned its “Royal Mexican Ebony” nickname due to its great density (which actually supercedes all true ebonies, in that regard) and the fact that, as it ages, it turns considerably darker than when its initially cut and dried. It is known to be generally very durable, making the wood ideal for a variety of applications — although it can be very difficult difficult to resaw (density) and glue, due to its typically high natural oil content. The grains can be straight, irregular or interlocked; it’s texture ranges from fine to medium, with a nice natural luster.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, but its supply has been impacted by recent epidemic poaching across Central America (in particular, Mexico).

Common Uses: Inlays, fine furniture and cabinetry, flooring, guitar building, turnings, and other small specialty items.

Comments: Katalox is one of the most dense woods in the world. Despite its somewhat uncooperative working characteristics, its stability and handsome appearance makes the wood a popular choice with guitar luthiers and fine funrniture craftsmen, alike. Its heartwood is among the most durable of all the exotics in the world, but the sapwood can be susceptible to bug holes.

view >>Royal Mexican EbonyChallengingDark BrownKatalox, no-stock
Jelutong
Jelutong

The trees which produce this light-colored Southeast Asian softwood are better known for their sap being tapped and used in the production of latex. The wood is popular with carvers who know of it, as its lack of density makes it very easy to work, the wood has excellent dimensional stability and it holds a stain or finish very well. Any applications should be limited to those of the indoor variety, as the wood is decidedly non-durable.

Its generally straight (though occasionally interlocked) grains, fine to medium-fine, consistent texture and nice natural luster render exceptional working and finishing properties.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.

Common Uses: Latex production, patternmaking, carving, utility and small specialty wood items.

Comments: Before chewing gum manufacturers went the synthetic route, the latex derived from the Dyera Costulata trees’ sap kept the species in steady demand. In the SE Asian region to which it is indigenous, the wood is used in much the same fashion as Basswood.

Trees can grow to towering heights, so sizable boards are not uncommon. (… although finding available lumber in the US is uncommon.)

view >>JelutongEasyYellow / Whiteno-stock
Jatoba
Jatoba

Jatoba earned its nickname — “Brazilian Cherry” — from flooring manufacturers, as its natural color can often resemble the look of aged Cherry wood (medium to dark reddish-brown). Its resistance to rot and bug damage and excellent strength-to-weight ratio make it suitable for a variety of indoor and outdoor applications, although its density and typically interlocked grains can make it difficult to work and hard on blades.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.

Common Uses: Flooring, furniture, cabinetry, musical instruments, tool handles, shipbuilding, railroad ties, turned objects, and other small specialty items.

Comments: Jatoba is an excellent choice where strength, durability and moderate pricing is required. It is an excellent turning wood, and it stains, glues and finishes well. It continues to grow in popularity with acoustic guitar luthiers for its bright, well-rounded tonal spectrum, plus (despite its dense nature) it responds very well to steam bending.

view >>Brazilian CherryChallengingMedium Brownno-stock
Ironwood - Desert
Ironwood - Desert

Desert Ironwood (Palo Fierro in Spanish) only grows in the Sonoran Desert in Southwestern Arizona and the Northwestern part of Mexico.? It is one of the hardest and densest woods in the world. It ranges massively in color and can have some stunning figures as a result.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.? However, Desert Ironwood (known as Palo Fierro in Spanish) is considered a protected species in Mexico due to overexploitation and diminishing natural habitat.

Common Uses: Knife hands, carvings, turning

Comments: A very difficult timber to work with due to its density, but it does turn, polish and finish well.

view >>Desert Ironwood, Palo FierroChallengingVariegatedno-stock
Iroko
Iroko

Iroko is a very tough, durable wood that has been traditionally used in a multitude of applications in its native Africa. Its golden to medium brown color, course texture and interlocked grains give it an appearance very similar to that of Teak; although it is significantly less dense, it has been utilized in Africa in many of the same functions / duties that Teak has in other parts of the world. Despite its toughness (and interlocked grains), it is generally not difficult to work; it glues and finishes well.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, flooring, furniture, cabinetry, boatbuilding, construction, utility, turned items, and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: Iroko tends to darken with age. It is resistant to both rot and insect infestation, which makes it particularly well-suited for a variety of outdoor applications. This very tough wood has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. Although its typically interlocked grains can pose challenges, at times, when working, the wood glues and finishes well

view >>African TeakMediumMedium Brownno-stock
Ipe
Ipe

Ipe is known throughout its indigenous Central & South American regions as an extremely dense, durable wood, but also one that is quite difficult to work. The wood encompasses a variety of different species of the Handroanthus genus, so aesthetics and grains patterns can vary dramatically. The wood can have a deep chocolate brown color with reddish tint, or sometimes a greenish tint accented by traces of green, yellow, orange and/or red color. Often, its aesthetics are enhanced by rugged, dark contrasting striping.

Grains can be straight, irregular or interlocked; straight-grained pieces plane and turn well, although cutting tools and blades should always be at their very sharpest. Its texture can range from fine to medium, and it generally has a good natural luster.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring, decking, exterior lumber, veneer, tool handles, and other turned objects.

Comments: Ipe is well known in flooring, as the wood is virtually impossible to wear out. Its handsome aesthetics will stay attractive even after many years of service. (One of Ipe’s “trade names” in the flooring industry is “Brazilian Walnut,” though it has no relation to its Juglans-genus namesake.) Its great density and hardness makes it essentially impenetrable to insect attacks, also.

Some species have been known to contain powdery yellow deposits, referred to as “lapachol.”

Despite being nearly impossible to work (the wood is notorious for killing saw blades), Ipe examples can be quite stunning in appearance; mottled and striped figuring are sometimes found, and its deep, rich colors — which inspired the ‘walnut’ trade name — often possess a regal quality.

view >>Brazilian Walnut, Guayacan, LapachoChallengingDark Brownno-stock
Imbuia
Imbuia

Although its nickname is “Brazilian Walnut,” Imbuia bears little aesthetic resemblance to any members of the Juglans (true walnut) genus beyond its typical brownish colors. Grain patterns are generally wild and unpredictable, and occasional sap content can create a rather stunning contrast, with its rich, (typically) pale to medium muted golden hues. Although published data would leave on to surmise that it shares a very similar density with that of walnut (which it often does), Imbuia can be significantly more dense, at times, depending on growing conditions.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, flooring, veneer, boatbuilding, gunstocks, and turned objects.

Comments: Premium-grade examples of the species will feature unpredictable figuring, which compliments what we’ll call “delightfully irregular” grain patterns. This is a truly unique wood, and, while its supply in the US has never been large — keeping it off of a lot people’s radar — it seems to have experienced a steady decline over the last few years.

Large boards are not uncommon (when the species can be located and sourced), as fully mature trees can boast an impressive height and girth — it’s just not that readily available an exotic wood.

view >>Brazilian Walnut, ImbuyaMediumDark Brown
Hormigo
Hormigo

Granadillo is known throughout Central America as “the wood that sings.” It has long been considered a quite viable “rosewood alternative,” receiving greater attention and steadily growing in popularity since the exportation ban on Brazilian Rosewood, almost 25 years ago. Its density falls slightly under the mark of a typical rosewood, while not being near as oily. Granadillo is a quite beautiful wood. It has a base of brown-toned hues, highlighted by a variety of colors which can range from muted purples to reds, oranges and golds, Its pleasing aesthetics and great working and finishing properties make it a popular choice with guitar and furniture builders, alike. It has a natural luster and a high degree of chatoyance often emerges after finish sanding.

view >>Granadillo, MacacaubaMediumDark BrownGranadillo, stock
Holly
Holly

Holly is an interesting domestic wood. Those who know of it prize it for its consistent pale white color which typically slows little to no discernible grain patterns. Although it has traditionally been used as an ornamental or accent wood, it has enjoyed a recent surge of popularity among turners for its fine aesthetic and turning properties. In certain applications, it has been dyed black and used as an ebony substitute — although it lacks the requisite density for most musical applications.

The wood glues, stains and finishes well, however it can be difficult to work on account of its sometimes interlocked grains and the numerous knots that are commonly present.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Inlays, furniture, piano keys (dyed black), handles, turned objects, and other small novelty items.

Comments: Holly needs to begin the drying process almost immediately after it’s cut, as, otherwise, fungal discoloration can occur. For this reason, it is generally harvested during the winter months and not left to air dry for very long before making it into a kiln.

The wood is non-durable, so its use is exclusively confined to indoor applications. Products and items produced with this wood do best when a hardening protective finish is applied, and the wood is very good at maintaining its original color when such a clear finish is administered.

view >>American Holly, HollyMediumYellow / Whitestock
Hickory
Hickory

Hickory is perhaps best known for its pivotal role in “the great American pasttime,” as it remains the primary wood used in the production of baseball bats. It is also widely used as tool handles. Its heartwood is usually a light to medium brown, often with a reddish hue. Its sap is easily discernible, with a light cream to light yellow coloration. Although it is a non-durable wood, it is renowned for its toughness; it’s considered to be among the strongest of hardwoods indigenous to the US.

Despite being a prediminantly straight-grained wood (though sometimes wavy), Hickory is considered to be difficult to work. It has a medium texture, with open, medium-sized pores.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Baseball bats, handles, ladders, flooring, utility wood.

Comments: The reason Hickory remains the preferred choice of companies like “Louisville Slugger” is due not only to its density and toughness, but also its excellent shock resistance. Early Americans used the wood for the spokes in their horse wagons.

It also has an historical record of use as a utility wood. When burned, Hickory emits high thermal energy levels — making it the preferred fuel wood for wood burning stoves, dating back well over 100 years.

view >>Bitternut Hickory, Calico Hickory, Mockernut Hickory, Pignut HickoryEasyLight Brownno-stock
Goncalo Alves
Goncalo Alves

Goncalo Alves is known at least as commonly by its popular nickname, “Tigerwood” — given for its orange-hued primary color, and the dark striped (black or dark brown) which often decorates its surface. Its great durability, impressive strength, stiffness and hardness, generally cooperative working properties (although it can be difficult to glue, due to a high natural oil content), large tree sizes — which yield sizable boards — and regular supply, are factors which contribute to making Goncalo Alves a very popular choice among Central & South American woods made available to domestic markets in the US.

Grains can be wavy, interlocked or sometimes straight; its texture is fine, with a good natural luster.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring, veneer, furniture, cabinetry, electric and acoustic guitar building, carving, turned objects, electric and acoustic guitar building, and other small wood specialty objects.

Comments: The woods turns easily and finishes nicely, so, combined with its unique appearance (for such applications), it is a popular choice with furniture builders, as well as wood turners and carvers, alike.

It has become increasingly more popular with guitar builders in this new millennium, as Goncalo Alves has a nice density and resonance, and large boards are frequently obtainable at reasonable prices. Premium-quality pieces will display mottled or sometimes even, ironically (and more rare), tiger-striped figuring. 🙂

view >>TigerwoodChallengingVariegatedno-stock
Elm - Red
Elm - Red

Once a great American utility-wood stable, obtaining long boards of American Elm, presently, can prove to be a most difficult task. Elm’s heartwood colors range from a muted tan, to light to medium reddish brown. Its sapwood is easy to distinguish, being considerably paler in color. Recommended applications are those of a utilitarian nature, and preferably indoors; the wood has proven itself to be decidedly “non-durable,” and is known to possess poor dimensional stability. Its grains are typically interlocked and its texture is coarse. Although it glues, stains and finishes well, its diffult grains and texture makes resawing a difficult chore, with tearout not uncommon.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Boxes, baskets, furniture, hockey sticks, veneer, wood pulp, and papermaking.

Comments: The story with this wood is that its trees used to be among the most populated and frequently seen throughout North America. In times past, this medium-density wood was a heavily-used utility wood and was a staple in the paper / pulp industry … then Dutch Elm Disease showed up, and its numbers have been decimated since continually gathering steam. Across the midwest, from the 1950’s through the ’70’s, the population of Elms was decimated. By the late ’80’s, both Canada’ and the US’s Elms were, numerically, not far from extinction.

To its credit, the species has managed to not only survive, but maintain some longevity — due to its early seed-bearing tendencies, and quick rate of growth. Despite successfully enduring, the average life span of an Elm tree has been greatly foreshortened; very few trees survive long enough to reach full maturity.

view >>Red Elm, Slippery Elm, Soft ElmMediumPinkno-stock
Ebony - Macassar
Ebony - Macassar

Macassar Ebony is known for its typically striped appearance, with usual colors typically dominated by deep browns although green, yellow, burgundy, red, orange and even peach secondary colors can highlight more spectacular pieces. Sapwood can range from a dull tan to a light golden brown, or sometimes even a muted orange, peach or light pink. In addition to its constant demand with veneer mills, it is highly-prized by guitar luthiers: its great density gives the wood tremendous resonance, making it ideally suited for acoustic guitar back-and-sides or fretboards.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, high-end cabinetry, billiard cues, musical instruments, turning, crafts and other small specialty items.

Comments: Macassar Ebony is noted for its striped appearance, although finding long, consistent grain patterns can be difficult on longer pieces. Usually its stripes are fairly large and bold — often with twists and overlaps — although occasionally (more desirable) pieces with fine, tight-knit, consistent striping can be found.

Like many woods of comparable density, it can be difficult to work and hard on blades, but that is of little concern to those who have experience with this regal ebony species. Southeast Asia produces some astounding exotics; Macassar Ebony is, most certainly, one of its renowned, trademark species.

view >>Asian Striped Ebony, Makassar, Striped EbonyChallengingVariegatedEbony - Macassar, stock
Ebony - Indian
Ebony - Indian

Indian Ebony is a true ebony which has been commonly used as a substitute for Gabon Ebony, due to its similar aesthetics. With a jet black base, occasional brown to muted orange striping (from mineral deposits) and a sap which can range from pale yellow to tan, one could certainly be forgiven for mistaking one for the other. That said, Indian Ebony is an exotic wood in very short supply — more so even than Gabon. Its grains are generally straight or irregular, and its texture is fine. It has a high natural oil content, which yields a high degree of luster.

It also is a less dense and hard ebony, having a Janka Hardness rating slightly over 20% less than Gabon (2430 lbf vs. 3080). It is a very popular wood with turners, as it turns and finishes beautifully, and has good working properties. Indian Ebony is also regularly employed as an acoustic guitar fretboard, although supplies to the US luthier industry is sometimes sporadic.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is reported by the IUCN as being “data deficient.” Due to a recent history of exploitation, exporting has been restricted and is closely monitored in India and Sri Lanka.

Common Uses: Inlay, carving, regional utility wood, furniture, musical instruments and turned objects.

Comments: If you’re a guitarist who likes the look of ebony, but prefers a softer feel, Indian Ebony might be the perfect choice. While this is a pricey true (Diospyros) ebony, its price is generally about half of what you’d spend on the aesthetically similar Gabon Ebony. Despite not being as oily as Gabon, Indian Ebony still produces a wonderful natural luster and sheen when finished.

Traditionally, this wood has been widely used and quite popular in its indigenous South Asia region. Due to past exportation restrictions being placed on it, Indian Ebony has come into even more limited supply, here in the US.

view >>Black Ebony, Ceylon Ebony, East Indian Ebony, Indian EbonyChallengingVariegated
Ebony - Gabon
Ebony - Gabon

With an unceasing worldwide demand, Gabon Ebony remains one of the world’s most expensive exotic woods. Trees are small and slow growing, contributing to its high price tag. Given this, finding long, undefective boards is quite rare; such pieces always command premium prices. Its signature jet black heartwood (which can sometimes contain streaks of browns, golden browns and even greys), combined with its great strength, durability and density, gives it universal appeal with instrument craftsmen.

Its dark neutral color and ability to hold detail makes it very popular with wood turners and carvers, also. The wood’s very high oil content yields a magnificent natural luster when sanded, although, as would be expected, this characteristic can pose challenges when gluing.

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Sustainability: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II and is categorized as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Common Uses: Small ornamental items, such as piano keys and other musical instrument parts; stringed instrument figerboards; pool cues; carvings; turned objects; and other small specialty items.

Comments: Perhaps the most sought-after exotic wood in the world, as it is the traditional fingerboard “wood of choice” for orchestral stringed instruments (violins, violas, cellos, etc.) with its typically deep jet black heartwood. In the past few years, both the quality and supply of what has been made available to US markets has dipped, dramatically. In the face of an unwavering demand, this has resulted in greatly increased wholesale and retail pricing.

view >>African Ebony, Cameroon Ebony, Gabon Ebony, Gaboon Ebony, Nigerian EbonyChallengingBlackEbony - Gabon, no-stock
Ebony - Black & White
Ebony - Black & White

More commonly known as “Pale Moon Ebony” to US guitar luthiers and afficiandos, this Southeast Asian true-Diospyros ebony is, without question, the world’s most difficult, perplexing exotic wood — and, at times, one of its most visually stunning. (It’s also one of its most sought-after.) The wood is known for the bold jet black ink lines which adorn its creamy, pale yellow base. Both the volume and pattern of its lines are unpredictable, varying greatly from piece to piece. Grains can be straight, wavy or irregular; its texture is fine, with a nice natural luster. Its hardness and density are quite moderate for an ebony.

After being harvested or resawn, the wood exhibits a strong tendency to self-destruct — often changing shape, cracking and checking — if not quickly coated in wax. Although it’s not currently viewed as endangered, the wood has always been in short supply in the US, despite an unquenchable demand from custom guitar builders and wood enthusiasts, alike. Other than the difficulties in drying, it has good working properties; it machines, turns, glues and finishes well.

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Sustainability: Despite its not being listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the government of Laos has just recently (May, 2016) banned all rosewood and ebony exports.

Common Uses: Guitars (specifically, fretboards, acoustic guitar back and sides, and electric guitar “drop tops”), cabinets, furniture, turned objects, carvings, inlay, trim and other small projects.

Comments: Because of its noted self-destructive tendencies, the wood is coated in wax almost immediately after being harvested. Given this, what little makes it to the US market arrives with very high moisture levels, necessitating further drying. (This is where it gets tricky.) Experience has shown that the best drying results are obtained by leaving the wood coated in wax and just patiently allowing it to air dry. Any attempts to speed up this process are very risky; the wood usually winds up punishing the impatient!

Even when dried very slowly, the wood can still change shape. It’s not unusual, at all, to find pieces with major surface checks and cracks that occur even while under wax. For this reason, you see significantly more craft-sized pieces than larger, resawable boards (which typically command a premium price).

Recutting boards will speed up the drying process, of course, but attentive care must be taken to prevent warpage of the cut pieces.

Importation to the US has been through very limited, select channels, on an irregular basis, for a number of years. This wood is most always in short supply, while the demand remains constant. Rare Woods USA is very pleased to be able to offer a limited amount of larger boards and billets of this spectacular exotic wood.

Lumber orders to Southeast Asia can sometimes take 12 to 18 months or more to fill, ship and receive. With the recent banning of rosewood and ebony exportation by the Laotian government, we’re not sure how soon we’ll be able to restock (if at all). For the last several years, US importation of Black & White Ebony has been exclusively from Laos.

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view >>Black & White Ebony, Malabar Ebony, Pale Moon EbonyChallengingVariegatedstock
Ebony - Amara
Ebony - Amara

According to the only sources we could find willing to step up to the plate on this wood, Amara Ebony and Macassar Ebony are of the exact same species (Diospyros Celebica), with the difference put forth being that Amara is exclusive to Indonesia. Amara is known for its deep chocolate browns with pink striping; the difference in its coloration and that of typical Macassar Ebony being attributed to the soil conditions in Indonesia. Its grains are more likely to be wavy or irregular than straight, with a fine texture and nice natural luster.

Our experience yields a broader perspective, as we have found the wood sometimes with greens and reds — more similar to Malaysian Blackwood, at times, with hues darker and more muted — and devoid of any pink content. Pieces which more resemble Macassar have also contained gold – orange hues, in addition to pinks. It’s sap content is tan in color and, despite its density, it has good working properties.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices. The IUCN Red List does not even acknowledge this wood by name, although they have categorized Macassar Ebony as “Vulnerable.”

Common Uses: Veneer, musical instruments, furniture, turned objects, carvings, inlay, trim and other small projects.

Comments: A number of examples feature “landscape” grain patterns, giving credence to the school of thought that perhaps the wood is some sort of Malaysian Blackwood-Macassar Ebony hybrid, or is at least worthy of its own species designation.

While the wood is quite substantial, we found its density to be slightly less than that of Macassar Ebony and Malaysian Blackwood. This is a very unique exotic wood, and a species rarely seen in the US.

view >>Amara, Amara Ebony, Pink Ebony, Red EbonyChallengingVariegatedEbony - Amara, stock
Cypress - Swamp
Cypress - Swamp

Swamp Cypress is so named for its association with swamp land, with is roots often pertruding above the land or submerged into the swamp water where it grows. This light, pale yellow-brown wood is known for its durability, toughness and character. It is an important wood in its indigenous Southeast region of the US, as its versatility and workability lend it to a variety of diverse applications. It is typically straight-grained, although knots are commonly present. Other than the knots, the wood poses no difficult challenges for working, glue and finishing.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being “a species of least concern.”

Common Uses: Exterior construction, docks, boatbuilding, interior trim, and veneer.

Comments: Its commonly-seen pertruding roots (humorously known as “knees”) are sometimes harvested for large carvings. A variety known as “Pecky Cypress” –which is Swamp Cypress which has been peckered on, for many years, by birds — is quite popular throughout the southerneastern coastal belt for use as a decorative interior wood. Cypress is a very tough, moderately priced utility wood.

view >>Bald Cypress, Swamp CypressEasyLight Brownno-stock
Cumaru
Cumaru

Cumaru or Brazilian Teak golden brown in color.? It is extremely stiff, strong, hard and highly durable and can be an excellent substitute for Ipe for decking.? It can be difficult to work due to its density and interlocked grain.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being “a species of least concern.”

Common Uses: Flooring, decking, cabinetry, furniture.

Comments: Although known as Brazilian Teak, it is not related to the wood most commonly called Teak, Tectona grandis.

view >>Brazilian TeakChallengingMedium Brownno-stock
Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Cocobolo is a truly exotic wood that remains in high demand with fine furniture craftsmen and guitar luthiers, alike. It is renowned for its sometimes amazing array of colors and for being a very dense, stable, durable wood (making it well suited for both major industry applications). It is a true rosewood, with a density second only to African Blackwood.

The wood has been somewhat maligned, perhaps unfairly, due to what many claim to be the toxicity of its dust (due to this, many luthiers refuse to work with it). Our experience has shown that Cocobolo produces a huge, dense volume of dust, when being sanded. We find this dust to be no more “toxic” than any other true Dalbergia rosewood, with such affects being attributable more to the sheer mass of dust created than anything unusually threatening about the dust’s chemical makeup.

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Sustainability: This species is in CITES Appendix II, and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as “Vulnerable,” due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations.

There has been a lot of heavy poaching going on throughout Central America — particularly in Mexico — and this wood is the most coveted in the entire region. Get this wood while you can, as its exportation will more than likely only become more restricted in the next year or two.

Common Uses: Fine furniture, musical instruments, turnings, and other small specialty objects.

Comments: Cocobolo Rosewood is a wood that many guitar luthiers continue to turn to, as the remaining remnants of Brazilian Rosewood in the US disappear. Examples from the western mountains of Costa Rica and, particularly, Nicaragua can boast some incredible colors — covering the entire spectrum. Mexican Cocobolo and the Nicaraguan “Black Coco” are the two preferred varieties with furniture craftsmen.

As previously mentioned, the wood does put off an unusally dense volume of dust when being sanded. Be sure to cover your eyes and wear a respirator when sanding, and blow out your shop or work area after working with it. (You might even want to wear a long-sleeved shirt.) Take these precautions and you shouldn’t experience any ill health-related issues.

view >>Coco, Cocobolo RosewoodChallengingDark BrownCocobolo, stock
Cherry - Curly, American
Cherry - Curly, American

The beautifully figured version of American/Black Cherry.

Black Cherry is an important domestic hardwood, long associated with fine furniture and a favorite of many master craftsmen. When freshly cut, the wood has a tan to light brown color with a pink or red tint. The dark reddish-brown color it exhibits after aging is often imitated through the use of stains on other woods. The sap is pale yellow colored. Grains can be straight or irregular; combined with its moderate density, this makes the wood easily workable. The most desired examples are of the curly-figured variety, which can be bold and quite dramatic.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Cabinetry, fine furniture, flooring, interior millwork, veneer, musical instruments, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.

Comments: In addition to furniture crafting, Cherry has been used sporadically in guitar building; its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, stability and durability make it ideally suited for guitar neck or body wood. This wood is considered to be one of the most cooperative, user-friendly hardwoods is the world, although it can sometimes be resistant to absorbing a stain. (… but who would want to stain it??)?? 🙂

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view >>Curly American Cherry, Curly Black CherryMediumReddishno-stock
Cherry - American
Cherry - American

Black Cherry is an important domestic hardwood, long associated with fine furniture and a favorite of many master craftsmen. When freshly cut, the wood has a tan to light brown color with a pink or red tint. The dark reddish-brown color it exhibits after aging is often imitated through the use of stains on other woods. The sap is pale yellow colored. Grains can be straight or irregular; combined with its moderate density, this makes the wood easily workable. The most desired examples are of the curly-figured variety, which can be bold and quite dramatic.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Cabinetry, fine furniture, flooring, interior millwork, veneer, musical instruments, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.

Comments: In addition to furniture crafting, Cherry has been used sporadically in guitar building; its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, stability and durability make it ideally suited for guitar neck or body wood. This wood is considered to be one of the most cooperative, user-friendly hardwoods is the world, although it can sometimes be resistant to absorbing a stain. (… but who would want to stain it??) 🙂

view >>American Cherry, Black Cherry, CherryEasyReddishno-stock
Chechen
Chechen

Although not a true Dalbergia rosewood, this beautiful, quite versatile wood holds many similarities. Chechen can be visually stunning — with green, red, orange and gold hues (and brown & black lines) adorning its luxurious medium-brown bases, and occasional figuring which can range from subtle to quite dramatic. The wood has become increasingly more popular with veneer manufacturers, furniture craftsmen and guitar luthiers over the course of the last two decades, as it is a very durable, easy-to-work and -finish wood that is moderately priced for an exotic import.

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Sustainability: This species is not currently listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, furniture, cabinetry, flooring, musical instruments, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.

Comments: Chechen has endured a stigma which is actually a commonly held fallacy — one powerful enough to generate its nickname, “Black Poisonwood” — that working with this wood is dangerous. While some have claimed to have adverse reactions from working with it, those who work with it on a regular basis state that the opposite is true. It is the harvested tree’s bark which is poisonous to the touch (essentially, in the same way as Poison Ivy); once the lumber has been processed, there are no harmful effects from handling the resawn boards.

Aesthetic qualities, as well as weight and density, can vary greatly, depending on the specific environmental conditions of its growth.

view >>Black Poisonwood, Caribbean Rosewood, Che ChenMediumMedium Brownstock
Cerejeira - Crotch
Cerejeira - Crotch

Cerejira is an important wood in the dry portions of central and southern South America. It is noted for its beauty, durability, strength and stability, thus making this tough, versatile wood ideal for a variety of applications. Left undisturbed, trees can grow to towering dimensions — producing valuable, coveted slabs which are renowned for their incredibly detailed, 3D-like crotch sections.

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Sustainability: This species is not currently listed in the CITES Appendices; it has yet to be recognized by the IUCN.

Common Uses: Construction, furniture, caibetry, veneer, and other applications.

Comments: Larger trees are cut almost exclusively for their often quite dramatic slabs — which appeal to South American furniture craftsmen, as well as exotic slab importers around the world. Despite being generally very popular with those familiar with it, Cerejira has managd to stay off of a lot of people’s radar. (… including the IUCN!) Many of the highly figured logs are consumed by the veneer industry.

view >>Amburana, Blonde Mahogany, Brazilian Oak, Cumbaru, Palo TrebolMediumLight Brownstock
Cerejeira
Cerejeira

Cerejira is an important wood in the dry portions of central and southern South America. It is noted for its beauty, durability, strength and stability, thus making this tough, versatile wood ideal for a variety of applications. Left undisturbed, trees can grow to towering dimensions — producing valuable, coveted slabs which are renowned for their incredibly detailed, 3D-like crotch sections.

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Sustainability: This species is not currently listed in the CITES Appendices; it has yet to be recognized by the IUCN.

Common Uses: Construction, furniture, caibetry, veneer, and other applications.

Comments: Larger trees are cut almost exclusively for their often quite dramatic slabs — which appeal to South American furniture craftsmen, as well as exotic slab importers around the world. Despite being generally very popular with those familiar with it, Cerejira has managd to stay off of a lot of people’s radar. (… including the IUCN!) Many of the highly figured logs are consumed by the veneer industry.

view >>Amburana, Blonde Mahogany, Brazilian Oak, Cumbaru, Palo TrebolMediumLight BrownCerejeira, no-stock
Cedrorana
Cedrorana

This somewhat obscure, seldom-seen South American wood is typically a light to golden brown color; with large open pores, marked by prominent red vessel lines, decorating its grainy surface. It is difficult to differentiate the sap, as it is only slightly lighter in color and not clearly demarcated. Its pores are some of the largest of any commercial lumber in the world, with vessel diameters routinely between 300 and 500 micrometers. The dark contrast of the pores give the wood a very unique “veiny” look that is popular with some Latin American furniture craftsmen.

Its grains are typically straight, but can be slightly interlocked. It has a coarse texture, but it will sand smooth and produce a nice natural luster after doing so.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Furniture (occasional), turned objects, construction/utility wood, and paper (pulpwood).

Comments: The wood is moderately durable, but offers little resistance to insect attack; it is best utilized in indoor applications. It works easy and glues and finishes well, which is why it is also a popular choice of the small segment of wood turners familiar with it. Cedrorana (or “Tornillo,” as it is also commonly known) is a relatively inexpensive wood with a lot of character.

Cedrorana is a moderately durable wood, but is considered to be susceptible to insect attack.

view >>Iacaica, Mara Macho, Parica, Tornillo, YacayacaMediumReddishno-stock
Cedar - Western Red
Cedar - Western Red

Boasting rich hues — ranging from mellow ambers, to reddish cinnamons and sienna browns — Western Red Cedar is one of the most unique, beautiful softwoods in the world. Its grains are straight, and its texture is uniform and fine-grained, with a satin-like luster. It’s durability makes it ideally suited for a variety of outdoor applications. It’s easy to work, and glues and finishes well.

Despite its lightweight and modest density, the wood has tremendous dimensional stability.

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view >>Western Red CedarEasyYellow / Pinkno-stock
Cedar - Spanish
Cedar - Spanish

Not a true cedar (of the Cedra genus), Spanish Cedar is actually more closely related to true mahoganies, as all are in the Meliaceae family. Weight, Density and mechanical properties can vary, depending on climate and conditions. Most of what is made available to the US market is plantation-grown, which produces wood that is lower in density, and paler in color than that cut from trees grown in forests. Its grains are straight and its texture is fine; combined with its modest hardness and density, the wood is very easy to work, and glues and finishes well.

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Sustainability: This species is in CITES Appendix III, and is listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, cabinetry, musical instruments (flamenco and classical guitar soundboards), humidors, and boatbuilding.

Comments: The CITES Appendix III listing for Spanish Cedar applies to the countries of Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia, Guatemala, and Peru (voluntary restructed exportation). It remains freely exported from other Latin American countries. The wood is renowned for its impressive strength-to-weight ratio and (resultingly) great resonance, which is why it has been a standard choice as the soundboard for classical and flamenco guitars built in these regions for generations.

view >>Cedro, Spanish CedarEasyReddishno-stock
Cedar - Japanese
Cedar - Japanese

Japanese Cedar is the national tree of Japan, where it is highly-prized for the scented, strong-but-lightweight timber it produces. It’s significance extends beyond that, as its impact on Japanese culture is reflected by the fact that it is found planted at numerous scared sites throughout the country. The wood is reddish-pink in color, straight-grained and medium textured; it glues, stains and finishes well. Its impressive strength-to-weight ratio and excellent working properties makes it ideal for all varieties of construction applications.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is categorized as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN.

Common Uses: Shipbuilding, commercial & residential construction, furniture, woodturning and carving. (Incense is derived from its leaves.)

Comments: It is also important to note that this lumber is waterproof, which is why, historically, it has been utilized in Japanese boat and shipbuilding; and has been prized for centuries across its indigenous regions. Natural forests in Japan that include this species are now very rare, with the bulk of Cryptomeria timber coming from commerical tree plantations.

As you would expect from any wood bearing the word “Cedar” in its name, knots are not uncommon with this wood; otherwise, it has very cooperative working traits.

view >>Cryptomeria, Japanese Cedar, Japanese Red-Cedar, Japanese Redwood, Japanese Sugi Pine, Peacock PineEasyYellow / Pinkno-stock
Cedar - Himilayan
Cedar - Himilayan

Himalayan Cedar is an important timber tree in Pakistan, Kashmir and NW India. Its wood is noted for being strong and durable mostly utilized in construction, carpentry and furniture applications in its indigenous regions. The trees are also known for the fragrant essential oil they produce (distilled from wood chips and sawdust), which is used throughout Northeast Asia to protect livestock from mosquitos, gnats and other airborn pests; it also has anti-fungal properties. Heartwood ranges from a light tan to light brown with a reddish tint. Grains are typically straight; it is fine, even textured with a high natural luster. The wood is reputed to have excellent working properties, as well as an impressive strength-to-weight ratio.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is classified as “a species of least concern,” by the IUCN.

Common Uses: Construction timber, furniture, carpentry, door & window frames, bridges, railway cars and essential oil production.

Comments: Himalayan Cedar was introduced to Europe in 1822, and to the United States, nine years later, in 1831. Transplanted trees typically pale in comparison with examples from its indigenous regions, where, left undisturbed, trees can reach towering heights. The wood is prized throughout the world; not just for its strength, but also for its pleasant fragrance and its durability and resistance to bugs and insects.

The name ‘Deodar’ evolved from the word “devad?ru,” which is a Sanskrit word that translates to “timber of the gods”. The Himalayan Cedar tree is a sacred tree in Hinduism.

view >>Deodar, Deodar Cedar, Himalayan CedarEasyYellow / Pinkno-stock
Cedar - Aromatic
Cedar - Aromatic

A firm, stable hardwood, Aromatic Red Cedar is renowned for its durablility, resistance to both rot and insects, and its wonderful, fresh, natural fragrance. With is bright pinkish red colors contrasting with a light, pale yellow base, the wood is rarely ever stained or painted. Another aesthetic trademark is the typical scores of knots which decorate its two-toned surface.

The wood is fine grained, although knots and silica content can complicate what is otherwise a fairly cooperative set of working properties. It glues and finishes well, although it is very common to leave this wood unfinished so not to squelch its antiseptic aroma.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (reported by the IUCN to be a “species of least concern”).

Common Uses: Chests, closet and chest linings, carvings, outdoor furniture, fence posts, birdhouses, pencils, bows, humidors and other small wooden specialty items.

Comments: This is a very popular wood for storing precious articles of clothing and personal effects, and any applications where its fragrance can offset more odiferously offensive items (such as shoes). 🙂 Trees are quite adaptable; despite a typically slow growth rate, Red Cedar is capable of growing in a variety of climates and soil conditions. (Typically, a warmer the climate yields faster growth.)

Rarely do trees exceed 50 feet in height at full maturity, although if left undisturbed they have been known to reach levels of 90 to 100 feet. Wide boards are seldom found; just as is finding a clear (knot-free) piece!

view >>Aromatic Cedar, Aromatic Red Cedar, Eastern Red Cedar, Pencil Cedar, Red Cedar, Red Juniper, SavinMediumYellow / Pinkno-stock
Cedar - Alaskan
Cedar - Alaskan

Alaskan Cedar has been a wood embroiled in controversy with botanical and wood experts, historically, as the wood has experienced its genus reclassified on six different times over the course of the last two centuries. Despite its relatively light weight and density, it is a very durable and quite versatile species — having seen duty in numerous indoor and outdoor applications. The wood has also become a popular choice with luthiers, for acoustic guitar soundboards.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (reported by the IUCN to be a “species of least concern”).

Common Uses: Carving, boatbuilding, siding, flooring, decking, outdoor furniture, musical instruments (flutes; acoustic guitar soundboards), boxes and chests, and various utility/construction applications.

Comments: Contrary to other published data (by the Wood Database), the typical growth range for these trees in the wild is only between 40 and 80 feet tall. Undisturbed specimens have reached heights of 100 feet, and some have been reputed to be as old as 3500 years! Despite its modest weight and density figures, it is a very tough wood; its trees hold their own through some very challenging conditions. This makes it a very versatile wood, suitable for a host of different applications.

view >>Alaskan Cypress, Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Nootka, Nootka Cypress, Yellow Cedar, Yellow CypressEasyYellow / WhiteCedar - Alaskan, stock
Butternut
Butternut

Known commonly by its nickname, “White Walnut” (a nickname which is earned, as it is a member of the true walnut genus, Juglans), Butternut is considerably lighter and less dense than its walnut (Juglans genus) compatriots; combined with its light weight and low density and hardness, it is very easy to work. Courtesy of its fluted trunks, the lumber produced by Butternut trees can have some irregular, but visually-striking, grain patterns. Its pleasant light tan coloration has a very pastel look, and certain examples can exhibit a pink or reddish tint.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. That said, many Butternut trees in North America have been afflicted by a fungal disease known as “Butternut canker.” There has been a rapid decline in its population, prompting the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list it as a “species of federal concern.” The tree has received similar attention in Canada, also.

Common Uses: Veneer, carving, furniture, interior trim, boxes, and crates.

Comments: This is a very soft, easy-to-work wood. Despite its light weight and lack of density, it is a fairly durable wood. (… although, like all walnuts, the wood is susceptible to insect attack.) Its recent sharp decline in population could lead to this tree getting federal protection, as it already is receiving this attention from Canada. Like its walnut cousins, the wood turns, glues and finishes well.

view >>Butternut, White WalnutEasyLight Brownno-stock
Bubinga
Bubinga

As most of you already know, this is a very popular African import. There are multiple species of the Guibourtia genus that are known as Bubinga, so colors and aesthetics can vary dramatically. A variety of different, quite strunning figures often decorate its grains (pommelle, waterfall, mottled and wildly flamed); its base color can range from a lighter pinkish red to light- to medium-brown. Trees can grow to towering proportions, so the larger specimens are often cut into large, live-edge slabs.

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Sustainability: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II but not on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; although there have been some rumblings that this status could be changing, amidst a downturn in (US) supply over the last year or so.

Common Uses: Veneer, inlays, musical instruments, fine furniture, cabinetry, turnings, and other specialty items.

Comments: Bubinga is well known for its use as a rosewood substitute. [Ironically, perhaps, more strikingly figured examples (with pommelle or waterfall figuring) can fetch prices greatly eclipsing typical rosewood price thresholds.] The wood has become hugely popular and constantly in demand with veneer mills, furniture craftsmen — who love building desks and conference tables with the often stunning, huge slabs — and progressive guitar luthiers. Its nickname, “African Rosewood,” can be very misleading, as the wood is not of the Dalbergia species, and not all wood sold as “African Rosewood” is Bubinga (or is even of the Guibourtia species).

Over the last year, we’ve seen supplies in the US dip — leading to price increases on the wholsale and retail level, and causing some sources to speculate that Bubinga could possibly be drawing the attention of CITES and / or the IUCN in the very near future.

view >>KevazingoMediumReddishBubinga, stock
Boxwood - Castelo
Boxwood - Castelo

Closely related to the more well-known (in the US) Lemonwood — with both being members of the “Calycophyllum” genus — this unique South American wood is generally in short supply through US channels. Although it is not a true boxwood (of the “Buxus” genus), Castelo Boxwood has a very similar pale yellow to light brown color palette and has proven popular in the domestic craft wood market, as it turns, glues and finishes well.

It has fair working properties; its grains are generally straight (although sometimes slightly interlocked). It has a fine, smooth texture, and is regarded as moderately durable.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Archery bows, carvings, inlay and turned objects.

Comments: Castelo Boxwood is not an easy one to source in the US. It is slow-drying wood, and often sells in a green or partially-green state. It is a tough wood; its small, tightly-grouped pores can make boards somewhat resistant to being cut, despite its generally cooperative working characteristics. Trees do not grow to be large (at all), so supplies are limited, and prices are generally reflective of this.

view >>Castelo Boxwood, Ivorywood, Palo BlancoMediumYellow / Whiteboxwood-castelo, no-stock
Boxwood
Boxwood

While the term “boxwood” has become quite convoluted over time, this species — Buxus macowanii — is considered a close cousin to ‘the original boxwood.’ (Buxus sempervirens). It’s pale, creamy yellowish hues make this quite popular with wood turners and, especially, carvers, as Boxwood is renowned for its capacity to hold crisp, fine details and it has a smooth, very fine texture.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Carvings, chess pieces, small musical instruments (flutes, recorders, woodwinds, etc.), rulers, handles, turned objects, and other small specialty items.

Comments: Trees rarely make it much passed 20 feet in height; trunk diameters max out at only 6 inches in diameter. Not surprisingly, this limits its supply to primarily small, craft-sized pieces. The very small logs (if you can even call them that) its trees produce are often cracked, from its tough, dense nature. Beware of other species, similar in color and density, being sold as boxwood.

The Boxwood we carry ships direct to us, from Africa.

view >>African Boxwood, BoxwoodEasyYellow / WhiteBoxwood, stock
Boire
Boire

Boire is known throughout Africa to be a tough, durable wood, despite a Maple-like density. It is reputed to remain smooth under friction, which makes it ideally suited for its primary use in flooring. The sapwood of Boire is pale brown in color; its heartwood is typically medium brown to bronze, with dark streaks (and sometimes other hues, such as oranges and yellows, intermingled). The species has interlocked grain, and fine and uniform in texture. It has a similar odor to Cedar. Other than the tearout commonly associated with interlocking grains, the wood has good working properties.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Flooring, furniture, cabinets, joinery, veneer, gunstocks and general construction.

Comments: This is not an exotic wood which has a boatload of information available with regard to it. Most all of the major US flooring websites that offer this wood share the exact same descriptions and specs, obviously copied one from another. In it, they list its Janka Hardness rating as 940 lbf. Conversely, Ken Goldstein’s 2009 “Janka Hardness Test For Hardwoods” (http://ejmas.com/tin/2009tin/tinart_goldstein_0904.html) shows Boire having measured at 1326 lbf. Perhaps its density varies greatly, as the latter figure (1326) represents more than a 40% increase over the figure commonly given by US flooring industry sources.

view >>African Walnut, Benin Walnut, Bodowood, CongowoodEasyReddishno-stock
Bocote
Bocote

With colors ranging from its typically golden brown base, to its dark brown- and black-striped accents, the surface of Bocote is perhaps best known for the many tiny “eyes” adorning the grain patterns of the highly-decorated, more visually stunning examples of the species. (These eyes are not to be confused with knots, as they pose no issues when machining.) The striking aesthetics higher-grade pieces possess make this wood coveted among furniture and cabinet craftsmen, as well as both acoustic and electric guitar luthiers.

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Sustainability: Not currently listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. That said, given the recent poaching epidemic taking place in Mexico over the last several years, this status — as well as other Mexican woods, such as Ziricote, Camatillo and Katalox — could be changing in the very near future.

Common Uses: Fine furniture, cabinetry, flooring, veneer, boatbuilding, musical instruments, gunstocks, turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: Despite its oily nature, Bocote is surprisingly cooperative when gluing. It also turns and finishes well, although certain pieces may contain varying degrees of silica, which can dull blades when cutting. Sometimes the heartwood base can be a bright but muted orange with pieces grown south of Mexico.

view >>BocoteMediumLight BrownBocote, stock
Bloodwood
Bloodwood

Also known as “Satine,” Bloodwood is an exotic South American import that continues to grow in popularity here in the states. It’s dark, savory red tones, untypically, do not fade, mute or darken much over time. It is known for its “satiny,” highly-chatoyant finish. While the heartwood typically is comprised of red hues, it is known to have variances ranging from oranges to pale yellows, interspersed. It’s impressive density makes it ideal for an electric guitar fretboard or an acoustic guitar back and sides; wood turners love it, as well, for its fabulous, unique aesthetics and very reasonable price.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Carvings, trim, inlays, furniture, guitars, knife handles, and turned objects.

Comments: The reason this wood continues to grow in popularity in the US — with guitar builders, gun & knife manufacturers (handles) and wood turners — is due to the exceptional aesthetics, for which the species is known, and the very reasonable board-foot prices for which these boards generally sell. Boards of exceptional quality will command a premium, but still represent a whole lot of ‘bang for the buck’ for an imported exotic wood.

view >>Bloodwood, SatineChallengingReddishBloodwood, stock
Blackwood - African
Blackwood - African

Without question, the densest and most un-rosewood-like of the Dalbergia’s (for our money, at least!), African Blackwood is a consistent favorite with acoustic guitar luthiers, wood turners, carvers and fine furniture craftsmen, alike; it remains one of the world’s most coveted musical woods. African Blackwood often appears almost completely black, with its grains hardly discernible. (… thus the name. After sanding, a deep, very dark chocolate color emerges.)

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Sustainability: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II and the IUCN reports it as being “near threatened.”

Common Uses: Musical instruments (guitars, clarinets, oboes, etc.), inlay, carving, tool handles, and other turned objects.

Comments: Given its trees’ very small profile and the fact that they also commonly grow somewhat twisted (rather than straight up), finding long, straight boards of African Blackwood is a daunting task. It is so dark and dense, it’s almost inconceivable that it is a true Dalbergia-genus rosewood. Expect exceptional pieces to command a premium, as prices have increased — while supplies have drastically decreased — over the last several years.

view >>African Blackwood, MpingoChallengingBlackBlackwood - African, stock
Blackwood - Acacia
Blackwood - Acacia

A close cousin to Hawaii’s coveted Koa, Australian Blackwood is growing in popularity as it becomes more known in both guitar- and furniture-building circles. Its name is misleading, as there are no black hues ever seen in its grains. Highly-figured lumber is not uncommon, nor are pieces with a shimmering chatoyance, reminiscent of Koa. Hardwood colors can range from a light golden brown to various dark shades of brown; streak and highlights of various differing colors is not uncommon. Sap colors can range fron tan to a dull light gray, and is clearly demarcated. Its grains can range from straight to wavy to interlocked, and its texture is typically fine, with an impressive natural luster.

Other than the occasional tearout issues associated with lumber with interlocking grains, the wood is very easily worked. It turns, glues, and finishes well. Australian Blackwood is also bends easily, which — combined with its toughness and durability — has made it an historically popular wood in Australia for boat building.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, furniture, cabinetry, musical instruments, boat building, gunstocks, turned objects, and other specialty wood objects.

Comments: Aesthetics can vary greatly with this emerging Australian Koa-alternative. Larger boards are becoming more sought after by acoustic guitar luthiers in the US (for back-and-sides sets), although they remain in demand for furniture and cabinet makers, domestically. Not unlike Koa, the more sought-after boards are the highly-figured ones, which naturally command a significantly higher price.

view >>Acacia Blackwood, Australian Blackwood, Australian Hickory, Black Wattle, Lightwood, Mudgerabah, Sally Wattle, Tasmanian BlackwoodMediumMedium Brownno-stock
Birch - Flame
Birch - Flame

Heartwood can vary from pale yellow to a light, muted reddish brown; sapwood is grayish-white. There are many species of Birch, worldwide; it is one of the most popular woods, ironically, for both veneer and utility applications. Figured pieces are the more desirable for veneer, with wide, dramatic curly figuring (similar to Cherry) decorating the surface.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common uses: Veneer, plywood, boxes, crates, turned objects, interior trim, and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: American Birch works easily — it turns, glues and finishes well — although most boards have very little natural luster. It’s a versatile wood that can be used for a number of different applications, but it needs to be protected, as the wood will decay when exposed to the elements. (… and if left unprotected will rot.)

view >>American Birch, Birch, Birch Maple, Yellow BirchEasyYellow / WhiteBirch - Flame, stock
Berlinia
Berlinia

Known in the US, primarily, as either “Ebiara” or, its nickname, “Red Zebrawood,” its heartwood can range anywhere from a pale yellow to a (more typical) muted reddish-brown. Darker colored stripes in patterns (which can be symmetrical or irregular) are how the comparisons to Zebrano are drawn, although they are related: each of their respective genera are part of the Detarieae tribe, in the subfamily, Caesalpinioideae.

Grains are general straight or interlocked. Although its texture is medium to coarse, it has a high degree of natural luster and can display figure and chatoyance. It works well — cutting, turning, gluing and finishing smoothly — although tearout with interlocked grains is not uncommon.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, although several other Berlinia species in Africa (not exported to the US) are said to be either endangered or vulnerable.

Common Uses: Veneer, furniture, cabinetry, turned objects, and other small speciality wood items.

Comments: Although Berlinia’s introduction to the US exotic woods market was a rather recent one, it has quickly proven to be an interesting, unique lumber. It works easy, and has aesthetic appeal. For being in a moderate price range, this somewhat obscure west African wood should continue to further gravitate into the industry limelight, as luthiers, furniture craftsmen and woodturners, alike, become better acquainted with it.

view >>Ebiara, Poculi, Red ZebrawoodEasyMedium Brownno-stock
Beech - European
Beech - European

Like American Beech, this wood features pale cream coloration, also often augmented by a pink or muted light reddish-brown hue. Its large supply across the continent and typically modest price range makes it one of the most popular and commercially important hardwoods in Europe. Its straight grains and medium texture give comparable working and steam-bending properties to its American first cousin; it machines, turns, glues and finishes with ease.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Lumber, veneer, flooring, boatbuilding, furniture, cabinetry, musical instruments (piano pinblocks), plywood, and turned objects.

Comments: European Beech is slightly denser than its American first cousin (at roughly the same dried weight). In optimal conditions, trees can grow to be very large — yielding long, wide boards. Its toughness, strength and excellent bending characteristics has seen the wood utilized in marine applications for centuries throughout the European continent.

Also akin to its American counterpart, European Beech wood is non-durable and unstable to the point of commonly experiencing movement in service. Optimal lumber would be quartersawn and dried as thoroughly as possible (in the 6% range).

view >>Beech, European BeechEasyYellow / Whiteno-stock
Beech - American
Beech - American

Both American Beech and its European counterpart are known for their pale cream coloration, which is often augmented by a pink or light- to medium-colored muted reddish-brown hue. Its medium texture and typically straight grains (which can be wavy, also) give it excellent working properties; its cuts, turns, glues and finishes very well and has a moderate natural luster.

Flatsawn pieces usually have very plain-looking aesthetics; the bulk of which is used for utility purposes. Conversely, quartersawn pieces typically exhibit a silvery fleck pattern — which lends the wood well to furniture and musical instrument applications, with more exquisite examples often finding their way to veneer mills.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common uses: Lumber, veneer, flooring, barrels, crates/pallets, railroad ties, musical instruments, furniture, turned objects, and other small wooden objects.

Comments: Its similar hardness and density has seen it used as an alternative to maple in some applications. The wood is decidedly non-durable and susceptible to insect attack. It responds well to steam-bending, but its stability can be suspect.

Beech veneer has a different appearance than lumber. Veneer sheets (cut at only 1/42″ thickness) require the wood to first be steamed. This darkens the wood, producing a pleasant golden brown color.

American Beech is a common, plentiful wood and, thus, priced rather modestly.

view >>American Beech, Beech, BeechwoodEasyYellow / Pinkno-stock
Basswood
Basswood

Basswood’s color ranges from a pale off-white to pale yellow, to a very light muted brown. The species is known for its excellent strength-to-weight ratio, although its lack of density can make it susceptible to damage if placed under excessive weight. While species from the Tilia genus are referred to as either “Lime” or “Linden” in Europe, in North America it?s commonly called “Basswood.”

Its straight grains and fine texture — combined with its soft character — make Basswood decidedly easy to work. It glues and finishes well, but does not bend well. Its consistence, light color and light density and hardness (bordering on that of a softwood) makes it a popular wood for hand carvings.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Carvings, wagon boxes, musical instruments (electric guitar bodies), cheap furniture, veneer, plywood, utility wood and wood pulp and fiber products.

Comments: Basswood has come into vogue over the three decades as an electric guitar body wood, given its lightweight, resonant quality. Its softness and light, rather indescript appearance makes it a favorite among hand carvers, also. For use in any finished products, a hard, protective finish is recommended, as basswood is decidedly non-durable.

view >>American Basswood, Basswood, Lime, LindenMediumYellow / Whiteno-stock
Avodire
Avodire

Avodire is another wood sometimes utilized as a Mahogany substitute (which is appropriate, since both are in the Meliaceae family), with similar aesthetics and coppoerative working properties. Typical colors range from a pale yellow to cream, and a variety of figured grain patterns are commonly found — typically accompanied by dramatic levels of chatoyance — which makes it very popular with veneer mills. Its sap can be difficult to differentiate from the heartwood. While its grain patterns can be straight, wavy, irregular or interlocked, its texture is fine and it has an impressive natural luster.

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Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Common Uses: Veneer, cabinetry, furniture, millwork, and plywood.

Comments: Highly-figured pieces can be quite stunning. The wood is very stable, and has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. The wood glues and finishes well, and, overall, has working properties very similar to mahogany.

Continued UV-ray exposure turns Avodire’s color to more of a darker golden yellow.

view >>African SatinwoodEasyYellow / Whiteno-stock
Ash - American
Ash - American

Along with Hickory and Oak, Ash is one of the most commonly used utility woods in the US. It’s toughness and excellent shock resistance makes it a popular choice for tool handles. Its grains are typically straight, and its coarse texture has drawn comparisons to that of Oak. Combined with its modest price, White Ash’s easy working properties, generally light overall color and good gluing and finishing characteristics make it a popular wood for a variety of practical and utility applications.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common uses: Flooring, millwork, boxes/crates, baseball bats, and other turned objects such as tool handles.

Comments: White Ash is the tallest growing of the true ash (Fraxinus) species in the US, and is the most commonly seen of the ash hardwoods. Its color ranges from a light beige to light brown, with medium to dark brown grain stripes.

Although not nearly as popular as Swamp Ash for such applications, it is occasionally utilized as an electric guitar body wood, as it has good resonance properties.

view >>American White Ash, White AshMediumYellow / Whitestock
Anegre
Anegre

Indigenous to the tropical regions of East Africa, Anigre has been used primarily as an interior wood; it is decidedly non-durable, and thus not recoomended for outdoor applications. The wood’s aesthetics can vary greatly, as Anigre is comprised of three seperate Pouteria-genus species. Its colors can range from pale yellowish to orangish-brown wood, to a pale pinkish-brown — sometimes with additional highlight coloration. Anigre typically darkens to a golden-to reddish brown over time, with repeated UV ray exposure.

Examples can be quite beautiful — and sometimes stunning, with curly and mottled figuring being not uncommon. Its hues tend to be generally pastel in nature, so it makes a very complimentary, aesthetically unimposing wood for a variety of interior applications. Grains are typically straight but can occasionally be interlocked. Its texture is medium and it has a nice natural luster.

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Sustainability: Anigre is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but some species are reported by the IUCN as being “conservation dependent.” Essentially, from the IUCN’s perspective, if any of the current conservation programs protecting these respective species were to cease it would likely result in their rendering a “vulnerable” or “endangered” Red List status.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, cabinetry and furniture; in board form it?s used for boatbuilding, general carpentry, and other light construction uses.

Comments: Formerly classified in the genus “Aningeria,” Anigre is currently placed in the Pouteria genus — sometimes described as a ?wastebasket taxon? where out-of-place genera are categorized.

Depending on specific species, Anigre has varying degrees of silica content. While possessing a moderate hardness and density, it has generally cooperative working properties, but can gum up cutters and blades.

view >>Aniegre, AnigreEasyYellow / Whiteno-stock
Andiroba
Andiroba

Used as both a Mahogany substitute and an everyday utility carpentry wood throughout its indigenous regions (scattered across Central & South America), Andiroba is generally easy to work, and turns, glues and finishes well. This pale reddish-brown colored lumber is a durable wood — similar to Honduran Mahogany, in that regard. Aesthetically, its typically more on the bland side (compared to a Mahogany), although more desirable examples of the species can be highly-figured.

Grains are typically straight, although they can be wavy or interlocked, and the wood is fine textured and has a good natural luster.

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Sustainability: Andiroba is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, although a single species from Ecuador, Carapa Megistocarpa, is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, cabinetry, furniture, flooring, boat decking, interior trim, stairs and turned objects.

Comments: When quartersawn, Andiroba can exhibit a ribbon figure that looks similar to Sapele. While also tauted as a Mahogany substitute, Andiroba is not commonly seen in the US.

The wood slightly darkens as it dries and will continue to darken with repeated exposure to UV rays.

view >>Andiroba, CrabwoodMediumReddish Brownno-stock
Alder
Alder

Considered to be the most abundant hardwood in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, Red Alder has long been used in the region for furniture and cabinetry production — as well as being a popular choice for electric guitar bodies dating back to when the instrument first went into mass production, in the 1950’s. Ranging in color from a light tan to reddish brown, Alder has a soft, lightweight stature — which makes the wood very easy to work, and it finishes and glues well. Alder is typically straight-grained, although knotty pieces can sometimes be wavy or irregular.

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Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, furniture, cabinetry, millwork, pallets, musical instruments (electric guitar bodies), and chip/pulp wood.

Comments: Red Alder is usually sold in two different grades: knotty, and clear. Clear grades are most desired by cabinet and furniture crafters. Many such tradesmen compare the wood’s cooperative disposition to that of Black Cherry.

Although technically a hardwood, care must be taken with Alder until finished as its surface can be rather soft (thus, denting easily). The wood is decidedly non-durable, so confining its use to indoor applications and treating the wood with some type of hardening finish (such as lacquer) is recommended.

view >>Alder, Red Alder, Western Red AlderMediumReddish Brownno-stock
Afrormosia
Afrormosia

In its native Africa, this handsome, rot- and bug-resistant, very durable wood has been used as a substitute for Teak (thus earning its nickname, “African Teak”). While having a similar look, it also has working and mechanical properties which mimic Teak while having none of its oiliness. (Afrormosia has a well-established track record for holding up in the most extreme conditions, proving the comparisons well justified.) Its heartwood color can be a muted tan, muted gold or any of a series of light- to medium-colored browns (from very muted to slightly, in hue), highlight by darker stripes, of varying degrees and coloration, which can run the length of its typically straight or wavy (though sometimes interlocked). Despite its similar “fuzzy” appearance (to that of Teak), it is fine grained, presenting a nice natural luster when sanded. Over time, the wood will darken, rendering an appearance often more like that of Black Walnut than of Teak. Despite being considerably harder than Teak, Afrormosia is generally very workable, and it turns, glues and finishes well.

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Sustainability: This species is in CITES Appendix II, and is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Common uses: Boatbuilding, veneer, flooring, cabinetry, furniture and turnings.

Comments: Afrormosia is a very durable wood, and it works well with either hand or machine tools. Despite being tough, it is also flexible — having been used in boatbuilding in Africa for centuries. It turns, glues and finishes well. Its sometimes wavy grain patterns can make it a very aesthetically pleasing exotic wood, as well. This versatile wood has proven itself throughout the respective indigenous regions of its native continent of Africa.

Afrormosia is well known and popular throughout Europe, boasting a pedigree of being a preferred wood for home interiors: providing a rich, luxurious option for cabinetry, trim and fine furniture. Given its moderate price range, great durability and handsome looks, this wood has untapped potential here in the US — with woodturners, furniture makers and musical instrument craftsmen, alike.

view >>African Teak, AfromosiaMediumLight Brownno-stock
Abura
Abura

Botanical name: Mitragyna ciliata

Family:?Rubiaceae

Distribution: Tropical West Africa

Properties:
Medium density, not durable. Works well and takes a good finish.

Description and uses:
This light coloured timber is used for interior work only, mainly shopfitting, but could be used for flooring, furniture etc. Not a structural timber.

view >>AburaEasyYellow / White