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.
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.