Snakewood stands out as one of the most aesthetically unique exotic woods in the world. Its muted light yellow-, orange- or red-tinted brown underlying base color is covered by tight, uniform patterns of darker brown or black patches which give the appearance of snakeskin. The wood is straight-grained with a fine texture. The wood is extremely dense, so much so that it can be brittle and splinter, or even shatter, when re-sawn; cutting edges should be at there sharpest whenever working Snakewood. In spite of this difficult working properties, it does turn and finish quite well — taking a high polish and displaying an impressive natural luster.
Because of its relatively slender profile — marked by a thin, narrow trunk — thick boards are never seen. Snakewood can be commonly found in the form of small logs or half-logs.
Sustainability: This species is not currently listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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: Snakewood is a “first cousin” to Bloodwood, which is also a species of the Brosimum genus. The wood has become very popular for crafts, gun and knife handles and guitar fretboards, due to its very striking, unique appearance. The genus is noted for its great strength, density and hardness, which, naturally, makes it harder to work and tough on cutting tools and machinery.
Because of this, you often find pieces of irregular measurements, and — due to the trees’ very thin trunks — which are not very wide. You will never see long, wide boards of this species, and it is considered the most expensive exotic wood in the world when you calculate cost per board-foot vs. the actual usable portions which are produced from log / half-log resaws.