Shop By Species

Shop By 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 & shop >Ciricote, Siricote, ZiricoteMediumDark Brownstock
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 & shop >ZebrawoodChallengingVariegatedstock
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 & shop >Dikela, WengeMediumDark Brownstock, Wenge
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 & shop >Brazilian Tulipwood, Jacaranda Rosa, Pau de Fuso, Pinkwood, TulipwoodMediumPinkstock, Tulipwood
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 & shop >Ceylon Satinwood, SatinwoodChallengingYellow / WhiteSatinwood - East Indian, 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 & shop >Rosewood - MadagascanMediumVariegatedstock
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 & shop >East Indian Rosewood, Indian RosewoodEasyVariegatedstock
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 & shop >African Rosewood, False MopaneEasyReddishRosewood - African, 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 & shop >Amaranth, Nazareno, Peltogyne, Purple Heart, VioletwoodMediumPurplepurpleheart, 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 & shop >Red IvoryMediumPinkPink Ivory, 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 & shop >PearEasyPinkPear - Swiss, 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 & shop >African Padauk, PadaukEasyReddishstock
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 & shop >OlivewoodChallengingVariegatedOlive - Wild, 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 & shop >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 & shop >Birdseye MapleChallengingYellow / WhiteMaple - Birdseye, 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 & shop >American Mahogany, Big Leaf Mahogany, Brazilian Mahogany, Genuine Mahogany, Honduran Mahogany, Honduras MahoganyChallengingReddishMahogany - Crotch, 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 & shop >Brazilian KingwoodMediumReddishKingwood, stock
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 & shop >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 & shop >American Holly, HollyMediumYellow / Whitestock
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 & shop >Asian Striped Ebony, Makassar, Striped EbonyChallengingVariegatedEbony - Macassar, 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 & shop >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 & shop >Amara, Amara Ebony, Pink Ebony, Red EbonyChallengingVariegatedEbony - Amara, 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 & shop >Coco, Cocobolo RosewoodChallengingDark BrownCocobolo, 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 & shop >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 & shop >Amburana, Blonde Mahogany, Brazilian Oak, Cumbaru, Palo TrebolMediumLight Brownstock
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 & shop >Alaskan Cypress, Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Nootka, Nootka Cypress, Yellow Cedar, Yellow CypressEasyYellow / WhiteCedar - Alaskan, 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 & shop >KevazingoMediumReddishBubinga, 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 & shop >African Boxwood, BoxwoodEasyYellow / WhiteBoxwood, 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 & shop >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 & shop >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 & shop >African Blackwood, MpingoChallengingBlackBlackwood - African, 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 & shop >American Birch, Birch, Birch Maple, Yellow BirchEasyYellow / WhiteBirch - Flame, 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 & shop >American White Ash, White AshMediumYellow / Whitestock