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Afrormosia

Native to West Africa, Afrormosia is a handsome, rot and bug resistant, extremely durable wood has been used as a substitute for Teak (Tectona grandis), thus earning its nickname, “African Teak”. While having a similar look, it also has working and mechanical properties that mimic Teak, whilst 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 superb 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, offering crisp joints and it turns, glues and finishes very well.

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, cabinetry, flooring, furniture, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
afrormosia
Andiroba

Andiroba is used as both a Mahogany substitute and a general utility carpentry wood throughout its indigenous regions that are scattered across Central & South America. It is widely used for furniture and flooring in it’s native geographical areas. Andiroba is generally easy to work, and the species 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 quite 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.

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, cabinetry, flooring, furniture, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
andiroba
Ash - American

Along with Hickory and Oak, Ash is one of the most commonly used utility woods in the US and is native to Eastern and¬† Central North America. It’s toughness and excellent shock resistance, makes it a popular choice for tool handles, baseball bats, furniture and flooring 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.

Common Uses:
boxmaking, flooring, turnings
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Common Uses
ash-american
Ash - Swamp

Swamp Ash draws its name not from a particular Fraxinus-genus species, per se, but is a reference to any species of Ash (Fraxinus) whose roots system lies submerged, or partially submerged, in water. It is the softest of all ashes, which makes it the most desirable for electric guitar builders; lightweight and resonant, yet still stable enough for instrument building. Swamp Ash is shock resistant, very easily workable by hand or machine, responds well to steam bending and is easy to sand, glue and stain.

Common Uses:
boxmaking, flooring, musical Instruments, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
ash-swamp
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 and sometimes wavy, give it excellent working properties. American Beech cuts, turns, glues and finishes very well and has a moderate natural luster.

Flat-sawn 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.

Common Uses:
flooring, furniture, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
beech-american
Beech - European

Like American Beech, this wood features pale cream coloration, also often augmented by a pink or muted light reddish-brown hue. It’s 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 and it machines, turns, glues and finishes with ease.

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, cabinetry, flooring, furniture, musical Instruments, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
beech-european
Berlinia

Known in the US, primarily as either “Ebiara” or, its nickname, “Red Zebrawood,” Berlinia’s 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 tear-out with interlocked grains is not uncommon.

Common Uses:
cabinetry, furniture, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
berlinia
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.

Common Uses:
boxmaking, crafting, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
birch-flame
Birch - Masur

Masur Birch (also known as Karelian Birch) is not a species in of itself, but rather a particular grain figure that occurs in various species of European Birch.  The result is a beautiful marble like figure Рa mix between burl and birdseye.

The cause of this figure is uncertain. ¬†Some say that it comes from a tree’s reaction to invasion by the larvae of the Agromyzia carbonara beetle, but the general opinion seems to be that it is hereditary, classifying the name of the variant as Betula pendula var. Carelica. ¬†Regardless of the exact origin of the figure, it provides us with stunning and unique looking lumber, ¬†just begging to be showcased in some fine woodworking. It is most commonly used in accent details, turned objects, knife handles and other small specialty items.

Common Uses:
fine furniture, knife handles, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
birch-masur
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 from 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 tear-out, issues associated with lumber with interlocking grains, the wood is very easily worked. It turns, glues, and finishes well. Australian Blackwood also bends easily, which combined with its toughness and durability,  has made it an historically popular wood in Australia for boat building.

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, cabinetry, furniture, gun stocks, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
blackwood-acacia
Blackwood - African

African Blackwood is native to the seasonally dry regions of Africa, from Senegal eastwards to Eritrea and southwards to the northern parts of South Africa. 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.)

Common Uses:
carving, handles, inlay, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
blackwood-african
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.

Common Uses:
carving, furniture, inlay, knife handles, lutherie, trim, turnings
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Common Uses
bloodwood
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 that higher-grade pieces possess, make this wood coveted among furniture and cabinet craftsmen, as well as both acoustic and electric guitar luthiers.

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, cabinetry, fine furniture, flooring, gun stocks, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
bocote
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 it 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.

Trees rarely make it much passed 20 feet in height and 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) it produces are often cracked, due to its tough, dense nature. Beware of other species, similar in color and density, being sold as boxwood.

The Boxwood that we carry has been carefully air dried over many years and originates from South Africa.

Common Uses:
carving, chess pieces, handles, musical Instruments, specialty items, turnings
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Common Uses
boxwood
Boxwood - Castello

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), Castello 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.

Castello Boxwood is not an easy species 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.

Common Uses:
bows, carving, inlay, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
boxwood-castello
Bubinga

As most of you already know, this is an extremely popular African import. Found across equatorial Africa, 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 stunning figures often decorate its grains (pommelle, waterfall, mottled and wildly flamed). The base color of Bubinga 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.

Bubinga is well known for its use as a Rosewood substitute. Ironically, the more strikingly figured examples of Bubinga with pommelle or waterfall figuring can fetch prices greatly eclipsing typical rosewood price thresholds. This wood has become hugely popular and is 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).

Common Uses:
cabinetry, fine furniture, inlay, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
bubinga
Canarywood

Canarywood grows across South America from Panama to Southern Brazil.  Its heartwood can range from pale yellow to pink, orange and dark reddish -brown.  Some of the prettiest pieces can have all the color variations in one piece.  Other pieces, more consistent in color, tend at times to resemble Cherry.  Being both durable and relatively hard, but still fairly easy to work, it gives woodworkers a good opportunity to work with a color-variable, but less expensive exotic hardwood from South America.

Common Uses:
bandings, boxmaking, inlay, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
canarywood
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 sacred 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.

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, carving, construction, furniture, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
cedar-japanese
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 sapwood, 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.

Common Uses:
construction, furniture, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
cedrorana
Chakte Viga

This vibrant Central America wood can features primary colors ranging from orange to golden brown (with gold, red and sometimes even green accent coloration). It is thought to be the closest relative to Brazilwood (famous for its use in stringed-instrument bows), and Chakte Viga shares many of the same acoustic properties. Grains are straight, but sometimes interlocked — otherwise, this wood works easily, and finishes well. It has a fine texture and excellent natural luster. Sap is a pale off-white to pale yellow.

Chakte Viga is a wood that has been starting to emerge from relative obscurity over the last decade or so, being one of the lesser-known and -demanded woods from the tropical Central America region. We feel it has a huge untapped potential as a guitar tonewood, as well as in fine furniture production in the US. The wood has some very subtle aesthetics, sometimes exhibiting a 3D-like shimmering chatoyance after being finished with clear lacquer.

Common Uses:
fine furniture, furniture, inlay, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
chakte-viga
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.

Common Uses:
cabinetry, flooring, furniture, specialty items, turnings, veneer
Detail
Common Uses
chechen
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 (russet) color it exhibits after aging is often imitated through the use of stains on other woods. The sapwood 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.

Common Uses:
cabinetry, fine furniture, flooring, millwork, specialty items, turnings, veneer
Detail
Common Uses
cherry-american
Cherry - American Curly

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 (russet) color that 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.

Common Uses:
cabinetry, fine furniture, flooring, millwork, specialty items, turnings, veneer
Detail
Common Uses
cherry-american-curly
Cocobolo

Cocobolo is a truly exquisite exotic wood that remains in high demand with fine furniture craftsmen and guitar luthiers, alike. It is renowned for its often amazing array of colors and for being an extremely dense, stable and 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.

Common Uses:
fine furniture, specialty items, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
cocobolo
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 darker and more muted hues¬† and devoid of any pink shades. 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.

Common Uses:
carving, furniture, inlay, specialty items, turnings, veneer
Detail
Common Uses
ebony-amara
Ebony - Black & White

More commonly known as “Pale Moon Ebony” to US guitar luthiers and aficionados, 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 re-sawn, 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.

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 as 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, 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.

Common Uses:
cabinetry, carving, furniture, inlay, lutherie, specialty items, trim, turnings
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Common Uses
ebony-black-white
Ebony - Brown

Brown Ebony is not a true Ebony and it is slightly odd that this species derives its name from a genus generally known for its black coloring.  Like true ebonies though, Brown Ebony is very dense and hard to work.

This South American species is popular for turning, musical instruments and decorative pieces.

Common Uses:
carving, furniture, inlay, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
ebony-brown
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.

Common Uses:
carving, furniture, inlay, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
ebony-indian
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.

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.

Common Uses:
cabinetry, crafting, pool cues, specialty items, turnings, veneer
Detail
Common Uses
ebony-macassar
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.

Common Uses:
cabinetry, carving, flooring, furniture, lutherie, specialty items, turnings, veneer
Detail
Common Uses
goncalo-alves
Granadillo

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.

Common Uses:
furniture, handles, inlay, musical Instruments, specialty items, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
granadillo
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

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, cabinetry, flooring, furniture, gun stocks, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
imbuia
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.

Common Uses:
construction, decking, flooring, handles, turnings, veneer
Detail
Common Uses
ipe
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.

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, cabinetry, construction, flooring, furniture, specialty items, turnings, utility lumber, veneer
Detail
Common Uses
iroko
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.

Common Uses:
carving, knife handles, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
ironwood-desert
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.

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, cabinetry, flooring, furniture, handles, specialty items, turnings
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Common Uses
jatoba
Katalox

Although not a true Diospyros ebony species, Katalox earned its “Royal Mexican Ebony” nickname due to its great density (which actually supersedes 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 re-saw (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.

Despite its somewhat uncooperative working characteristics, Katalox’s stability and handsome appearance make the wood a popular choice with guitar luthiers and fine furniture 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.

Common Uses:
fine furniture, flooring, inlay, lutherie, specialty items, turnings
Detail
Common Uses
katalox
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.

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, furniture, specialty items, turnings, veneer
Detail
Common Uses
kiaat
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.

Common Uses:
gun stocks, handles, inlay, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
kingwood
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.

Common Uses:
gun stocks, specialty items, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
koa
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.

Common Uses:
carving, furniture, specialty items, turnings
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Common Uses
leadwood
Leopardwood

Leopardwood is so named for the tightly-grouped flecks which cover its surface. It is almost exclusively quartersawn, which displays its dramatic flecking in leopard-spot-like patterns (thus, the name). It is medium to dark, reddish brown in color. . Prior to being sanded, the flecked portion’s slightly elevated positioning on the wood’s surface gives it a true 3D look. It is fairly difficult to work and it’s uneven texture can cause tearout issues when boards are planed.

Common Uses:
cabinetry, fine furniture, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
leopardwood
Lignum Vitae - Argentine

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.

Common Uses:
boatbuilding, construction, handles, turnings, utility lumber
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Common Uses
lignum-vitae-argentine
Limba

Limba has been an important wood in Africa due in part to its universal popularity. Although its population was considered threatened from over-exploitation in the first half of the 20th century, a concerted effort was made to preserve the species and expand its natural range. Regional and national programs from the ’50’s through the ’70’s across West and Central Africa were quite successful. Limba has a characteristic 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). Its sapwood is only slightly lighter in color than its heartwood 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 nor durable wood, so such finishing is recommended.

Common Uses:
furniture, turnings, veneer
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Common Uses
limba
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.

Common Uses:
cabinetry, furniture, turnings, veneer
Detail
Common Uses
louro-preto
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