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Black Stinkwood has long been popular for use in fine furniture building in South Africa (where it is indigenous), due to its fine, tight, typically straight grains and a resolute durability that is often compared to Teak. It’s heartwood color can vary from almost black to dark brown, to more medium brown tones with a reddish tint; the sap is easily distinguished by its contrasting pale yellow coloration. Despite its inherent density, Stinkwood possesses very cooperative working properties. It has beautiful finishing characteristics and a rich natural luster.
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Like all other members of the true maple genus (Acer), European Sycamore is a hardwood whose sapwood is greatly preferred and sought after, versus its heartwood. It sap can vary from an almost pure white to a light cream color with tinting ranging from a golden yellow to a muted red; heartwood is generally medium to dark reddish-brown colored. Grains are generally straight, but can be wavy. Combined with its fine texture, it is easy to work (although, like all maples, it can burn easily) — turning, gluing and finishing well, with a good natural luster. Not unlike its Acer-genus counterparts, pieces can sometimes be dramatically figured.
Boards are typical found quartersawn, as European Sycamore is the lumber renowned for its preferential, and historical, use as a body wood for stringed orchestral instruments (violins, violas, etc.), possessing superb resonance qualities and full-spectrum frequency response at a very moderate weight.
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African Walnut is derived from the Lovoa Trichilioides tree — a monoecious, evergreen that is indigenous to Central and Southern Africa’s tropical regions. Its heartwood color can vary anywhere from a golden brown to a reddish brown, often with darker streaks and/or portions. Over time, its color will darken to deeper brown tones. The sapwood is narrow, grey to beige in color, and clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Despite it not being a true walnut (of the Juglans genus), it shares many of the basic characteristics.
African Walnut’s grains are typically straight or slightly interlocked — yielding good working properties — with a fine to medium, consistent texture and a fine natural luster. Finding figured pieces is not uncommon. It turns, glues and finishes well. The wood is considered moderately durable.
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Ziricote is one of the most popular, visually striking exotic woods in the world. Renowned 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.
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.¬† While it has never been an inexpensive wood, recent revelations of epidemic poaching across Mexico have 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.
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Himalayan Cedar is an important timber tree in Pakistan, Kashmir and north-western India. Its wood is noted for being strong and durable mostly utilized in construction, carpentry and furniture applications in its indigenous regions. The trees are also known for the fragrant essential oil they produce (distilled from wood chips and sawdust), which is used throughout Northeast Asia to protect livestock from mosquitos, gnats and other airborne pests and it also has anti-fungal properties. Heartwood ranges from a light tan to light brown with a reddish tint. Grains are typically straight; it is fine, even textured with a high natural luster. The wood is reputed to have excellent working properties, as well as an impressive strength-to-weight ratio.
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Boire is known throughout Africa to be a tough, durable wood, despite it’s Maple-like density. It is reputed to remain smooth under friction, which makes it ideally suited for its primary use in flooring. The sapwood of Boire is pale brown in color; its heartwood is typically medium brown to bronze, with dark streaks (and sometimes other hues, such as oranges and yellows, intermingled). The species has interlocked grain, and fine and uniform in texture. Other than the tear-out commonly associated with interlocking grains, the wood has good working properties.
This is not an exotic wood which has a boatload of information available with regard to it. Most all of the major US flooring websites that offer this wood share the exact same descriptions and specs, obviously copied one from another. In it, they list its Janka Hardness rating as 940 lbf. Conversely, Ken Goldstein’s 2009 “Janka Hardness Test For Hardwoods” (http://ejmas.com/tin/2009tin/tinart_goldstein_0904.html) shows Boire having measured at 1326 lbf. Perhaps its density varies greatly, as the latter figure (1326) represents more than a 40% increase over the figure commonly given by US flooring industry sources.
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