Already know what you're looking for?
Species Discovery Filters
Black Walnut has long been considered one of the US's most durable hardwoods, and one of its most popular. Prized for its typically deep chocolate color (often highlighted by red or purple streaks and/or tint), straight grains (though sometimes irregular), fine texture and warm luster, the wood has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio and is considered to have solid dimensional stability after drying. Its cooperative grain structure and moderate density give Black Walnut excellent working properties, which have made it coveted by fine furniture craftsmen for centuries.
While there remains a robust domestic supply, the demand for this wood also remains constant. It is considered a premium domestic hardwood.
Aesthetically, the wood is similar, also, to its African first cousin, Sapele (with both being species of the Entandrophragma genus) -- although Sipo is more pourous, and has richer color.
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.
Its grains are typically straight (although sometimes wavy, or even interlocked) with a high natual oil content. This generally makes for favorable working characteristics, although the wood does possess a high silica content.
The wood has a high silica content, as well -- so resawing the wood can quickly dull and gum up blades.
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.
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.
As far as working characteristics are concerned, Yellowheart is generally very cooperative for a fairly dense and durable wood. (Although sharp blades may be necessary with some interlocked-grain boards.) It glues and finishes very well. The wood holds its color well: slowly darkening, to a degree, as it ages, often giving it an even more striking appearance.
Its grains can be straight, wavy or interlocked, with generally a medium texture and nice natural luster (due in part to a somewhat high silica content). It is a tough, durable wood, usually possessing fairly cooperative working properties -- although its silica content can gum up blades and cutting tools, and there can be tearout issues with boards with interlocking grain patterns. Shedua turns, glues and finishes quite well.
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.
Loosely translated as “Ironwood”, Pau Ferro is the common name for a variety of lumber species. The East African variant we have here (also known as Pau Rosa to some) has a glorious color palette. A dark brown base with reds, oranges and yellow tones - it reminds us of the African sunset…
It is hard and heavy to work, but the vibrant colors make it worth the effort! Pau Ferro / Pau Rosa was originally part of the Swartzia genus, but it was reclassified as Bobgunnia in the last 10-15 years. It turns and finishes well.
The wood turns excellently, and it is easy to nail, crew or glue. It polishes to a smooth, fine finish, and is considered to be a very dimensionally stable wood.
Drying the wood is a slow, burdenous process. Like many woods which are comparably hard, logs and boards have a tendency to crack while drying, although Pau Rosa is considered very durable and dimensionally stable, there after.
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.
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.
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.<br><br>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.
Yellow Poplar is moderately durable, in spite of its inherent light weight and low density, which has seen it commonly used for crates and pallets throughout the US.
Redheart is a unique Central / South American hardwood characterized by a reddish base color -- ranging from dull to bright pink, pinkish-red or red -- with streaks and highlights diverse in color, from darker red tones, to yellows, oranges and even occasional purples. Grains range from irregular to wild (although sometimes straight, also), and can often be multi-dimensional or overlapping -- often to very dramatic effect, especially when vibrant secondary colors are present.
Its texture is fine and smooth, although it does not possess much natural luster. It works, turns, glues and finishes well, as would be expected with a wood of its moderate density.
Despite Redheart's rather moderate weight, hardness and density, the wood can burn easily when resawn, if blades and cutting tools are not sharp. Such burning produces a black tar-like resin which adheres to the wood's surface and requires patient sanding.<br><br>With its sometimes stunning aesthetic qualities, Redheart has been a popular turning wood; it is starting to appear more frequently in custom electric guitar building (necks, fretboards, etc.), also.
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.
Denser than East Indian Rosewood, Honduran Rosewood is well known for being the preferred wood for Marimba bars, with its ringing, well-rounded tonal properties. It compares well to Brazilian Rosewood (many claim it actually superior), producing a well-balanced acoustic guitar, with great projection and strong lows and highs. (In fact, during the '50?s and '60?s, the great flamenco guitar crafters considered it to be the only acceptable substitute to Brazilian Rosewood.)
Honduran Rosewood's grain lines are unusually tight and straight (though sometimes wavy or interlocked). The color ranges from a medium tan to a brownish brick red color, medium brown (sometimes with a purplish tint) or even a medium to dark burgundy, with occasional dark brown or black ink lines. Due to the wood's density and high oil content, it can be difficult to cut, machine and glue. Its texture can range from fine to medium; (not unlike Braz Rw) it is porous, and those pores are usually medium- to large-sized. As would be expected -- given its oily nature -- the wood has a rich natural luster.
Honduran Rosewood has grown difficult to obtain in recent years, due to a poaching epidemic in Belize which victimized the species in 2011 and 2012. Despite a wane in its supply lines, demand for the wood remains constant. Every major source we could find were unanimous in listing "2200 lbf" as the Janka Hardness rating for this wood, but we consider this figure to be very suspect. Most knowledgeable sources compare its weight and density to Brazilian Rosewood. The same sources list Bocote's Janka Hardness at 2200 lbf, also, and the Hon Rw examples we have handled are far more dense than any Bocote. (Some darker examples were more along the lines of a Cocobolo-type density.)
The wood typically has a high natural oil content, which can make gluing challenging.
Known in the US primarily as "Genuine Mahogany," Swietenia Macrophylla, its scientific name, is what most in the exotic lumber industry consider to be the true species when referring to "Mahogany." Historically, it has been a very economically important wood throughout the Latin America region. Its color can range from a pale pink to a light to medium reddish-brown, and it is renowned for its chatoyance. Grains vary; although generally straight, they can be interlocked, irregular or wavy, also. Its texture is fine and uniform, with a rich natural luster.
Lumber which originates from the wood's indigenous natural regions is considered to be significantly more durable and stable than its plantation-grown counterparts.
Once a mainstay in the cabinetry, furniture and guitar building industries, here in the US, Genuine Mahogany has become increasingly more difficult to source since its inclusion in CITES' Appendix II, in 2003. It is still imported, although a significantly high percentage are of plantation-grown origin -- which is less desirable and considered to be of inferior quality to that grown in native habitats.
While the net effect of all this has been to create a 'mahogany substitute' segment of the exotic wood import industry -- bringing woods such as Sapele and African Mahogany more into favor -- the demand for Genuine Mahogany hasn't waned.
Its grains are typically interlocked (though sometimes straight), making it difficult to work. The wood has a high natural oil content, which can make it difficult to glue but gives it a beautiful luster and renders an excellent finish. Its texture is typically not as fine as mahogany, shading more towards the 'medium' portion of the scale.
Ambrosia Maple is a general term attached to a variety of Acer (true maple) species whose boards included colorful bug "trails" -- caused by a fungus carried by the Ambrosia Beetle which penetrates the tree sap as the beetle eats into the tree, and it spreads both through the worm hole and up and down in the tree (carried along by the sap) and causes discoloring of the wood in streaks. The two primary species which draw the beetle's attention are Acer rubrum (Red Maple) and Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple), although -- with there reputedly being more than sixty different Acer species indigenous to North America -- this unusual phenomenon is certainly not confined to just the two. Weight and density can vary greatly -- depending upon the actual species -- the typical varieties of maple figuring can also be present, often creating some very unique, visually spectacular specimens.Like any other maple, it is easily worked; generally cooperative through all phases. It's not much of a stretch to imagine -- since bugs have, quite obviously, already penetrated the wood's surface -- that the wood is decidedly non-durable, although it is generally stable enough for use in furniture and guitars. Its surface is typically darker than most sap maple (often featuring secondary / additional discolorations and other long streaks), although it retains the same high degree of natural luster.The scientific explanation is that the impregnated Ambrosia Beetle burrows into the maple tree (presumably for a safe place to deposit larvae), carrying fungi on its feet into the wood -- which serves as food for the insect's offspring, when they hatch. The fungal residue left behind as it digs into the maple can cause discoloration throughout the wood, via the tree's sap, in addition to the dramatically contrasting (mostly) blue and (sometimes) green trails which surround the small tunnels they chew. The beetles prefer wood that is not soaking wet, but that is in the beginning stages of drying. Once kiln dried, they will not re-infest.