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 conditions of growth — is decorated by dark brown striping of varying degrees (ranging to almost black), hence its name. The striping is typically long and fairly uniform when the wood is quartersawn, but wavy and erratic 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 tear-out.¬† The wood glues well and usually possesses a pleasant, moderate to high luster, which can make for impressive finishing.
While flatsawn 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.¬† While its demand is based almost exclusively on its aesthetic appeal, Zebrawood is a strong, stiff lumber, once dry.
This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Why We Love This Wood
With our African roots, we just can't get enough of the gorgeous patterns found in Zebrano. We can't decide whether we prefer the consistent, stripy quartersawn pattern or the wild, wavy flatsawn pattern.
A Popular Choice in
|Main Color Group||Variegated|
|Avg Dry Weight - LB/BF||4.2|
|Avg Dry Weight - KG/M3||805|
|Janka Hardness - LBF||1830|
|Janka Hardness - N||8160|
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Spalted Tamarind comes from South East Asia. The decay/spalting gives the wood awesome spiderweb type patterns that add character and excitement to its appearance. The spalting is most prevalent in the sapwood which is prone to attack from bugs and fungus which cause it.
It is moderately difficult to work, but turns and finishes well. Sometimes the rot is more endemic than is obvious from looking at the surface of the lumber result in some wastage (lost pieces).
Take care to use good dust collection and a dust mask, as the fungal spores add more to the air than dust alone.
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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.
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Longhi is an African wood with similar working properties to its more well-known cousin, Anegre. Its color varies from a greyish-white to beige to pinkish-brown color, which slightly darkens with age and UV-ray exposure. Its generally light appearance makes sapwood difficult to distinguish. Its grains are typical straight (though occasionally interlocked) and its texture ranges between fine and medium-fine. It can sometimes possess mottled or subtle tiger-striped figuring.
The wood must be carefully dried, as it is susceptible to fungus. It is considered to be moderately durable, and moderately stable. Longhi has a solid strength-to-weight ratio, which makes it a popular choice for flooring and decking.
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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.
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.)
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Considered to be the most abundant hardwood in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, Red Alder has long been used in the region for furniture and cabinetry production — as well as being a popular choice for electric guitar bodies dating back to when the instrument first went into mass production, in the 1950’s. Ranging in color from a light tan to reddish brown, Alder has a soft, lightweight stature — which makes the wood very easy to work, and it finishes and glues well.
Red Alder is usually sold in two different grades: knotty, and clear. Clear grades are most desired by cabinet and furniture crafters. Many such tradesmen compare the wood’s cooperative disposition to that of Black Cherry.
Although technically a hardwood, care must be taken with Alder until finished as its surface can be rather soft (thus, denting easily). The wood is decidedly non-durable, so confining its use to indoor applications and treating the wood with some type of hardening finish (such as lacquer) is recommended.
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