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Latest News – April 2017

Hello all

With April (a.k.a. the month of 4 day weeks) nearly behind us, it will soon be time to return to some kind of normality. Here’s hoping that business picks up accordingly, despite the desperate political shenanigans we’ve been witnessing. 

We have not let the distractions get the better of us though, and have been keeping extremely busy. So, as always, there is a lot to update you on….

Feb Fest: a great success!

Thanks to everyone who attended our big clearance sale in February. The level of interest and attendance exceeded our wildest expectations and has already got us excited about how we can make it bigger and better next year.

We still have a few bundles left over from that sale and although they aren’t available at quite the knockdown prices of the day, we can still offer them at good discounts. Please get in contact if you would like us to send you the list.

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Our happy Feb Fest prize-winner collecting his beautiful sample book

New species: Katalox & Hormigo

We are excited to announce that we now have limited stocks of Katalox (Swartzia cubensis) and Hormigo (Platymiscium spp.) – also known as ‘Macacauba’. As luck would have it, Wood Database has these two timbers in number one and two slots in their article entitled “Ten Best Woods You’ve Never Heard Of”.

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A stunning guitar set made from Hormigo a.k.a. Macacauba a.k.a. Granadillo

To quote that article: “[Hormigo] is uber-colorful, with many pieces having rich reds and oranges mixed in with darker brown and black veins of exquisiteness. Some woods are loved for their color, others are loved for their streaks and stripes. [Hormigo] has both.”

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…And a custom humidor made from Katalox by Arlin Liss

And: “Like Ebony, but not it’s prices? Then you’ll love Katalox. Some pieces can be just about a dark as true ebony, with just a hint of purple. Other pieces can be a more reddish brown with black streaks. So much depth in the Swartzia genus, there’s something for everyone here!” 

Back in stock: Ipe (also don’t forget Purpleheart)

We have not stocked Ipe decking for some time, but with the improving  ZAR/USD rate over summer (subsequently somewhat scuppered by our prez) we decided to bring in a container. Also known as ‘Brazilian Walnut’, this wood is about as hard and dense as they come, with extreme durability to match. 

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Ipe: hardwood decking doesn’t come any better

Given the level of interest we have had, it is likely that we now continue to hold it as a standard stock item. If you are in the market for the absolute Rolls Royce of decking timbers, then please get in contact for a very competitive quote.

Do also remember to consider Purpleheart as an alternative decking choice. We have found it to perform nearly as well as Ipe, at a price that is similar to the three decking staples of Balau, Garapa & Massaranduba. It is available in 90mm and 145mm wide decking and we have structural sizes too. 

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A Purpleheart pergola and deck recently installed at a customer site

Coming soon: Structural Garapa

While on the subject of durable timbers for outdoor applications, we are delighted to announce that we will imminently be stocking Garapa in structural sizes (we have offered it in decking for many years). Garapa decking is increasingly popular versus the perennial favourite Balau, so we felt the time was right to offer it in structural sizes for matching pergolas and decking sub-structures.

As with Balau, these larger dimensions will be air-dried – and you should expect some surface checking over time as the timber weathers – but you can be confident that it will remain bullet-proof against the ravages of the Western Cape weather for many many years.

Focus on: Brown Maple for flooring and cabinetry

A few newsletters back we mentioned a few lesser-known variants of Maple, one of which is definitely worth recapping, as this is truly a hidden gem of an option for flooring and general cabinetry….

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Brown Maple: a great alternative ‘rustic look’ floor  

Brown Maple comes from the same logs as regular Hard Maple, but includes the heart wood, which introduces brown and tan colour streaks and a more rustic appearance, which can be extremely attractive. Although a little softer than Hard Maple it is still relatively hard and is available in wide and long boards. As such, we believe it offers an excellent alternative to the current ubiquity of White Oak – and at a very competitive price.

Key market developments: CITES additions & Zambian duties

There have been a couple of notable recent developments impacting the timber trade that, as a fellow wood-lover, you should be aware of:

Firstly as part of the last CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) conference held in Durban late last year, a number of timber species have been added to the CITES appendices, including the entire Dalbergia genus of Rosewoods, Bubinga and a small number of other species (Note: this list does not actually include the species commonly known as African Rosewood in South Africa, which is in the genus Guibourtia).

As of January 2017 these timbers require a valid CITES permit to import, in addition to the usual shipment documentation. We welcome this development as an additional protection against unsustainable illegal logging, which has been blighting Africa for a number of years. The main target of this action has been to reduce the indiscriminate logging that is feeding the explosion in demand for “Hongmu” furniture in China – an issue we have raised before. More details can be found in this article.

Rare Woods has been trading with valid CITES permits for many years and we are highly supportive of tighter regulation to ensure 100% legal and sustainable use of our wonderful forest resources.

The second important market development to point out is that the Zambian Government implemented punitive duties on timber exports in January 2017. The effect of this has been a 50%+ increase in the cost of importing certain key species.

While the timber industry is up in arms and is negotiating hard to have these duties reduced, the immediate effect has been a significant reduction in availability of Kiaat, African Rosewood and Zambezi Teak.

Fortunately we had built up stocks in each of these timbers and can still supply in most sizes, but please be aware of the potential challenge and act early to secure supply for any upcoming projects you have.

And finally….. a few small items that are also worth mentioning:

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Lovely wide Cottonwood counters being sorted in our yard in Philippi

  • Cottonwood counters: We have received a load of live-edge Cottonwood counters in 50 and 60mm thicknesses. Available at a similar price to SA Pine, this is a great way to make up a rustic table top on a budget
  • Afrormosia inbound: With Afrormosia having been very scarce over the last few months, we are delighted to inform you that we have a number of shipments confirmed and due to start arriving from May
  • Winter specials: Finally, we continue our efforts to clear out a long list of overstocks and shop-soiled material. From Oak, to Iroko, to Meranti, to Beech, Cherry, Maple, Mahogany, Oregon etc etc etc, we are bound to have the right bargain for you – please ask a salesperson to give you more details next time you contact us.

For those of you taking a(nother) long weekend, we hope it is thoroughly enjoyable. Feel free to stop by on Friday (we will be open) to buy some timber for a long weekend project!

Other than that I wish you all a very productive Autumn & Winter and hope to speak to you soon. 



Seamus Harcourt-Wood
Rare Woods SA

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    Volume Primer

    Our bulk packs are sold in units of volume. (1 pack = 0.1m3).
    Depending on thickness and length you select, you will get a different effective total width. Depending on the widths we select, you will also get a different number of pcs.

    For example, 0.1m3 of 2.45m lengths will get you the following +- TOTAL WIDTH and +- PCS (assuming an average piece width of 140mm) for each thickness:


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