Wood Species

Showing 25–36 of 137 results

  • Siamese Rosewood, a.k.a. Vietnamese Rosewood, is one of the most dense, dimensionally stable rosewoods. The wood is derived from large evergreen trees which grow in open, semi-deciduous forests. It’s primary heartwood colors are typically confined to varying brown hues, although secondary colors of red, orange and yellows are commonly present. (Sap is a pale yellow, and easily distinguished.) Its pores are very small by rosewood standards; it sands smooth and finishes beautifully, with a wonderful natural luster. It is typically straight grained, although grains are occasionally interlocked. It is considered to be one of the most dense, stable and durable of all rosewoods.

    Because of these properties, Siamese Rosewood has remained extremely popular with Chinese furniture builders — and which has also made it, for many years, a popular target for poachers. This has led to its current ‘near extinction’ status.

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    Sustainability: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II, and is categorized as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban.

    Common Uses: Veneer; fine furniture; carvings; musical instruments; cabinetry and other interior applications; turning; small specialty items.

    Comments: Wikipedia had this to say with regard to Dalbergia Cochichinensis:

    “Siamese rosewood is denser than water, fine grained, and high in oils and resins. These properties make the wood dimensionally stable, hard wearing, rot and insect resistant, and when new, highly fragrant. The density and toughness of the wood also allows furniture to be built without the use of glue and nails, but rather constructed from jointery and doweling alone.”

    Unfortunately, it has been the demise of this species at the hands of regional neighbors, China, which has placed it on the verge of extinction and is its tragic modern legacy. The incredible demand for it in this new millennium was accelerated prior to the 2008 Olympic games, in Beijing, and continued with the new construction boom the country has experienced.

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  • There are actually two different types of wood which are known as Pau Ferro: the most common one is also known as Bolivian Rosewood, and Morado; the other one is significantly more dense (generally around 50% more), and is known also as Brazilian Ironwood and Brazilwood. The vast majority of what os made available in the US is former of the two — the less dense variety. The wood earned its “… Rosewood” nicknames (by which it is commonly known) because its colors and density are similar, which its medium brown base typically augmented by black streaks or grain lines, and sometimes even purple, tan and golden secondary hues, and sometimes a purplish tint, overall. Although it can have varying grains, straight-grained pieces are generally very easy to work, and the wood turns smoothly and finishes well. It is considered quite durable, although it can be subject to insect attack.

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    Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

    Common Uses: Veneer, musical instruments (in particular, guitars — both electric and acoustic), furniture, cabinetry, flooring, interior trim, turnings, and other small specialty wood objects.

    Comments: Pau Ferro is a popular Brazilian Rosewood substitute and is thought to be about as similar in properties to rosewood as any non-Dalbergia-genus species possibly could be. Its grains are tighter than a typical rosewood specimen, and it is thought to have a more distinctly percussive taptone than that of Brazilian. It’s tonal response is said to have tight lows, present mids and a clear, singing high end response.

    Despite the comparisons, it should be noted that the (much more prevalent) Machaerium-genus species of Pau Ferro has less density, hardness and weight than an average rosewood.

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  • Nicaraguan Rosewood — also known as Yucatan Rosewood, or Panama Rosewood — is the least dense, hard and heavy of all the Dalbergia species. Its heartwood can vary from a pale yellow-brown, to tan, to varying shades of brown (both light and dark); sapwood is pale yellow and clearly demarcated. Grains are generally straight, but can be wavy or interlocked; its texture ranges from fine to medium, with large, open pores. Its moderate luster is in keeping with its reputation of being aesthetically bland, although darker accents and occasional figuring are sometimes present.

    Despite being significantly less stout than all of its true rosewood cousins, the wood is surprisingly durable. It is less oily, also, which adds up to some generally very cooperative working, turning, gluing and finishing properties.

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    Sustainability: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II, but is not listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban.

    Common Uses: Turned objects, musical instruments, furniture, and small specialty wood objects.

    Comments: The density, hardness and weight of this species can vary greatly, depending on the specific region and conditions of its growth.

    There has been some confusion and controversy surrounding its scientific name, as it is commonly referred to as “Dalbergia Yucatensis.”

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  • Madagascar Rosewood is a very popular wood with both acoustic and electric guitar luthiers (especially the former), as well as furniture craftsmen, despite being a wood that has been difficult to acquire in the US for the bulk of this new millennium. Depending on the specific species, heartwood colors can range anywhere from a pale yellowish-brown to orangish-red to deep burgundy to a chocolate brown, typically highlighted by bold black ink lines and secondary hues. Its straight grains and medium texture generally make for excellent working properties, despite its considerable hardness and density; its cuts, turns and finishes beautifully, with a nice natural luster.

    The wood typically has a high natural oil content, which can make gluing challenging.

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    Sustainability: Listed in CITES Appendix II, and reported as “Vulnerable” to “Near Threatened” (depending on specific species) by the IUCN; part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban.

    Common Uses: Veneer, musical instruments, boats and shipbuilding, furniture, cabinetry, trim work, flooring, inlays, carving, turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.

    Comments: There are four distinctly different Dalbergia species which are all commonly called “Madagascar Rosewood.” Back in the 1990’s, wood poaching on the African island of Madagascar reached epidemic proportions. Logging and exportation of the wood was banned, in response, in 2000, but was lifted in 2012, in the aftermath of major political upheaval in 2009. Madagascar Rosewood’s exportation was once again banned in 2015, but between an unwaivering demand for the lumber and continuing poverty throughout the region, the illegal logging trade has continued (despite bans).

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  • East Indian Rosewood can vary greatly in color, although its base color is most always brown; the shades can range from golden brown, to purplish or dark reddish brown. Secondary colors are often present. The wood’s colors will darken with continued UV exposure. EI Rw is generally less dense than most other rosewoods. Its grains are typically interlocked (although they can be irregular or straight), which can make it difficult to work. Care must be taken when finishing the wood, as it is not uncommon for the wood’s natural resins to impose if it is not first sealed. It has a medium texture.

    Since the exportation ban on Brazilian Rosewood, more than twenty years ago, it has become a popular substitute with corporate guitar manufacturers (electric and acoustic, alike) — due in large part to its historically steady supply and relatively low cost (compared with other Dalbergia’s). By comparison to Braz Rw, its pores are smaller; but it is also a very durable wood, that’s not overly susceptible to bug damage / infestation and is considered stable after drying.

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    Sustainability: Listed in CITES Appendix II — part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban — and is classified as “Vulenerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

    Common Uses: Musical instruments (in particular, acoustic & electric guitars), furniture, cabinetry, veneer, structural paneling, turnings and specialty wood objects.

    Comments: Most relevant, from our perspective, is the fact the many people refer to this wood as “Indian Rosewood,” which is inaccurate; Sissoo (Dalbergia Sissoo) is also known through its natural region as “Indian Rosewood.”

    Also worth mentioning is Sonokeling: a true Dalbergia indigenous to Indonesia — where it is also known as “Jacaranda.” Many sources consider this wood and East Indian Rosewood to be of the same species (Dalbergia Latifolia), however tree farmers in Indonesia are not in agreement with this assessment. Our research into Indonesia and the cultivation of rosewood trees there revealed that back in the 1700’s, while the Indonesian islands were considered a colony of Holland, Dutch merchant colonists transplanted two major Dalbergia’s to Indonesia: Dalbergia Nigra (Brazilian Rosewood), from Brazil, and; Dalbergia Sissoo (Indian Rosewood), from India.

    We view Indonesian Rosewood as a completely different species of Dalbergia, and see the topic as certainly worthy of further botanical investigation.

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  • 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.

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    Sustainability: Listed in CITES Appendix II, but not on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban.

    Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, veneer, musical instruments (fingerboards for banjos, guitars, mandolins,etc., percussion bars for xylophones, marimbas, etc.), harp bodies, moldings, picture frames, turnings and small specialty objects.

    Comments: 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.)

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  • With its outstanding strength-to-weight ratio, density, stability and resonance, it is easy to see why Brazilian Rosewood became the wood synonymous with “rosewood” in the world of both acoustic and electric guitar building, in the last century. It is also renowned for its use in fine furniture, cabinetry, as veneer and paneling, and more. Its wide popularity and huge demand led to its eventual placement on CITES Appendix I, back in early 1992. Not only is it illegal to import or export the wood from one country to another, but it is also illegal export finished products containing the legendary Dalbergia.

    The wood is typically a dark chocolate brown, although it can possess varying degrees of reddish or purplish tint, as well as having a variety of secondary colors sometimes woven in to its grains. Grain patterns can run the gamut — from straight, to interlocked, wavy or irregular — with a medium texture that can be quite porous. Brazilian Rosewood is generally considered a cooperative working wood, although its density requires sharp tools and blades. It finishes well and has a nice natural luster, although — with its high natural oil content — it can be difficult to glue.

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    Sustainability: This species is listed in the CITES Appendix I, and classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; part of the Dalbergia -genus worldwide exportation ban.

    Common Uses: Veneer, fine furniture, cabinetry, flooring, musical instruments, turned objects, and other small wooden specialty items.

    Comments: Brazilian Rosewood was entrenched in guitar luthiery (both acoustic & electric) through the ’90’s, after which time its supply in the US had declined to the point of sending craftsmen in search of alternatives. It truly is the “holy grail” of guitar tonewoods; with its evenly balanced, rich tonal spectrum, it is the standard by which all others are judged.

    Since its exportation ban went into effect, supplies have been limited to the existing stockpiles already present in the US. Because of its abundant use, that supply, at the time, was quite subtantial. Now, it has dwindled down to the point of being almost impossible to obtain and being extremely pricey.

    Aside from being one of the exotic wood industry’s most covered species, it is also one of the most impersonated: with dishonest sellers infrequently popping up, offering other rosewoods with similar aesthetic qualities and calling Brazilian Rosewood.

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  • African Rosewood is a species from the same genus as Bubinga (Guibourtia), which has led to Bubinga often mistakenly being referred to as “African Rosewood.” Though obviously not a true rosewood, it does often bear aesthetic similarities. The grain is generally straight but can be interlocked; its texture is moderately fine. The heartwood color ranges from pink to reddish-brown, with purple or red streaks / lines / highlights.

    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.

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    Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

    Common Uses: Furniture, flooring, decking, architectural paneling & woodwork, veneer, interior trim, musical instruments, boatbuilding, turnings, small decorative and specialty items.

    Comments: This wood has been used for a huge variety of roles in its native Africa. The tree, itself, and its budding flowers have been used for everything from cooking oils, to nutrional / healing drinks and even for producing a red dye which African craftsmen use for staining furniture.

    The wood is considered very durable, thus seeing it used in a host of exterior as well as interior applications. It is relatively easy to work, although it can be very difficult to dry.

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  • While renowned for its often deep, rich purple hues, Purpleheart is actually one of the toughest woods in the world. It is considered one of the stiffest, hardest woods — boasting an impressive strength-to-weight ratio. It is also extremely water resistant, which, combined with its toughness, has seen it frequently used in outdoor decking and even as truckbed flooring. The wood is typically straight or wavy grained (though sometimes irregular). Its texture ranges from fine to medium, and it has a nice natural luster that emerges when fine sanded. The wood works and turns well, although sharp tools and blades are a necessity. It glues and finishes well, also.

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    Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

    Common Uses: Veneer, flooring, parquee flooring, decking, paneling, musical instruments, furniture, cabinetry, inlay, boatbuilding, carvings, turnings, decorative items and small specialty objects.

    Comments: When freshly cut, Purpleheart is actually more a dull brown with feint purple overtones. Within minutes, these colors quickly change into a variety of different purple hues (depending upon species, growth environment, etc.), but generally mutate back towards a darker brown with purple tint with continued exposure to UV rays. This process can be slowed and minimized by using a finishing product with UV-inhibitor additives.

    While the wood is generally very cooperative when worked, given its hard, dense nature, dull tools and blades can be an issue. When resawing a board with a dull saw blade, it hardness can cause the wood and blade to overheat, producing a black, tar-like resin which requires some very patient sanding to completely remove.

    Despite its large natural range and 23 different species, recent surges in popularity in this new millennium have led to some isolated cases of “near extinction” levels of tree population reduction in several Central American regions where it grows.

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  • The Yellow Poplar (Liriodendron Tulipifera) tree is the tallest of all Eastern US hardwoods; the wood it yields is some of the least dense. Yellow Poplar is characterized by a light muted cream color, often with mineral-stained streaks typically of gray and/or green. (Sapwood is ivory- to white-colored, easily distinguished from the heartwood.) Although, traditionally, Poplar has been long considered a “utility” type of lumber, the wood’s straight, uniform grains and medium texture affords it very cooperative working properties, and it glues and finishes well when finely sanded.

    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.

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    Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

    Common Uses: Veneer, paneling, musical instruments (specifically, electric guitar bodies), plywood, pulp (for paper production), crates, pallets, and other utility applications.

    Comments: The aesthetically desirable of Yellow Poplar boards is often referred to as “Rainbow Poplar;” so named for its muted mineral-stained color streaks, which truly span the rainbow. (… with red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, purple and black hues all possibly present and not uncommon.)

    It is interesting to note that the tree is not actually a true Poplar (of the Populus genus), is a member of the Liriodendron genus. Liriodendron is Latin for ?lily tree.? After the tree buds, its flowers have a simlar hourglass shape to that of tulips — earning it the other common name by which its known of “Tulip Poplar.”

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  • 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.

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    Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

    Common Uses: Instruments, decorative items, veneer, inlay / decorative, knife & gun handles, billiard cues, chessmen, and other turned objects.

    Comments: 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.

    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.

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  • SA Pine is actually not indigenous to South Africa, but was introduced many years ago.  It is grown in plantations all over and is one of our most cost effective timbers available.  It has low bending and stiffness properties, while crushing strength and resistance to shock loads is low. There is a low blunting effect on cutting edges. The timber takes nails well and gluing is satisfactory. The surfaces, when polished, will provide a good finish.

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    Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

    Common uses: Construction, joinery, furniture and cabinetmaking and for decorative veneers.

    Comments: Most widely sold timber in South Africa.

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