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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Historically, an important domestic hardwood throughout Europe, Swiss Pear is known for its fine, straight grains and smooth, consistent texture, as well as its pink coloration (which naturally ranges from pale to light to medium). Once cut, the wood’s hues intensify as it oxidizes. Swiss Pear is commonly steamed, to provide a more smooth, consistent pink color, and to relieve stress within the wood, so it dries flat.

    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.

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

    Common Uses: Veneer, architectural millwork, marquetry, furniture, cabinetry, inlay, carving, musical instruments (flutes, violins), and turned objects.

    Comments: The wood is considered a premium hardwood in Europe, and one of economic importance. Its steady demand there equates to very little of it making it to the US. (Species of the Pyrus Communis tree have been transplanted all over the United States, primarily for its fruit production — the “Bartlett Pear.”) European furniture and cabinet makers utilize it in much the same way as American craftsman do Black Cherry.

    Pear is decidedly non-durable; all of its applications are thus confined to interior. The wood has a tendency to dull cutters, so sharp blades are recommended for resawing.

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  • Hard Pear is a dense hard timber that grows in the Knysna area.  It is available in limited quantities and dimensions, but makes highly desirable furniture. Some planks display wonderful ripple patterning. Takes a very smooth finish.

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

    Common uses: Furniture, cabinetry, tool handles.

    Comments: In the past it was used for bridge building, wagon making and all sorts of other uses that required a tough, hard wood.

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  • Pau Rosa is a very beautiful tropical wood. Depending on the specific region of the trees’ growth, colors can vary from a medium chocolate brown to an almost Padauk-like red or orange, or even a mixture of such colors which can also include yellows and purples (also like Padauk). It is a very dense wood, with grains which are typically wavy or interlocked, and moderately course. Despite its density, it is considered relatively easy to work and turns, glues and finishes well.

    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.

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    Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices; categorized on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as a species of “least concern.”

    Common Uses: Carpentry, furniture, veneer, fuelwood, interior & exterior utility, carvings, turnings and various small specialty items.

    Comments: Pau Rosa is not commonly found outside of Africa. Due to the combination of its cracking tendencies (when drying) and the relative short, squatty profile of most trees, long boards are even more uncommon. The wood has a nice natural luster. Its density and somewhat coarse texture requires sharp blades, but — despite its coarseness and typically interlocked grains — it actually planes well.

    Due to its very limited supply, Pau Rosa is not too well-known in the US. It has excellent tonal properties, despite being grossly overlooked and under-appreciated.

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  • Pau Marfim is a dense, fine textured, mostly straight grained hardwood which is generally a creamy white colorm but it can vary from a lemon color to a pale yellowish-brown, also. There is very little contrast between its sapwood and heartwood, although the heartwood can be decorated with darker streaks, occasionally. It is an extremely tough, durable wood, which has seen it utilized as a popular substitute for maple and birch and makes it an ideal choice for anything from flloring to tool handles.

    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.

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

    Common Uses: Tool handles, oars, flooring, textile rollers, drawing instruments, canoes, cabinets, furniture, paneling, decorative plywood, veneer, turnings and carvings.

    Comments: For flooring, Pau Marfim is considered superior to either Maple or Birch (commonly used for light-colored wood flooring applications) because of its renowned wear resistance. Despite being similar in appearance, Pau Marfim is harder to work and considered to be stronger than necessary by many cabinet makers familiar with the wood.

    Its toughness has seen it used in many outdoor applications, including canoes and oars, despite it being known as having a very weak resistance to decay. Depending on specific location and conditions, the wood can vary greatly in density.

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  • Not unlike its coconut-producing cousin, Red Palm, Black Palmyra (perhaps better known as “Black Palm” in the US) is unique among exotic woods in several ways. First, it’s tree is not categorized a hardwood or softwood tree, but as a flowering plant: Monocotyledon (or “Monocot”). Secondly, the tree is comprised of two entirely different layers: at its core is a soft, spoungy cellulose mass; this soft core is surrounded by a protective body, comprised of dense, overlapping layers of interwoven fibrovascular strands. It is this hard, dense protective layer that is considered its wood.

    While it is considered to be typically straight grained, because of its toughness the wood can be very diificult to work; splintering and tearouts are not uncommon. It is a dimensionally stable wood, but it requires sharp blades and precise-angled cuts to get acceptable results when resawing this wood.

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

    Common Uses: Flooring, boatbuilding, walking sticks, handles, construction, exterior utility wood, furniture, and turned objects.

    Comments: Monocotyledon is a group which contains over 60,000 different species, interestingly, among them are grains (rice; wheat; corn; etc.), various forage grasses, bananas, sugar cane, asparagus, onions, garlic and other spices (such as ginger and tumeric). Known for its great toughness, strength and durability, its wood has been used for centuries in a variety of functions in the third-world settings to which it is indigenous.

    Black Palm’s weight and density can vary greatly, depending on growing conditions and specific location. It’s a tough wood, from a robust tree — a tree which historically has survived, and thrived, under some difficult growing conditions. Palms are known for their signature trunks, with gradually shrink in diameter, from the ground to its top.

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  • Obeche comes from Tropical West Africa.  Its bending, crushing, stiffness and resistance to load classifications are very low. However, it is very easy to work with hand or machine tools, with only a slight blunting effect on edges. An excellent finish requires only a light filling.

    Uses

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

    Common uses: plywood, carving, furniture.

    Comments: Used extensively where durability and strength are unimportant, such as cabinet framing, drawer sides and model making. Also used for decorative and backing veneers.

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  • Red Oak has a light brown heartwood color, with a reddish tint. Due to its basically light coloration, it is not always that easy to distinguish its sap from its heart. Like its many cousins, quartersawn examples display varying amounts of its renowned “ray fleck” patterns. Grains are typically straight, but with a coarse texture and large, open pores. The wood works, finishes and glues well. Its impressive strength, hardness and moderate price have made it a popular choice with furniture builders and cabinet makers.

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

    Common Uses: Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, veneer, utility, handles and interior utility applications.

    Comments: The Northern Red Oak trees’ heights and trunk diameters can vary greatly, with forest-grown trees known to reach heights well in excess of 100 feet, and trunk over 6 ft in diameter. Conversely, open-grown trees spread out considerably wider — making them a natural choice for many street and park shades trees.

    The wood is an historically-important wood in the US, utilized in a variety of interior applications. The wood has become synonymous with house interiors, and vinyls / imitation wood substitutes are often produced to appear as Red Oak.

    High shrinkage rates equate with poor dimensional stability, thus quartersawing is recommended.

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