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 consitions of growth — is decorated by dark brown striping of varying degrees (ranging to almost black), hince its name. The striping is typically long and fairly uniform when the wood is quartersawn, but wavy and irradic 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 tearout. The wood glues well and usually possesses a pleasant, moderate to high luster, which can make for impressive finishing.
While its demand is based almost exclusively on its aesthetic appeal, Zebrawood is a strong, stiff lumber, once dry.
Sustainability: This species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: High-end furniture, veneer, musical instruments (in particular, guitars), skis, handles, and turned objects.
Comments: While flatsawing the 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.