Ash (Fraxinus americana)
Source Region: Eastern USA and Canada.
Color: Light cream to light brown.
The Tree: Reaches heights of 70-80 feet with a trunk diameter of 24-36″. Boles are often straight and clear of branches for 30-50 feet.
Ash is quite similar to Red Oak in appearance and many working properties. It is straight-grained with a moderately coarse texture.
Blackwood, African (Dalbergia melanoxylon)
Source Region: Africa; Sudan. Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria and Senegal.
Color: Heartwood is dark purple-brown with dark black streaks and the sapwood is creamy white.
The Tree: The small tree is reported to often develop more than a single stem. It usually grows to a height of 15 to 20 feet, but may occasionally reach 50 feet (15 m). The bole is often short, fluted, and rarely cylindrical, with diameters that are seldom more than 12 inches.
Blackwood is a very hard, dense wood, with a tight grain.
Bloodwood (Brosimum paraense)
Source Region: Venezuela, Peru, Panama, Brazil
Color: Rich strawberry red sometimes with golden yellow stripes.
The grain is close, and straight to interlocked and varies from medium to coarse in texture.
Bocote (Cordia elaeagnoides)
Source Region: Mexico and Central America
Color: Greenish yellow to golden brown with dark stripes.
The Tree: Small to medium sized tree sometimes 100 feet tall.
This richly grained tropical hardwood is very scarce and is classified as rare or endangered throughout its natural habitat. Often highly figured with “eyes.” Its grain varies from straight to roey and its texture is fine to medium with an oily appearance. Noted to be a very heavy hard wood, it resists marring and denting and is very resistant to decay.
Box Elder (Acer negundo)
Source Region: Central and Eastern United States and Canada
Color: The sapwood is typically a pale white. The heartwood is a grayish/yellowish brown, frequently with red or pink streaks.
The Tree: Averages 35-80 ft (10-25 m) tall, and 1-2 ft (.3-.6 m) in diameter.
Box Elder is technically considered a maple tree (Acer genus); although it’s not as strong or hard as other species of maple. It frequently has red or pink streaks through the heartwood, due to a pigment found in a fungus (Fusarium negundi) that commonly afflicts the tree. Easy to work with, it has closed pores and a fine grain texture. The growth rings are usually faint and non-distinct.
Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa)
Source Region: Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua
Color: Variegated orange, yellow dark red with irregular black stripes.
The Tree: A small to medium tree. Matures to heights over 45-60 feet. Trunks are 18-24″.
Cocobolo is a hard and heavy wood. Oils in the wood produce a natural polish.
Goncalo Alves (Astronium fraxinifolium)
Source Region: Tropical Central America
Color: Light golden brown to reddish brown with blackish brown streaks.
The Tree: Grows to a height of 100 feet with a long straight trunk about 36″ in diameter.
Goncalo is a very heavy hard, dense wood that is very durable.
Kingwood (Dalbergia cearensis)
Source Region: Brazil
Color: Light to dark violet brown with lighter and darker stripes of purple.
The Tree: A low, slender tree.
Although very strong and tough in all wood strength categories, Kingwood is mostly used for decorative purposes since its use is restricted by the small sizes available.
Leopardwood (Roupala brasiliensis)
Source Region: South America, Chile, Brazil
Color: Pale pinkish brown to medium brown.
The Tree: Grows up to 150 feet with a trunk diameter of up to 4′.
Leopardwood has a flaky, speckled figure with dark flecks, varying from a small lacelike pattern to a larger “splashy” figure.
Maple (Acer saccharum)
Source Region: Northeastern USA & Canada.
Color: Cream white to reddish brown.
The Tree: Matures at heights of 90-120 feet with a trunk 24-36″. Produces sweet sap used to make maple syrup.
Also called Hard Rock Maple or Sugar Maple, it is known for its durability and strength.
Padauk (Pterocarpus soyauxii)
Source Region: West Africa – Cameroon. Gabon, Nigeria, Gold Coast.
Color: Bright orange red, often with dark stripes.
The Tree: A straight, well-shaped tree that reaches 100 feet high and up to 48″ in diameter.
It often grows in small groups and is common in dense equatorial rain forests. When freshly cut the wood is bright orange red, becomes reddish brown.
Palm, Black (Borassus flabellifer)
Source Region: Southeast Asia and Australia
Color: Black on a light or deep tan background
The Tree: Can reach heights of 100 feet or more, and sometimes live for more than 100 years.
Black Palm is a hard, dense, and stringy wood from the tough outer rings of the tree. The long trunks contain an abundance of wood, although due to their relative thinness, the pieces that finally emerge are rarely over 6 inches wide.
Purpleheart (Peltogyne paniculata)
Source Region: Mexico to Tropical South America
Color: Dull gray brown when freshly cut but soon oxidizing to a violet purple.
The Tree: A tall tree 120 feet or more, producing a long, straight trunk about 36 inches in diameter.
This wood has exceptional bending strength (far stronger than Maple, Oak or Teak) with a high tolerance to shock loading.
Rosewood, Brazilian (Dalbergia nigra)
Source Region: Brazil
Color: The heartwood varies in color from shades of brown to red or chocolate to violet, and is irregularly streaked with black.
The Tree: The often-buttressed trees are reported to develop boles that are usually short and irregular in shape. They may reach heights of 125 feet, with trunk diameters that range from 36 to 48 inches.
The wood has a very fragrant aroma similar to that of roses when cut. Finishes well and works easily. Brazilian rosewood is reported to be scarce in the more accessible areas because of over-harvesting.
Tulipwood (Dalbergia variabilis)
Source Region: Tropical South America, especially Northeast Brazil
Color: Irregular streaks of yellow, rose and red or violet on a cream to straw colored background.
The Tree: Small with an irregular trunk. Heartwood logs are 2-8″ in diameter.
Tulipwood is hard and dense with elegant pink-yellow heartwood with a pronounced stripe of pink to deep red.
Walnut, Black (Juglans nigra)
Source Region: Mid and Eastern United States and Canada
Color: Light to dark brown or chocolate brown.
The Tree: A moderate sized tree reaching about 100 feet and producing a trunk up to 60″ in diameter.
Black walnut has a fine but open grain with a moderately coarse texture. Black walnut is highly valued for its beauty, strength, durability, and ease of working. Unfortunately, the value placed on the trees has resulted in their near extermination.
Wenge (Millettia laurentii)
Source Region: Tropical West Africa, Zaire, Cameroon, Gabon, Tanzania.
Color: Dark brown to black with fine black veining.
The Tree: Ranges from 60-90 feet in height with trunk diameters of about 36″.
The grain of Wenge is expressive with a straight to roey grain. The color is a rich dark brown to black with fine, closely spaced dark veins and white lines.
Zebrawood (Microberlinia brazzavillensis)
Source Region: West Africa, especially Cameroon and Gabon
Color: Golden brown with pronounced dark brown streaks.
The Tree: A tall tree to 150 feet; bole straight and cylindrical but relatively short, up to 50 feet; trunk diameters 48-60″ over low buttresses. The bark is up to 12″ thick.
Although abundant, it is an expensive wood because of its difficulty to harvest and preparation necessary to bring it to market. The heartwood is a light golden-yellow with narrow veining streaks of dark brown to black rendering its zebra stripe appearance.
A burl is a wart-like, deformed growth on the trunk, root, or branches of a tree. Burls are usually caused by an injury to, or an infection in, the tree just under the bark; and sometimes are the result of an unformed bud which for some reason did not grow properly. Continued growth follows the contour of the original deformity, producing all manner of twists, swirls and knots in the wood fiber.
Laminates are made from thin wooden veneers that are dyed in various colors then glued together (usually under pressure) to form specific patterns.
Patchwork pieces are made from all those bits and parts of wood and acrylic that accumulate. These bits are too small to use by themselves, but when assembled together, they make an attractive and truly one-of-a-kind item.