Figured Acacia
figured acacia
This is a richly-figured wood with lots of character, which is sometimes challenging to work with. There are approximately 1300 species of Acacia found in Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. This thorny shrub or tree has medicinal properties and is used in traditional medicines and remedies. Some species are also used in foods, such as Barq’s Rootbeer and Altoids mints. The wood of the Blackwood Acacia of Australia, and the Acacia Koa of Hawaii are used for furniture and other wood crafting. There is even a species of Acacia that was described in the book of Exodus as being used to construct the Ark of the Covenant.
Ambrosia Maple
ambrosia maple
There are many species of the Maple tree found in the US. The wood is light brown to tan in color, with streaks of dark brown and areas that can have a greenish hue. It can make for a very striking grain pattern, which is often used in furniture making, and woodturnings. The name of this particular wood comes from the ambrosia beetle, whose feet carry a fungus into the wood when the wood is semi-wet. The beetle only infests trees that are dying or are already cut. The beetle infests not only a number of different maple species, but other hardwoods as well. The fungus is food for the beetle’s offspring when they hatch. It’s the fungus that causes the coloration that is seen in the wood. This occurs throughout the South and north to West Virginia and North Carolina.
This Australian wood has a reddish color with a striking grain pattern, and makes for a very stately looking pen. There are about 170 species of Banksia, ranging from shrubs to trees, and growing to 30 meters (about 100 feet). It’s large seed pod is also used by many wood turners for decorative projects.
This wood is fine-grained and pale in color, often with an attractive, satin-like sheen. Ripple figuring may occur, increasing the value of the timber for veneer and furniture making. It is also used in the making of guitars and speaker cabinets. Birch is also used in the making of paper and has medicinal and food uses as well.
Birdseye Maple
birdseye maple
The bird’s eye figure is a phenomenon that occurs within several kinds of wood, but most notably maple. It has a distinctive pattern that resembles tiny, swirling eyes, which is attributed to hormonal responses within the maple. The bird’s eye maple is usually a sugar maple found in hemlock stands. It can be found in the Great Lakes regions of Canada and the US, with some varieties found in the Rocky Mountains. The wood is used in boxes and bowls for jewelry, thin veneer, humidors, canes, furniture inlays, handles, guitars, pool cues, in the wood trim of some Rolls Royce automobiles. The bird’s eye pattern can also be found in red maple, white ash, Cuban mahogany, American beech, black walnut and yellow birch.
This species of the Corida genus is found in South America. It has a light brown color with a very pronounced grain pattern enhanced with black streaks that add to its character. You’ll find it used in guitars, furniture, and woodturning.
This species of the Guibourtia genus is native to tropical regions of Africa and South America. These evergreen trees grow 40–50 meters (131–164 feet) tall in swampy areas near rivers or at lakeshores. They have a light brown through dark brown to red appearance and are used in the making of furniture, and musical instruments such as harps, basses, guitars and drums. Lexus uses Bubinga in their cars.
Buckeye Burl
buckeye burl
The Buckeye tree grows prominently in Ohio and parts of the Ohio valley. It gets its name from the nuts, or fruit of the tree, which have a distinctive eye-like look. This “buckeye” pattern carries through to the wood and may show up in the grain. The burl part of the wood is an area of the tree that has a knot or distortion that has caused a unique, characteristic pattern. These burls add a distinctive character to any high quality writing instrument. Burls, while adding much beauty, are often very challenging with which to work.
The heartwood of this Central American hardwood is the part of the tree that is used. It is usually reddish or brown in color and is figured with darker, irregular traces weaving through it. This wood is a very hard, dense wood that can be polished to a lustrous, glassy finish. Cocobolo produces a very clear musical tone and is used in the making of guitars, basses, and other fine instruments. Care must be used when cutting Cocobolo as the wood’s oils can induce allergic reactions if inhaled or exposed to unprotected skin and eyes. So, a dust collection system and personal protective equipment must used when machining this wood.
Ebony - Macassar
macassar ebony
A very dark wood with rich, lighter grain running through it. This makes for fine pens and pendulums.
Ebony - Black or Gaboon
black or gaboon ebony
A very dark, almost black wood, with little grain pattern showing.
Ebony - Black and White
black and white ebony
A nearly white wood with black streaks and markings. This is a very striking combination, which works well with both pens and pendulums. I have been told that when used in a pendulum that the effect of the black and white is almost hypnotizing to some.
Goncalo Alves
goncalo alves
Brazil is the major exporter of this hardwood. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Zebrawood because of its often dramatic, contrasting color scheme of brown with dark streaks. It carves and turns well, finishes smoothly and takes a nice natural polish. You can find this wood used in fine furniture, cabinetry, bowls, trays, knife handles, and in figured veneers.
This is not really a species of wood, but is the result of random wood layers being injected with dyes. Then the wood is stabilized under pressure to create a material that is colorful, with a very unique grain pattern and a lot of character. Kogo comes in four colors: Blue, Red, Yellow, and Green.
All Padauk woods come from Africa or Asia. It is valued for its toughness, stability and color. It is a bright reddish to brownish wood. Though not highly figured, it does have a nice open grain pattern. I find that it needs to be sealed before applying a friction finish. Padauk is popular among woodworkers. It does have some use in herbal medicines as well.
Pau Ferro
pau ferro
This tree is mainly grown in Brazil and Bolivia. It is coffee-brown to yellow-brown and purple in color. This wood is used in the making of furniture, and is a common substitute for rosewood for fingerboards on guitars and basses. Although similar to rosewood in many ways, Pau Ferro has slightly different tonal qualities. The “Stevie Ray Vaughan” signature Fender Stratocaster comes with a Pau Ferro fingerboard. One caution in using this wood is that it is a strong sensitizer and can cause acute outbreaks of allergic and irritant dermatitis in people who have not previously been exposed to it. Care must be taken to use dust filtration units and proper personal protective equipment when working around this wood.
These trees can be found in the regions of Central and South America where they occur in tropical rainforests. They grow in size from 30–50 meters (100-164 feet). The heartwood turns from a dark brown color to a rich purple. This dense wood is prized for fine inlay work, woodturning, cabinetry and furniture. Care must be taken when working with this wood as the dust can cause nausea, so a dust collection system and personal protection equipment must be used.
This term refers to any number of richly-hued timbers, often brownish with darker figuring. They can be found in many different hues. All rosewoods are strong and heavy, and take an excellent polish. This makes them suitable for flooring, furniture, woodturning and musical instruments. Brazilian Rosewood is one of the most prized and is now on the endangered species list. Also known as Rio or Bahia rosewood, it has a strong sweet smell which explains the name “rosewood.” There are other species of rosewood, which come from India, tropical America, Southeast Asia, and Madagascar. There are also a number of woods that are called rosewoods but are from different genera all together.
Spalted Woods
spalted woods
Spalting occurs in trees due to various fungi infesting the wood. The black lines seen in spalted woods are really zone lines set up by the fungus to protect its resources. These add much character to the finished product and are sought after by wood-crafting artisans and collectors.
Another Brazilian wood, this classic, high-quality wood is very dense with a nice figuring. Other species of this wood can also be found in the US and Australia. It is used for furniture, inlays, doors and woodturnings.
Figured Walnut
figured walnut
Claro Walnut is the name generally used for this genus. The wood is highly figured and has a rich brown color with striking grain patterns, especially in the crotch areas where large limbs meet the trunk. This wood is used in the making of fine furniture, gunstocks, musical instruments, and the wood trim in Jaguar cars. It is found mostly in northern and central California, where it grows to a height of 9–18 meters (30–60 feet).
The pale golden color with dark brown to black stripes running through it, gives this wood its name. It comes from a species of Microberlinia, and is found in Central Africa (Gabon, Cameroon, and Congo). It is a heavy and hard wood with a coarse texture that is very decorative used for custom furniture, trims, inlays, marquetry, gun stocks, guitars, and the wood trim of older Mercedes-Benz cars.