By Joshua Farnsworth
Earlier this year my friend gave me a truck load of incredible 8/4 exotic lumber. Great friend, right? He told me that the boards were given to him by a fellow member of the military at his previous station. His military friend had apparently brought it with him when he moved back from living in Africa. So these boards have been sitting in my workshop for months, just tempting me to find out what they are. But I wanted to wait until I could share the moment with all of you! You can watch the video above to see me handplaning a section of one of the boards.
In the video you’ll see that my suspicions were confirmed: I had no idea what this wood was! I’m definitely not an expert on exotic lumber, as I use mostly lumber cut here in Virginia. So I went to my go-to source, The Wood Database, which is the most well-known source for wood identification on the internet. It was created by Eric Meier, author of the very detailed book: “WOOD! Identifying and Using Hundreds of Woods Worldwide“. You can (find it here).
He’s also the creator of the cool “Periodic Table of Wood” poster that a lot of you have probably seen (see it here).
I was able to find several possible species on The Wood Database, but wanted some more help because of the difficulty of identifying this wood. Eric had previously agreed to help me identify the lumber, so when I couldn’t figure out the species, I made up sample boards from three of the boards in the stack and sent the photos to Eric. As of today, he is still working with a British friend who works with a lot of African lumber species. So I don’t currently know the species. But if you are able to help identify the lumber, you’ll get kudos!
Below I’ve added detailed photos of all three sample boards. Click on them for larger views. I handplaned the board faces (except for sample C…I’ll tell you why below), and finely sanded the end grain. I then added walnut oil to the board faces and end grain to make the identification easier. I tried to match my camera’s white balance to make the images as close to the actual color as possible. Here are some of the characteristics that I shared with Eric:
- The lumber is very heavy (heavier than oak)
- The lumber is fairly difficlut to plaine due to it’s hardness, but the flat-sawn boards don’t tear out much
- Small cutoffs from the boards didn’t sink in water
- I couldn’t sense any strong odor when handsawing, handplaning, or sanding. Just a mild smell.
- The end grain appears to be very dense
Here are some closeup images of the different sample boards: