Jatobá or Guapinol (Hymenaea courbaril), is a tree common to the Caribbean, Central, and South America. It is a hardwood that is used for furniture, flooring and decorative purposes.
Although Jatoba is sometimes referred to as Brazilian Cherry or South American Cherry, it is not a cherry tree and it is in no way, botanically or otherwise related to the Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), a very common American hardwood. Depending on the locale, Jatoba is also known as Brazilian Copal, South American Locust, the West Indian Locust Tree, or Stinking Toe, Old Man's Toe or Stinktoe (because of the unpleasant odor of the edible pulp inside its seed pods) and various other names.
Jatoba produces an orange, resinous, sticky gum that converts to amber through a chemical process that requires millions of years. Amber of million year old Hymenaea trees have provided scientists with many clues to its prehistoric presence on Earth as well as to the often extinct insects and plants encased in it. (As shown in the Jurassic Park movies.)
Cocobolo is a tropical hardwood from Central America. Only the heartwood is used: this is typically orange or reddish-brown in color, often with a figuring of darker irregular traces weaving through the wood. The sapwood (not often used) is a creamy yellow, with a sharp boundary with the heartwood. The heartwood is known to change color after being cut, lending to its appeal.
Cocobolo is oily in look and feel. This oil lends a strong, unmistakable floral odor even to well seasoned wood and occasionally stains the hands with prolonged exposure. Standing up well to repeated handling and exposure to water, a common use is in gun grips and knife handles. It is very hard, fine textured and dense, but is easily machined, although due to the abundance of natural oils, the wood tends to clog abrasives and fine-toothed saw blades, like other very hard, very dense tropical woods. Due to its density and hardness, even a large block of the cut wood will produce a clear musical tone if struck. Cocobolo can be polished to a lustrous, glassy finish. The high natural oil content of the wood makes it difficult to achieve a strong glue joint, and can inhibit the curing of some varnishes, particularly oil based finishes.
Cocobolo is yielded by two to four closely related species of the genus Dalbergia, of which the best known is Dalbergia retusa, a fair-sized tree, reported to reach 20–25 m in height: this is probably the species contributing most of the wood in the trade. Because of the wood's beauty and high value, the trees yielding this wood have been heavily exploited: they are rare outside of national parks, reserves and plantations. Only relatively small amounts of this prized wood reach the world market and it is expensive.
Besides its use in gun grips and knife handles, Cocobolo is favored for fine inlay work for custom high-end cue sticks, brush backs, and musical instruments, especially guitars, drums and basses. Alembic Inc considers cocobolo to be its house wood, and many famous players such as Stanley Clarke use such basses. Jerry Garcia's Tiger (guitar) has a cocobolo top and back. Some woodwind instruments, such as clarinets, oboes, and bagpipes, have been successfully made using cocobolo instead of the normal grenadilla (African blackwood). More uses include decorative and figured veneers, bowls, jewelry boxes, luxury pens and other expensive specialty items. Some cocobolo has a specific gravity of over 1.0, and will sink in water.
Wenge (pronounced /'w??ge?/ WENG-gay) is a tropical timber, very dark in color with a distinctive figure and a strong partridge pattern. The wood is heavy and hard, suitable for flooring and staircases. It also gives its name to the colour wenge.
Several musical instrument makers employ wenge in their products. Steve Wishnevsky often uses wenge for his basses' bodies. Alembic guitars has used this wood on numerous occasions for custom instruments. Ibanez uses it for the five-piece necks of some of their electric basses. Warwick electric basses use it for fingerboards.
The wood is popular in segmented woodturning because of its dimensional stability and color contrast when mixed with lighter woods such as maple. This makes it especially sought after in the manufacture of high-end wood canes.
The wood is sometimes used in the making of archery bows, particularly as a laminate in the production of flatbows. It can also be used in the making of rails or pin blocks on hammered dulcimers.
Wenge is the product of the Millettia laurentii tree. Native to the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, this species is listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List: Category EN A1cd, principally due to destruction of its habitat and over-exploitation for timber. Other names sometimes used for wenge include African Rosewood, Congolese Rosewood, Faux Ebony, Dikela, Mibotu, Bokonge and Awong.
Pterocarpus is a pantropical genus of trees in the family Fabaceae, most of which yield valuable timber traded as padauk (or padouk); other common names are mukwa or narra. The scientific name is Latinized Ancient Greek and means "wing fruit", referring to the unusual shape of the seed pods in this genus.
Padauk wood is obtained from several species of Pterocarpus. All padauks are of African or Asian origin. Padauks are valued for their toughness, stability in use, and decorativeness, most having a reddish wood. Most Pterocarpus woods contain either water- or alcohol-soluble substances and can be used as dyes.
The padauk found most often in the timber trade is African Padauk from Pterocarpus soyauxii which, when freshly cut, is a very bright red but when exposed to sunlight fades over time to a warm brown. Its colour makes it a favourite among woodworkers. Burmese Padauk is Pterocarpus macrocarpus while Andaman Padauk is Pterocarpus dalbergioides. Padauks can be confused with rosewoods to which they are somewhat related, but as a general rule padauks are coarser and less decorative in figure.
Some padauks, e.g. P. soyauxii, are used as herbal medicines, for example to treat skin parasites and fungal infections.
Rosewood refers to any of a number of richly hued timbers, often brownish with darker veining, but found in many different hues. All rosewoods are strong and heavy, taking an excellent polish, being suitable for guitars, marimbas, turnery (billiard cues, the black pieces in chess sets, etc), handles, furniture, luxury flooring, etc.