What are the Different Types of Black Wood?

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Black wood is highly sought-after in furniture building and other design applications for its unique and rich appearance. But did you know there are several black wood types, each with different characteristics? 

In this article, I will share the most popular types to help you choose the right one for your next project.

Are Blackwood and Ebony The Only Kinds of Black Wood?

You might be surprised to learn that there are several kinds of black wood. While blackwood and ebony are the most well-known, some species, like rosewood, walnut wood, and mahogany, can also have a blackened finish.

Blackwood is a name given to several different species of trees, including those in the Dalbergia, Merremia, and Pterocarpus genera. The heartwood of these trees is naturally black or very dark brown.

Blackwood is often used in furniture making and other woodworking applications because it’s both strong and beautiful.

sawing blackwood

Ebony is another type that’s commonly used in furniture making and other woodworking projects for selling. There are several different species of ebony, but the most prized is African Ebony.

This type of Ebony has jet-black heartwood that’s both incredibly hard and dense. As a result, African Ebony is often used for carving and other applications where strength and durability are paramount.

Rosewood is a type of hardwood that gets its name from its reddish-brown coloration. While rosewood doesn’t naturally occur in a black hue, it can be stained or finished to achieve this look.

Rosewood is also prized for its beauty and strength, and I often see it being used in furniture making, wood turning projects, and other woodworking applications.

Meanwhile, walnut is another type of hardwood that can be stained or finished to achieve a blackened look. Walnut is typically lighter in weight than other hardwoods like oak or maple wood, making it easier to work with.

blackwood on white surface

Walnut is also known for being easy to stain and finishing evenly. As a result, walnut is a popular choice for everything from flooring to cabinets. But is walnut wood really expensive? Find out next! 

Another type of wood that’s popularly used in furniture making is mahogany. While mahogany doesn’t naturally occur in a black hue, it can be stained or finished to produce this look. Among us woodworkers, mahogany is praised for its beauty and the ease it brings to crafting. 

That said, while it’s a pleasure to work with due to its low density, it doesn’t boast the same strength as other hardwoods. So, if you’re thinking outdoor furniture or anything that demands top-tier durability, mahogany might not be your first pick.

How are African Blackwood and Ebony Wood Different?

If you’re looking for high-quality wood for your next woodworking project, you may wonder if African Blackwood and ebony wood are the same things. After all, they’re both hardwoods that are native to Africa, and they’re both very dark in color.

However, there are actually some major differences between these two kinds of wood. Here’s a look at the key distinctions between African Blackwood and ebony wood.

cabinet made of Ebony wood

One of the biggest differences between African Blackwood and ebony wood is price. African Blackwood is much more expensive than ebony wood. This is because African Blackwood is rare and harder to find.

In addition, only a small amount of African Blackwood can be harvested from each tree, which further contributes to its high price tag. On the other hand, ebony wood is more abundant and easier to find, making it more affordable. 

Like most of the expensive types of woodAfrican Blackwood and ebony also differ in color. African Blackwood ranges in color from dark brown to almost black, while ebony wood is true black. Because of this color difference, Ebony wood is often stained to resemble African Blackwood.

However, one thing I’ve observed is that the grain pattern of ebony wood is different than that of African Blackwood, so the stain doesn’t always take evenly.

So, if you’re aiming for that seamless, consistent look that African Blackwood naturally has, stained ebony might fall a tad short. It’s one of those nuances you learn to spot with experience.

African blackwood

African Blackwood and ebony wood also have different uses. African Blackwood is commonly used in fine furniture and musical instruments due to its high price tag and elegant appearance. 

Ebony Wood is also used in furniture and musical instruments, but it’s also popular for use in veneers and turned objects due to its low price point. 

What is the Ideal Use for Blackwood?

Blackwood is an extremely versatile product. Here are some of the most common uses for blackwood and how best to utilize it:

Furniture: Blackwood is commonly used in the construction of furniture. Due to its durability and strength, it is an ideal material for items such as tables, chairs, and dressers. Furthermore, its natural beauty means that it can add a touch of elegance to any room.

Firewood: Blackwood is also frequently used as firewood. Its high heat output makes it perfect for keeping homes warm during cold winter months. Its low smoke output is also a great option for wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. The dense and compact nature of blackwood ensures that it burns efficiently, emitting a delightful aroma while producing a warm and comforting glow. 

blackwood lumber

Construction: Blackwood has been my go-to for many construction tasks because of its impressive strength and durability. I’ve seen it used beautifully in floors, walls, and even roofs. Heck, it’s robust enough to craft beams and other foundational structures.

Crafting: Blackwood is also a popular choice for crafting projects. Its smooth surface and ability to be stained or painted make it ideal for creating various objects such as bowls, boxes, and figurines.

FAQ

Is it legal to harvest Ebony wood?

Yes, it is legal to harvest Ebony wood in the United States. Ebony is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act [1], but it can be legally harvested in the United States under a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Is Ebony wood considered rare?

Yes, Ebony wood is considered rare. Ebony is a hardwood tree that typically grows in tropical rainforests. It is considered rare because it is not a common tree species and is also difficult to harvest due to its dense growth pattern.

Additionally, the demand for ebony wood has increased in recent years as its popularity has grown, so the supply of ebony lumber has become increasingly limited.

Conclusion

If you are considering using black wood for your next project, be sure to research the different black woods available to find the one that best suits your needs.

Whatever type of black wood you choose, be sure to take care of it properly to ensure that it lasts for years to come.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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