13 Types of Exotic Woods That are Rare and Beautiful

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Woodworking is an ancient craft that has been used for centuries to create beautiful and sturdy pieces of furniture, art, and more. 

If you’re new to this craft, you may wonder what types of exotic woods to use for your projects. Here, our woodworkers will share the 13 most beautiful and rarest ones you can find today.

1. Padauk African Lumber

Padauk African Lumber

Padauk African Lumber is prized for its striking reddish-orange color, which darkens to rich mahogany over time. It is also unusually hard and heavy, making it ideal for projects that require durability and strength.

Padauk African Lumber is an exotic hardwood that originates from central and western Africa. The tree grows to a height of about 100 feet and has large, feather-like leaves. 

The lumber is harvested from the tree’s trunk and branches, which are cut into boards ranging from 1/4″ to 3″ thick. This wood can be difficult to work with due to its density and hardness, so you may opt for purpleheart lumber as an alternative.  

Thus, it’s important to use sharp tools when working with Padauk, as dull tools can cause the wood to tear or chip. 

Because of its unique coloration, padauk can bleed when exposed to moisture. This is why it’s important to seal the wood before beginning your project. 

2. Black Locust

Black Locust

Black Locust is a fast-growing, deciduous tree that is native to the southeastern United States. It is known for its strength, durability, and resistance to rot and decay. 

Black Locust is an extremely strong and durable wood, making it ideal for various woodworking projects. One of the reasons the Black Locust is so strong is its high density. 

It’s actually one of the densest hardwoods available, meaning your woodworking project will last for years.

It also has a wide range of colors and grain patterns, making it a versatile choice for any project. The sapwood of black locust is creamy white, but its heartwood can appear light to dark chocolate brown.

The grain is typically straight but can be wavy or irregular. You can expect minor color variations between boards when working with black locusts.

Black Locust is often used in outdoor projects such as decks, fences, and garden furniture. It’s also a popular choice for flooring and interior trim work. It can be tricky to work with due to its hardness, so it’s important to use sharp tools when machining this wood.

3. Desert Ironwood

Desert Ironwood

Desert Ironwood is a slow-growing tree that is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. The tree gets its name from its dense, heavy wood, which is extremely strong and durable.

This makes it an ideal choice for woodworking projects that require strength and stability, such as furniture and cabinetry. Desert Ironwood also features a beautiful grain pattern ranging from straight to wavy. The wood is typically dark brown or black, with hints of purple or red.

Because of its strength and stability, desert ironwood is often used in high-end furniture and cabinetry. It is also popular for turnings, carving, and other decorative applications.

Desert Ironwood is not commercially available and must be harvested from dead or dying trees in the wild. This makes it one of the most expensive woods on the market, which limits its use to only the most dedicated or wealthy woodworkers.

4. Chakte Viga

Chakte Viga

Chakte Viga is a type of hardwood that is native to Mexico and Central America. It’s characterized by its beautiful reddish-brown wood with a straight grain pattern and high natural luster.

One of the best things about Chakte Viga is its appearance. The grain pattern in this wood is simply stunning and will make your project stand out. It is also a very hard wood, giving it a durable and long-lasting look.

This wood is very strong and durable, making it perfect for furniture or any other type of long-lasting project. It is also resistant to rot and insect damage, so you can rest assured that your project will last many years.

Chakte Viga also has many uses beyond just woodworking. This exotic wood is often used for construction purposes due to its strength and durability. It is also used in boatbuilding and as a veneer for cabinets and furniture.

5. Mopane

Mopane

Mopane is a tree that is native to Africa. The wood from this tree is very dense and hard, making it ideal for various woodworking projects. Mopane is also unique because it is one of the few kinds of wood that changes color as it ages.

When first cut, mopane wood has a yellowish color. But over time, it will darken to a rich brown color. This color change can give your projects a truly unique look.

Mopane wood is also known for being very durable. This makes it ideal for projects with a lot of wear and tear, such as flooring or furniture. Mopane is also resistant to insect damage and rot, which means it will last many years with proper care. 

It is relatively easy to work with than the other types of exotic woods on this list. It can be machined, glued, and finished with relative ease.

6. Burmese Blackwood

Burmese Blackwood

When it comes to exotic woods, few are as beautiful and unique as Burmese Blackwood.

It is a highly prized hardwood that is used in high-end furniture and musical instruments. The wood is very dense and has a beautiful grain pattern. It is also one of the most popular woods for carving. 

Burmese Blackwood is native to Southeast Asia. The trees can grow to be over 100 feet tall and are often used as shade trees in coffee plantations. The wood is harvested from the trees when they are around 30 years old. 

7. Katalox

Katalox

Katalox is a deciduous tree that grows in Mexico and Central America. It’s a pea family member, which also includes minerals such as lapis lazuli and turquoise. Katalox can grow up to 50 feet tall and 2-3 feet in diameter.

The heartwood is a deep purple-brown, while the sapwood is lighter in color. Katalox is one of the densest woods in the world, with a Janka hardness rating of 4500 lbf. 

This makes it an extremely hard and durable wood that is perfect for high-traffic areas such as floors and staircases.

Katalox is an oily wood that resists most common finishes very well. However, because it is so dense, it can be difficult to work with using hand tools. We recommend using sharp blades when working with Katalox, as dull blades can cause the wood to chip or splinter.

Because of its density and hardness, Katalox is often used for heavy-duty applications such as flooring and staircases. It’s also commonly used for furniture, cabinetry, turned objects, and musical instruments.

Due to its oil content, Katalox is resistant to both water and insect damage, making it an ideal choice for outdoor furniture such as picnic tables and patio umbrellas. 

8. Ebony

Ebony

Ebony is a type of black wood that’s native to tropical Africa and parts of Asia, and it’s been used for centuries for everything from furniture to musical instruments.

Ebony wood is jet black with a very fine texture. The heartwood is dense and heavy, and the grain is usually straight but can be wavy or irregular. Ebony wood has a natural luster that makes it very beautiful and versatile.

Ebony wood is one of the world’s hardest woods, making it perfect for long-lasting furniture and musical instruments. Ebony wood is also very water-resistant, so it’s perfect for outdoor projects as well.

Ebony wood can be used for a variety of different projects, including furniture, musical instruments, turnings, carving, and inlays. Ebony wood is also often used to contrast against lighter-colored woods such as maple or cherry. 

9. Bamboo

bamboo

Bamboo is one of the world’s strongest, most versatile, and most environmentally-friendly types of exotic wood.

There are three most popular types of bamboo woods used in woodworking:

Moso Bamboo is native to China and grows to an impressive height of 18 meters. The culms or stems of Moso Bamboo are typically straight, with a smooth, yellow-brown surface. 

It is one of the most popular types of bamboo used in woodworking due to its strong and durable properties. It is also one of the most environmentally-friendly types of wood, as it regenerates quickly and does not require harmful pesticides or herbicides to grow.

Black Bamboo has dark culms that are often used in decorative applications. It grows to a height of 9 meters and has a diameter of 2.5-5 cm. The nodes on black bamboo are very pronounced, which gives it a unique appearance. 

Black bamboo is strong and durable, making it ideal for use in furniture or flooring.

Golden bamboo is another popular type of bamboo used in woodworking. It gets its name from its bright yellow culms, which can grow up to 15 meters tall.

Golden bamboo is strong and pliable, making it suitable for use in a variety of applications. It is also one of the fastest-growing bamboo types, making it an environmentally-friendly choice for woodworking projects.

Bamboo is prized for its strength and durability – it’s been known to withstand hurricane-force winds! It’s also hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, making it a great choice for woodworkers with allergies or sensitive skin.

10. Jarrah

Jarrah

Jarrah is a hardwood that is native to Australia. It ranges in color from light reddish brown to dark red or nearly black. Jarrah is prized for its durability and strength, making it ideal for use in outdoor furniture and other products that will be exposed to the elements.

One of the most notable things about Jarrah is how hard and dense it is. In fact, it’s one of the hardest woods in the world! This makes it ideal for outdoor furniture and other projects that will see a lot of wear and tear.

Jarrah is also dimensionally stable, meaning it won’t warp or cup over time as some other woods can. 

Another great thing about Jarrah is that it’s naturally resistant to rot and insects, making it perfect for use in damp or humid environments. 

And because it’s so dense, it’s also quite difficult to work with using traditional hand tools. However, this can be overcome by using power tools with sharp blades. 

Due to its many desirable properties, Jarrah is popular among woodworkers for a variety of different projects. Outdoor furniture is one common use, as the wood’s natural resistance to rot and insects means it will last for many years with minimal maintenance.

It’s also often used for flooring, decking, countertops, and other indoor applications where its hardness and stability are highly valued qualities. 

11. Canary

Canary

Canary is a yellow-colored hardwood that is native to Central America. Canary wood is a beautiful, unique wood that can be used for various woodworking projects. This wood is named for its Canary yellow color, which can range from pale to vibrant.

Canary wood is a very dense hardwood with a Janka hardness rating of 2300. This makes it an excellent choice for projects that require durabilities, such as flooring or furniture. Canary wood also has a low shrinkage rate, meaning it is less likely to warp or crack over time. 

Its color can vary from pale to vibrant, depending on the particular tree the lumber was sourced from. The grain pattern of canary wood is relatively straight and smooth, making it suitable for a wide range of design styles. 

Due to its strength and beauty, canary wood is commonly used in high-end furniture and cabinetry. It is also popular for flooring, paneling, and other architectural applications. 

However, it can be challenging to work with canary wood, so it is best suited for experienced woodworkers. 

12. Mahogany

Mahogany

Mahogany is a tropical hardwood that is native to Africa and the Americas. Mahogany has a reddish-brown color with darker streaks throughout. Mahogany wood is a particularly popular choice for woodworking projects because of its strength and beauty.

It is an extremely strong and durable wood that’s resistant to rot, decay, and insect damage. It’s also easy to work with, making it a good choice for both novice and experienced woodworkers alike. 

However, one thing to remember is that Mahogany can be prone to splintering if it’s not handled properly.

Because of its strength, beauty, and versatility, Mahogany is one of the most popular woods used in woodworking. It’s often used for high-impact projects like furniture and cabinetry and small projects like jewelry boxes and picture frames.

13. Bocote

Bocote

Bocote wood is a type of hardwood that is native to Central and South America. It’s an exceptionally strong and durable wood, which makes it ideal for furniture making and other high-stress applications.

Bocote wood is also very easy to work with, making it a good choice for both beginners and experienced woodworkers. Additionally, Bocote wood’s unique appearance makes your project stand out from the rest. 

Despite all of its positive attributes, there are a few disadvantages to working with Bocote wood. One of the primary drawbacks is its cost. Bocote wood is one of the more expensive types of hardwood on the market.

Bocote wood can be difficult to find in some areas due to its limited worldwide availability.

FAQ

What is the rarest wood piece?

The rarest wood pieces are rosewood, makore, and ebony. Rosewood is known for being highly sought after for its unique color and grain patterns. Makore, on the other hand, is known for being strong and durable yet also very lightweight. 

Lastly, Ebony is known as one of the most precious woods in the world, thanks to its intense black coloration.

Is it legal to harvest Mahogany?

It is legal to harvest Mahogany in some countries. In Peru, mahogany is a protected species and cannot be harvested without a special permit [1]. 

In other countries, such as Brazil, it is legal to harvest mahogany but only from specific sources and in accordance with certain regulations.

What’s the most expensive exotic wood?

The most expensive exotic wood is Ebony. It comes from certain trees in Africa and India and is coveted for its deep black color and hard and dense properties.

The price of ebony can vary depending on the quality of the wood, but it can often be quite expensive. Other types of expensive wood include rosewood, mahogany, and teak. 

(But is walnut wood pricey as well? Find out here!) 

Conclusion

While many types of wood are available for woodworking, the exotic ones we’ve listed here are some of the most beautiful and rare. If you’re looking to add a touch of luxury or uniqueness to your next project, consider using one of these thirteen types of exotic woods.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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