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 HOME WOOD LIBRARY Jatoba/Brazilian Cherry Wood

Jatoba / Brazilian Cherry

Jatoba wood, is often used in flooring but also ideal for stair treads, athletic equipment, tool handles, railroad ties, gear cogs and wheel rims. Can also be used for carpentry, cabinet making and general woodworking joinery.

I have sold it to clients as a cheaper substitute for teak, when it is the appearance you are looking for and don't necessarily need the oily, rot resistant characteristics of teak. Jatoba and teak can look very similar.

The Tree: Leguminosae Family
Jatoba (Hymenaea courbaril) grows to an average height of 120 feet with diameters of 2-4 feet. In the retail market, Jatoba is most often referred to as Brazilian Cherry ... although it is not a cherry wood. It has also been called Locust or Courbaril in different areas of South America. It grows in most of the South American islands as well as Mexico, Brazil and Peru.

Wood Description:
The wood is an attractive burgundy, deep red, or orange tone, and some of it can even have dark black stripes highlighting a strong visible grain pattern. It can exhibit quite a large colour variation from one board to the next.

The heartwood varies in colour from a salmon red to an orange brown when it is freshly cut which darkens to a red brown when seasoned. The sapwood can be wide and is much lighter in colour - either white or pink and sometimes gray and does not darken to the deep red-orange tones common with the heart wood..

It is not as porous as mahogany but harder and denser.

Brazilian wood has a natural luster, with a medium to coarse texture. It has no obvious taste or odor. The heartwood is rated as only moderately resistance to attack by fungi and marine borers. Although the books might suggest the wood is relatively stable once it has been dried properly, my experience might suggest that every so often you'll get a few pieces of wood that really don't want to behave... they don't like to be glued and if they can twist, they will.. it is not one of the easiest woods I have used, but the gorgeous colours do warrant an extra bit of effort.

Weight: 56 lbs. per cubic foot.

Jatoba sands and finishes easily. Polishing can create a wonderful luster. It stains well.

Moderate steam bending rating. Can be hard to work with, having severe blunting effect on tools. It is moderately difficulty to saw and machine because of the wood's high density and toughness. Experts recommend a reduced cutting angle of 20 degrees, and the use of carbide cutters as much as possible. The wood's interlocked grain also causes some difficulty in planing.

Again the books suggest that Jatoba has good gluing properties, but because I have had problems I'd always error on the side of caution and uses waterproof PVA glues like the helmitin 805, or Titebond III that seem to have more holding power and use standard laminated parasites recommended for oily woods.

Brazilian Cherry wood nails badly and must be pre-bored before nailing. The screw-holding ability is considered good. Although jatoba turns well, the grain can be somewhat powerful and require sharp tools to avoid tearout.


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theWoodbox.com Jan 2007