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.
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.