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 HOME WOOD LIBRARY Macassar Ebony Craft Wood

Information on Macassar Ebony Lumber
(diospyros insularis)

Black Ebony is an exotic species probably most known for its use as fingerboards for various musical instruments, whereas the macassar ebony is the wood of choice for many decorative turners. Its amazing striped pattern of real blacks and dark chocolate browns is an unresistable draw for those in the know.

Other Names: calamander wood, variegated ebony

The Tree:
Ebony is the Greek word for "fruit of the gods" and if you read the history books they suggest that drinking goblets were made from this wood, as they believed it was an antidote for poison, and its use would ward off their enemy's evil intent.

There are 100's of types of ebony worldwide, but most are only shrubs, and only one found in N. America .. the persimmon tree, known best as a wood for the manufacture of golf clubs.

The trees today are few and far between, and of a much smaller size then 20 year ago, ... found on the Asian, Indian and African continent. They can grow to 50' in height & 1 1/2' around, but you're talking about a tree over 100 years old, thus supplies of all sorts of ebony are in relatively limited supply.

Wood Description:
Information on macassar ebony lumber is relatively limited. It is an ebony from India and the East Indies and varies from its closest cousin in the colour banding that makes this wood so dramatic in appearance.

Macassar lumber is less brittle than the gaboon and thus less prone to splitting. The grain can be dramatic and variable from one board to the next.

Weight:approximately 65+ lbs per cubic foot

The wood is very dense thus no fillers are necessary. It finishes to a beautiful sheen, with limited time and effort, although its hardness does dictate sanding through a range of grits.

Must have sharp tools, dulling will occur, but cuts easily with a bandsaw. It turns nicely on a lathe although not as great as the gaboon (more grain). Sanding works quite well with power tools, but next to impossible with hand sanding (forget the cheap sandpaper, it won't touch it). Burning can happen if you exert too much pressure on a dull sanding belt, so start with a fresh one.

If you are using it as an inlay with other open pored woods, you do have to be a bit careful. The fine dust can accumulate in the open grain and alter the colour of the contrasting wood... Do use a compressor and blow off the surface well, prior to finishing, then use a tack rag to remove any loose particles.

I hope this information on macassar ebony lumber will encourage you to give it a try as it really is a truly beautiful wood.

Fine Dust can be an irritant so WEAR a mask!

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theWoodbox.com Jan 2007