is a good choice for flooring strips and blocks and for interior
and exterior joinery and general construction work. It is a good
wood for turning and is sliced for paneling and veneers for furniture
and cabinets. As with most exotic woods, it is selected for its
colour and dramatic appearance in any project that seems appropriate.
That being said, it is definitely not used in acoustic guitars,
because its porosity dampens the sound waves.
The Tree: Millettia Laurentii Family
Wenge is a member of the great tree producing family, Leguminosae
and comes from Zaire and other small countries of West Africa. There
are about 40 species of Millettia, many of them tropical vines and
shrubs. The tree variety can attain heights of 90 feet with a bole
as large as 3-4 feet in diameter.
The heartwood is dark brown, almost black. On the quartersawn surface,
fine pencil-thin, light tan lines interspersed with blackish brown
stripes make the surface appear as if it has been stroked by the
fine claws of some wild jungle animal. On the tangential surface,
the light lines show up as undulating streaks, like waves on the
water. Orientation of the grain is an important consideration to
show the wood at its best. Wenge is straight grained, and very coarse
textured, similar to the slivers from bamboo flooring.
Weight: Averages 55 lbs. per cubic foot.
This wood will sand reasonably well and give an acceptable finish
if one is aware of the oily surface. It is a very porous wood though,
so pore filling is essential if a fine finish is required... challenging
for the beginning woodworker.
Wenge wood provides a challenge to both the artist and the crafting
skill. Sharp tools are essential. The long coarse texture can tend
to tearout and cause some difficulty in sanding. The wood will glue
well if the gluing is done as soon as the surface is dressed by
planing, sanding or scraping. Workers can be adversely affected
by the irritating dust of wenge. Its toxicity is well known in many
parts of the world because the bark of several species is ground
into a powder to numb fish for harvest. Dust collection systems
are essential when working with wenge and remove wood slivers ASAP
because they tend to fester.