is truly an exotic wood, used in a limited way for veneer, wall paneling,
custom furniture, furniture trim, inlay bandings, marquetry, specialty
items and turnery. Because of its hardness, it can also be used for
skis and tool handles but that might seem like quite a shame for such
an dramatic, exotic wood species.
More often today it is even seen in a collection of exotic wood
floors. Zebrawood floors can certainly add a unique feel to any
home decorating project. Just make sure that you don't find it overwhelming,
as you'll have it for life. Exotic wood floors are expensive and
your not likely to change it like the paint on a wall.
It has a relatively small following of woodworkers that even knows
it exists, but those that do and venture to use it, are awed by
its dramatic colour banding.
The Tree: Leguminosae family (Microberlina,
Zebrawood is distinctive for its zebra like light and dark stripes.
The term, "zebrawood" is shared by several different woods with
this particular appearance. The most common species available are
from West Africa. They are an equatorial tree of medium to large
size, gregarious, commonly growing in pure strands along riverbanks.
Can grow to heights of 150 feet with trunk diameters of 4 to 5 feet.
When cut it gives off an unpleasant aroma which disappears as it
dries. We kid around in the shop, that when planing this wood it
smells like our sewer has backed up.
A heavy hard wood with a somewhat coarse texture, with the typical
so-called zebra stripes, often with an interlocked or wavy grain.
The heartwood is a pale golden yellow, distinct from the very pale
colour of the sapwood and features narrow streaks of dark brown
to black. Zebrawood can also be a pale brown with regular or irregular
marks of dark brown in varying widths. It is almost always quartersawn
to get the exciting alternating colour pattern and a straight grain.
It is a true exotic wood, with limited availability and relatively
Weight: 36-45 pounds per cubic foot
Difficult to finish because of the dual nature of the grain but
finishes well once it's filled. The wood itself has a lustrous appearance.
This wood is easy to saw but difficult to work with. Of all the
woods I have handled, this rates as the worst to plane. It does
not seem to matter which direction it is feed into a planer, it
tears out badly in either direction. Experts recommend the use of
a belt sander as the only feasible way to get a good smooth finish.
If you receive it presanded, it is relatively easy to cut to size
for all your woodworking projects. Can be glued if done with care.
Be warned that zebrawood may look like an amazing exotic wood BUT
it smells like its name sake.. it is the absolute worst wood I have
ever planed and smells like your toilet backed up. Aim to plane
it just before you leave for the night and leave the window open
to clear the "scent" out before you return.. good luck,