African Blackwood

Scientific Name: Dalbergia melanoxylon

Origin: Dry savanna regions of central and southern Africa

Other Names: African Blackwood, Mpingo (Swahili), Granadillo

Average density: 79lbs/ft3 – 1,270kg/m3

Uses: Musical instruments (guitars, clarinets, oboes, etc.), inlay, carving, tool handles, turnery

African Blackwood is considered to be among the hardest and densest of woods in the world. Often completely black, with little or no discernible grain. Occasionally, it is slightly lighter, with a dark brown or purplish hue. The pale yellow sapwood is usually very thin, and is clearly demarcated from the darker heartwood. African Blackwood has a fine, even texture, with small pores that should not require filling; the grain is typically straight. It has a very slow drying time, so it is advisable to seal each piece ends with wax in order to avoid cracking. Very difficult to work with hand or machine tools, with an extreme blunting effect on cutters. Woodwind instrument makers prefer it to Ebony for its tonality, acoustic characteristics, stability and resistance to saliva.