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African Ebony

Wood Flooring Species

Scientific Name:

Diospyros spp.

Other Names and Species:

Kanran
Kukuo (Gambia)
Mgiriti
Msindi (Tanzania)
Nyareti (Nigeria)
Omenowa (Ghana)

Origin:

Equatorial West Africa. This species is not to be confused with Brazilian Ebony (Swartzia tomentosa), which comes from South America.

Appearance:

When freshly cut, the sapwood of African ebony is pink-colored, but darkens to a pale red brown; whereas the heartwood shows a uniform jet-black or black-brown color, sometimes with streaks. Ebony has a very fine texture, with the grain ranging from straight to slightly interlocked, or even moderately curly. The luster of this wood may have an almost metallic appearance.

Properties:

An attractive and popular wood with many decorative uses, ebony is notably hard, heavy, and strong, and also very resistant to termite attack.

Janka Hardness: 3220

Ebony is an incredibly hard and durable wood flooring choice. It is over two-thirds harder than merbau, roughly one hundred and twenty-two percent harder than hard maple, over ninety-seven percent harder than wenge, and just over forty-six percent harder than santos mahogany’s ranking of 2200.

Workability:

This highly durable wood is difficult to work with either machine or hand tools, due to its extreme hardness; and, as any contractor or builder can tell you, it has a pronounced dulling effect on tool edges. It usually requires pre-drilling to nail or screw. However, it finishes to a naturally dark and polished surface. Note that prolonged exposure to ebony sawdust may cause dermatitis.

Principal Uses:

Besides being used in hardwood flooring and inlaid work, ebony can be found in piano keys and other musical instruments, cutlery and tool handles, decorative carvings, and turnery.

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