Ebony (African) Hardwood

Ebony (African)

African Ebony is a beautiful and versatile timber, renowned for its rich dark colour and dense, hard properties. The heartwood of African Ebony is usually black, although some species may have stripes of black and brown. The grain of African Ebony is typically straight to slightly interlocked, with a very fine and even texture. African Ebony is a species of timber known by its common name Ebony (African) and its botanical name Diospyros spp., chiefly D. crassiflora (Ebenaceae). It is a highly sought-after timber, often used for carving, sculpture, turnery and many other applications. African Ebony is usually only available in short billets of heartwood, and supplies are often limited. However, if available from sustainable and legal sources, African Ebony is a highly desired timber for many woodworking projects.

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Material Type:

Also Called:
Ebene (French), Ebenholz (German)

Durability Notes:
Ebony (African) wood is a durable timber.

The drying and seasoning of Ebony (African) is dependant on a number of factors; the speed in which it is processed after felling and logging, the method of drying and the specific kilns or location (if air dried). Generally the care taken by those processing the wood will have an impact on its drying and seasoning. As an overview; Ebony (African) - Air-drying is fairly rapid and good, apart from some possible surface checking. Ebony is very stable in service. Please note that all wood is liable to move when in service plus there can be dimensional change. The extent of this will depend on; the stability of the species itself, the conditions it is exposed to, the coating, decoration and protection. You will find more information about the suitability of this wood, for any proposed application, by using our interactive system and the filters shown.

African Ebony is a very dense wood, has very high crushing and bending strength, with high resistance to shock loads and high stiffness. Ebony has a good steam-bending classification. Ebony has a severe blunting effect on cutting edges and is hard to work with both hand and machine tools. Pre-drilling is required for nailing and screwing. Ebony can be brought to an extremely nice finish.

Typical Uses:
Furniture, Musical Instruments, Knife Handles, Inlay, Veneer, Pen Blanks, Pool Cues, Chess Pieces, Carvings, Turnings, Marquetry, Gun Grips.

Moisture Content:
Guide - 10-18% for KD (+/- 2%)

Commonly asked questions about African Ebony Wood

Is Ebony a hardwood or a softwood? Ebony is a hardwood. It is the same for; is African Ebony hardwood or softwood? - African Ebony is a hardwood.

Most groups/families of species share the same characteristics but this normally relates to their life as plants. Individual species do not always share the same characteristics as their relatives, in terms of the wood. Many factors influence how we use the wood and what we use it for, including where it grows, how it is forested, how it seasons/dries, etc. The answers to the following common questions, therefore relate to this particular species/wood and not the Ebony family as a whole. Even more specific – our answers relate to the wood (as we know it) in its form as a useable resource.

What colour is African Ebony? African Ebony can be described as black/very dark brown, dark brown

Is African Ebony good for outdoor use? or is African Ebony good for exterior use? African Ebony is most suited for exterior/external use. African Ebony can be used as an exterior/external timber (without treatment).

Whether the wood is naturally durable or not we would still recommend that it is decorated and/or coated with a suitable product to provide protection and/or maintain its appearance. This even applies when using the wood internally as, even subtle, changes in temperature or humidity will affect the wood. This will depend on the application/purpose of the wood and the user’s desired appearance. We also recommend that a recoating, care and maintenance programme is adhered to, for the life of an exterior wood. Wood cannot rot if it is kept dry – coatings and decoration can provide this protection. All of that said there are many durable timbers that are often left to weather naturally and will last for many years untreated/coated – movement and visual changes will occur but this is sometimes the desired effect. All wood is hygroscopic (it 'wants' to be in tune with its environment) it will therefore take on water from moisture in the air (or when directly exposed to or submerged in water) and ‘release it’ when dry or exposed to heat. This, inevitably, results in movement and dimensional change. For more about moisture in wood please click here - Moisture in wood

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