Blackwood Uses, Types, Properties, Advantages, and Disadvantages
We found information on 4 blackwoods from 3 different genera, African and Burmese blackwoods in the genus Dalbergia, Australian blackwoods in the genus Acacia, and Malaysian blackwoods from Dyospiros.
All three have different characteristics, such as appearance, durability, workability, usability, and others. Overall, prices and availability are different. Next, we will explain this in more detail.
What is blackwood?
Blackwood here doesn’t refer to some wood in the genus but refers to “Blackwood.” Not all are black, but they tend to be black.
Africans are often black, Australians are golden brown and reddish with black grains, Burmese vary purplish-brown, some are black, and Malaysians are medium brown to nearly black.
The properties of blackwood
Almost all of them have different properties. Durability tends from durable to very durable. Australian is easily worked, Malaysian is difficult, Burmese can be difficult to work, and African is tough.
African can give the cutter an extreme blunt effect. So that is a significant shortcoming. However, it’s the best wood for turned objects.
Blackwood advantages and disadvantages
Appearance: African blackwood is black, so it isn’t easy to see the grain. However, it’s gorgeous.
Australian is brown, has a straight grain, and looks ordinary.
Burmese and Malaysian are very beautiful. Burmese has a unique color with unusual wavy grains.
Malaysian also has a unique combination of medium brown to nearly black, with wavy grain figured.
Durability: African blackwood is considered very durable to rot and quite resistant to insect/borer attacks.
Australian blackwood is relatively stable against decay but vulnerable to insect attack.
Meanwhile, there is no data about Burmese and Malaysian blackwood, but both are likely to be very durable, And Burmese seems to be resistant to termites.
Pricing: African blackwood is in the costly price range, Maybe because it grows slowly and is rare.
At the same time, the price of Australian blackwood is relatively high and more expensive for the figure.
Burmese blackwood is in the mid to high price range in the imported hardwood category.
The last one is Malaysian blackwood, rarely available and the price is very high.
Workability: Australian blackwood tends to work efficiently with machine and hand tools.
In comparison, Malaysian seems to tend to be quite challenging to work because it gives a blunt effect and high density.
For Burmese, it also seems quite difficult because of the density it has And lastly is African blackwood is very difficult to work, with a highly blunt effect.
Health risk: African, Burmese, and Malaysian blackwoods are reported as sensitizers.
It can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation reactions.
While Australian blackwood is the same as that, it’s just added symptoms such as asthma.
This health risk must be considered, especially when working. It’s better to do prevention than to have treatment.
Population: African and Burmese blackwoods are reportedly near threatened by the IUCN but are not on the red list.
It’s also listed in the CITES appendix II. The Malaysian blackwood is neither listed on CITES nor IUCN, but the scientific name “Diospyros ebonasea” is unverified.
Vulnerable/threatened status is the label for many species in the Diospyros genus.
Blackwood for furniture
Several types of blackwood can be used for furniture. It seems this is the right choice if you look at their characteristics.
However, it seems that only Australian and Burmese are commonly used.
The color and grain figured also seem to match, especially the unique Burmese blackwood.
For another blackwood, we can not recommend. But, you can try it.
Blackwood for veneer
Only Australian blackwood is commonly used for veneers. The look of this wood is ideal for that, even though it doesn’t look attractive.
It may also include other characteristics. Used as a veneer is also not a wrong choice. The population is not rare and easy to work with hand tools and machines.
Blackwood for musical instruments
All types of blackwood are commonly used for musical instruments, although users vary.
Examples include African blackwood for guitars and oboes, Burmese blackwood for percussion, and Malaysian blackwood for acoustic guitars.
We have no information regarding the use of Australian blackwood for certain types of musical instruments. So, please find for more information.
Blackwood for gunstocks
This seems like a good wood for it. The Australian blackwood color is like most gunstocks on guns, but that’s after further processing.
Moreover, this wood is worked easily, including by using a machine.
So, it seems like you can easily make it yourself and won’t have much trouble with it, especially if you’re a professional.
Blackwood for turned objects
Turned objects seem like something suitable for blackwood use Because all the blackwood here is commonly used.
African, Australian, Burmese, and Malaysian blackwoods are great for turned objects.
Moreover, Burmese and Malaysian have a grain-figured appearance that has high artistic value.
So it looks like it will make turned objects even more valuable.
Blackwood for inlays
The use of rare wood with a highly figured is likely to make an inlay more valuable.
That’s why you can use African, Burmese, and Malaysian Blackwood for that.
However, it seemed too valuable to use these woods, but the resulting artistic look may be much better than using ordinary wood.
Blackwood for carving
Burmese and African blackwood seem pretty good for carving.
Although we think African blackwood is only suitable for certain carvings because it’s black.
But Burmese blackwood seems very good. This wood has a gorgeous appearance but may be challenging to work with due to its density.
So, the use of high-quality tools seems recommended.
Blackwood for tool handles
You can try using African blackwood as a tool handle.
The black color will give an unusual effect as most handle colors tend to be brown.
This wood seems comfortable to use in hand and is suitable for fastening tools.
Besides African, Malaysian Blackwood is also can use for knife handles.
Types of blackwood
African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon)
The African blackwood tree is only 20-30 feet tall, with 2-3 feet diameter.
It has a black wood color with grains that tend to be less visible. The wood is very durable against decay and is quite resistant to insect attack.
It gives an extreme blunt effect to the cutter and is very difficult to work with.
The price of this wood is very high, but it’s good for guitar, clarinet, carving, inlay, and others.
Australian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon)
Australian blackwood is native to eastern Australia and Tasmania but has also been introduced to South America, Africa, and South Asia.
Also known as Tasmanian blackwood and Acacia blackwood, it’s a tree 65-100 feet tall and 2-3 feet diameter.
The wood is quite durable against decay but is susceptible to insect attack.
They are commonly used for veneers, musical instruments, gunstocks, turned objects, and more.
Burmese Blackwood (Dalbergia cultrata)
Burmese Blackwood, also known as Khamphi Rosewood or Laos Rosewood, is a 65-100 feet tall tree with 1-1.6 feet diameter.
It has a unique look with a beautiful grain figured. This wood is likely to be very resistant to decay, and it’s also termite-resistant.
The price range of this wood is mid to upper, and is commonly used for furniture, inlays, turned objects, and others.
Malaysian blackwood is Diospyros ebonasea in the scientific name, but it’s unconfirmed. This wood looks very attractive with a variety of grains figured.
There is no data on its resistance to decay, but it’s likely very durable. Malaysian blackwood is rarely available, very expensive, and tends to be rather difficult to work.
Commonly used for turned objects, acoustic guitars, inlays, and knife handles.
Some blackwoods are exotic, but we think it’s pretty wise to choose another wood. Although the blackwood look is lovely, some durability types are good, but some are rare.
That’s why you should choose another wood whose population is still abundant.
If you want to choose wood with many uses, you can try choosing birch wood. We’ve also has written articles about birch.