Ebony Wood: Uses, Types, Properties, Pros & Cons

Ebony Wood Uses, Types, Properties, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Ebony is several species of plants in the genus Diospyros. One of the ebonies is Gaboon ebony. The Gaboon ebony tree is 50-60 ft tall, 2-3 ft trunk diameter, with the distribution of Equatorial West Africa.

Some other ebony is black and white, Ceylon ebony, Macassar ebony, and mun ebony. But in this article, we will focus more on Gaboon ebony.

ebony wood

What is ebony wood?

Ebony wood is the wood of several plants in the genus Diospyros. Gaboon ebony wood is black wood with a few other colors.

This is a unique wood and great for things like turned objects. Gaboon ebony resistance to rot is considered very durable.

Moreover, the price of this wood is very high, maybe even more expensive than rosewood.

The most important facts in brief

Ebony comes from several trees of the genus Diospyros of the ebony family.

Depending on the species, the properties of ebony differ. In general, however, ebony is very heavy and one of the hardest woods in the world.

Today, ebony is mainly used for crafts, musical instruments, or veneer in furniture.

The properties of ebony wood

It is a very durable wood against decay.

Gaboon ebony wood also has resistance to insects and termites.

The density of this wood is very high, so it can be difficult to work.

A mild and slightly unpleasant odor may be smelled during the working.

This wood can also cause several health risks, such as skin, eye, and respiratory irritation.

Measured value descriptionvalues
Raw Density1.0 – 1.03 g/cm  
Average densityapprox. 1,000 kg/m³  
Compressive strengthapprox. 79 N/mm²  
bending strengthapprox. 190 N/mm²  

Colour

As already mentioned, the different varieties also have different colors. The black ebony is the most valuable and, at the same time, the rarest.

The color of this wood is white to pinkish-gray, and the heartwood has a deep blue-black hue. On irregular stretches, it can sometimes also have brownish or blackish-gray fields.

Structure

Ebony has scattered or fine to medium pores. With black ebony, the pores are often filled with black content and therefore appear poreless. This also gives the wood a corresponding shine.

The wood beams are very fine, and the storage cells are only partially visible on smooth cross-sections. Fine and tangential lines can still be seen.

In striped woods, the fibers run in a slight alternating twist. These can run erratically in some places.

How is ebony processed?

The wood is cut with hand and machine tools. Because ebony is a very hard and heavy type of wood, it takes a lot of strength. However, with the right tools, the wood can be easily planed and polished. All types of ebony are very suitable for turning and carving, and the colorfully striped ones are especially suitable for knives.

The heartwood of ebony is very rarely affected by fungi or insects. So-called “pinholes” are sometimes caused by the Ambroisa beetle, which lives only in live or freshly felled trees.

For successful processing, the wood must be dried extremely slowly. If it dries too quickly, the enormous vibration values ​​and immense density can lead to cracks in the wood. However, most ebony woods are highly resistant to aging and weathering.

Ebony wood advantages and disadvantages

Advantages

Exceptionally durable: Not only Gaboon ebony but also all ebony seems to be very resistant to rot.

Although there is some ebony with unclear information and no information about its resistance, Gaboon ebony is also resistant to insects and termites.

It’s excellent for some long-term wooden objects, although we think this use of wood might only be for small things.

Appearance: It is wood with a unique black jet. The black in Gaboon ebony is very dominant, with a bit of dark brown.

There seem to be only a few visible grains. However, this wood looks elegant, especially when it has become a finished product.

It seemed like it would be an expensive item of great value because we think it is like a luxury item judging from his appearance.

Disadvantages

Expensive: Ebony is a costly wood, maybe very expensive, including Gaboon ebony wood.

The reason maybe because it’s a rare wood with an exotic look. Some ebony may be very rarely available.

It seems that buying finished ebony goods is the right choice rather than buying the wood.

It seems that it’s easier to obtain and keep the population in nature from becoming extinct.

Workability: Not all ebony is difficult to work with, but here we are based on information about Gaboon ebony wood.

This is a wood that can be difficult to work on due to its very high density.

The use of machines is highly recommended to simplify and speed up the work.

Problems with gluing sometimes occur.

This is because Gaboon ebony also has a high oil content. Great pre-work planning is highly recommended.

What is ebony wood used for?

Ebony was already used as a material for furniture in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, ebony is more commonly used today as a veneer for furniture due to its high price point.

Ebony is often used as a material for musical instruments, such as pianos. The wood is also suitable for billiard cues, canes and chess pieces, and other carved or wood-turning handicrafts.

It is also excellent for musical instruments such as clarinets, flutes, bassoons, drumsticks, and deluxe piano keys.

Ebony wood for musical instrument and its parts

Gaboon, Ceylon, and Macassar ebony can be used in various musical instruments and musical instruments parts.

For example, Gaboon ebony for piano keys, and Ceylon bridges, nuts, piano keys, and others.

You can use Macassar ebony for musical instruments, especially guitars.

We’ve seen some pictures, and the Macassar ebony guitar is very exotic with a beautiful look.

Ebony wood for carvings

Some ebony is also suitable for carvings. It looks like curved ebony objects will look exotic, beautiful, and have high artistic value.

Besides that, it seems like the price will also be in the very expensive range.

Some of the commonly used ebony for this are Gaboon, Ceylon, and Mun ebony.

We don’t know if another ebony is suitable for this, but it seems worth a try.

Ebony wood for turned objects

Turnings are a pretty good way to make some decorations or turned objects.

You can work ebony with turnings to produce exotic wood items that may have a high price.

However, not all ebony is commonly used for this.

Our sources of information only mention Black and White, Ceylon, and Mun ebony, although we think Gaboon and Macassar are also worth to try

Ebony wood for inlay

In addition to turned objects, you can also use Black and White, Ceylon, and Mun ebony for inlays.

It looks like the appearance of this wood is very attractive, for that matter.

The figure will make the inlay look beautiful with any shape.

We think it’s pretty good for decoration. It will make your home more beautiful.

Ebony wood for veneer

Macassar and Mun ebony can be used for veneers, although we think that’s too overdo. We know that ebony is an expensive wood, even maybe very expensive.

It seems like making veneers is a waste. Because it seems like veneer only requires ordinary quality wood at low to medium prices.

However, if you want to make it veneer, use it. It doesn’t seem bad either if that’s the case.

Ebony wood for high-end cabinetry

Maybe you have a dream about a luxurious kitchen at an expensive cost. It seems like you can use Macassar ebony for that. It would be an elegant dark theme kitchen cabinetry.

Not only that, you may need cabinetry to be placed elsewhere as decoration to make the room more beautiful.

It seems like this plan will be expensive, maybe even costly.

Ebony wood for billiard cues

Not only high-end cabinetry but also billiard cues can be made from Macassar ebony. We’ve seen some pictures of Macassar ebony billiard cues, and they seem pretty good.

The dark color can show an elegant and charming appearance. However, the price seems to be in the expensive to the very expensive range because the cost of Macassar ebony wood may be very high.

Types of ebony wood

There are different types of ebony. In the tropical regions, the commercially used color striped and black ebony is the most common.

However, these are found under certain conditions and are only scattered. However, the largest number of species have pale pinkish-brown wood and are less colorfully striped.

Black and White Ebony (Diospyros spp.)

Black and White ebony is also known as Pale Moon Ebony. The tree is 50-115 feet tall, and the trunk diameter is 1-3 feet.

Black and White ebony is very exotic and very unique wood. This wood is very expensive, highly resistant to decay, and is not commonly available.

Commonly used wood is for inlays, turned objects, and other small objects.

Ceylon Ebony (Diospyros ebenum)

This is a scarce wood, with a price that may be very expensive. This wood has a black dominant, with other colors in it. The durability of this wood seems to be very durable against decay.

However, Ceylon ebony has a high density and directly affects it, making it difficult to work.

Ceylon is commonly used for turned objects, carving, inlays, and some musical instruments parts.

Gaboon Ebony (Diospyros crassiflora)

Gaboon ebony wood has a dark appearance. It’s a very durable wood against decay and resistant to insects and termites.

But it may be difficult to work because the density it has is very high. This wood is commonly used for small objects, pool cues, carvings, and others.

Gaboon ebony is also known as African ebony, Cameroon ebony, and Nigerian ebony.

There are other species of black ebony in Madagascar, such as D. perrieri and D. toxicaria .

The Washington Agreement on International Trade covers all species in Madagascar in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which has been in effect since 2013 and imposes certain restrictions on imports and exports.

Yet there is no effective international control.

Macassar Ebony (Diospyros celebica)

Macassar ebony is also known as Amara ebony and Striped ebony. This is wood with the appearance of dark brown to black, with straight grain.

Heartwood is rated as durable against decay but has poor resistance to insects/borers. The price of this wood may be costly.

Common uses are high-end cabinetry, veneer, musical instruments, and others.

Mun Ebony (Diospyros mun)

Mun ebony, also known as Vietnamese ebony, is a brown to black wood with straight grains. The price of this wood is likely very high.

The source of sales is also doubtful because it is endangered. The reason is that 80% of population reduction occurred during the last 3 generations.

Common Uses for this wood are carvings, inlays, turned objects, and veneers.

Only small quantities of ebony are imported within Asia-Pacific, as India and Sri Lanka have been subject to an international trade ban on raw wood since 1998. The species D. Ferrera, D. hebecarpa, D. humilis, D. insularis, D. Mollis are mainly found here.

The species Diospyros crassinervi (Caribbean – Cuban ebony) and D. texana (Texas, northeast Mexico – Mexican ebony) are found on the American continent, but they are rarely offered for international trade.

How expensive is ebony and where can you buy it?

Many ebony species are protected today, and therefore, it is only available in small quantities and hence very valuable. In the timber trade, ebony is offered for approximately 19,000 to 26,000 dollars per cubic meter (m³). Ebony is usually priced per kilo per cubic meter.

A good quality ebony wood weighs between 900 and 1000 kilos. If we now take the price per cubic meter of 20,000 Dollars, we arrive at 18 to 20 Dollars per kilo.

Ebony is for sale in hardware stores or at wood merchants in the area. Pay particular attention to the exact origin and, if necessary, to a certificate.

Very often, however, B-grade goods or counterfeits are offered on the market. The price mainly recognizes this.

Even though most counterfeits are already very good, real ebony is characterized by its durability, hardness, and density, which the counterfeits cannot compete with at all.

What alternatives are there to ebony?

Since ebony is very expensive and has a large carbon footprint due to the long transport routes, some domestic alternatives depend on the usage requirements.

Furthermore, you can easily treat different types of hardwood with dark wood varnish to get a similar ebony effect. However, you should make sure that the ingredients are biodegradable.

Conclusion

This is a costly wood. Some ebony is very resistant to rot. This wood has an exotic and beautiful appearance.

You should not use ebony too much because of its rare status. The use of ebony is quite a lot, and it’s recommended to use it within reasonable limits.

Ebony has different properties depending on the species.

The colors vary from the rare deep black to a pale pinkish gray wood. Its hardness, density, and resistance characterize the noble wood.

Today, ebony is mainly used for veneer in furniture and the manufacture of musical instruments and crafts.

A kilo of ebony costs between $18 and $20, Because of its rarity and threat, ebony is so expensive, only available in small quantities. It is considered one of the most valuable woods in the world.

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