Lignum Vitae: Wood Uses, Properties, Pros & Cons

Lignum Vitae Wood Uses, Properties, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Lignum vitae is a rare exotic species with a tree only 20-30 feet tall, with 1-2 feet diameter. The meaning of “lignum vitae” is “tree of life.” It got its name because of the tree’s medicinal properties, such as its resin for treating arthritis and coughs.

This is a tree that lives in the Americas, precisely Central America and northern South America. It’s an endangered wood,  and lignum vitae is the wood that is on the IUCN Red List and CITES Appendix II.

The population of lignum vitae is significantly reduced because of the wood and its resins.

What is lignum vitae wood?

Lignum vitae wood is very exotic and seems to be very liked by many people. But it makes the population decline and become very rare. It is a wood that ranges in heartwood from olive, dark greenish-brown to almost black.

The lignum vitae grains interlock, making them look more attractive. The durability of lignum vitae is incredible, including when in contact with the ground and submerged.

Because of that, some common uses of lignum vitae are in the range of it. Other common uses of lignum vitae are turned objects, mallet heads, tool handles, pulley wheels, etc.

The properties of lignum vitae wood

It is an incredible wood and is considered by many to be the hardest and heaviest wood in the world. Lignum vitae is also a very durable wood against rotting outdoors and very durable against insect attack.

The appearance of this wood is also very attractive, smooth and oily textured, lightly scented like perfume, with its unique color and interlocking grains.

Lignum vitae has also been reported to cause skin irritation, although severe reactions may be rare.

Lastly, it’s a difficult wood to work, including due to the high density and oil content.

Lignum vitae wood advantages and disadvantages


Very durable: Its wood is very resistant to rot for outdoor use. Lignum vitae is also very resistant to insect attacks. This is an incredible wood with some advantages.

You can use it for ground or submerged use, as it’s very good at that. This advantage also makes lignum vitae great for many wooden objects for long-term use.

However, it’s not recommended for furniture, or other large wooden objects, because it usually requires a larger quantity of lignum vitae wood. That can make this wood even rarer and endangered, though it’s very good wood.

Incredible appearance: The appearance and color of lignum vitae are incredible. You can see the beauty of the colors combination and grain figured on lignum vitae wood.

It’s wood with varied colors of olive, dark greenish-brown to almost black for the color of the heartwood. The lignum vitae grains are interlocked with a texture that feels oily and very smooth.

Increasing age will make the lignum vitae darker, especially when exposed to sunlight. It looks like a turned object’s lignum vitae will look very beautiful.

It’s very good for home decoration that is placed on the table in the family room.


Quite difficult to work: Overall, lignum vitae is quite difficult to work. One of the reasons is because of its very high density. This is a wood that can make cutters blunt, perhaps because it has a high silica content.

It seems like you will be quite difficult when glues, because of the oil content and high density. It’s recommended to use machine tools to work the wood.

So that the work process can run better, faster, and easier, perform work with various types of woodwork as needed. Do not experiment with this wood, as it’s best to have the work done by a professional.

Very expensive: Prices for genuine lignum vitae are in the very expensive range. Trades usually also come from dubious sources.

This may be because trade is restricted for several reasons, including being endangered. Discontinuation of the use of lignum vitae wood seems to have to stop.

Its rare population makes us have to be aware and prevent it from extinction. Another solution that can be used as an option is to reuse existing wood.

That will minimize the feeling of new trees. If you do, it will be great. Re-create the lignum vitae to become new objects might make it more expensive.

Lignum vitae wood for tool handles

The use of lignum vitae as tool handles can be a pretty good choice. This is a wooden wood with a very fine texture, which can make it comfortable when gripped.

Lignum vitae also has a gorgeous appearance and color. It’s great for adding artistic value to handles, especially handles for decorative items.

The manufacture of handles does not require large quantities and sizes of wood, it only requires small sizes.

Making the handle seems quite easy to work, although overall, lignum vitae is quite difficult to work. The density of this wood can also make the grip more sturdy.

Lignum vitae wood for mallet heads

It is the wood that is considered by most to be the hardest and heaviest. That is reason enough to make lignum vitae mallet heads.

This wood also has a high density, making it even better. Making it seems pretty easy if a simple mallet head is of regular shape.

Or you can put the mallet heads with the handles. It seems like it would be even better, though we think it would require more wood.

Lignum vitae mallet heads will be high-value items, including artistic value and price. Purchasing finished goods can be a better option.

Lignum vitae wood for bearings

For almost the same reason as mallet heads, lignum vitae is also suitable for bearings. That will make bearings durable and of high quality. It seems that its hardness and high density make bearings less prone to wear.

Although the display is not needed in this case, it looks pretty good if the bearings have an artistic look. It will make your equipment more beautiful and highly valued.

Seems good enough for wood and metal machines, and just adjust it to your needs. Maybe some devices are suitable for using wooden bearings or not at all.

Lignum vitae wood for bushings

Another common use of lignum vitae is bushings. This can be a good choice as an alternative to bushings made of other materials.

The density and hardness of this wood seem to suit it and might make for quality bushings. But we think it’s better to use metal bushings. Maybe it’s cheaper than wooden bushings made of lignum vitae.

This can be an alternative if you have lignum vitae and happen to need bushings. If you have more lignum vitae bushings, it’s likely to be pretty good for selling at a high price.

Lignum vitae wood for pulley wheels

Lignum vitae pulley wheels seem to be very good. Lignum vitae has very durable, hard, and dense. It seems that all these conditions have been met for wooden pulley wheels.

Although often used, it seems not to be worn out easily, because of the high density. The appearance is also very good, it will add great value to the item, although we don’t think it matters.

You can use it for various needs, both heavy and ordinary. Just trust this wood because lignum vitae is commonly used for it.

Lignum vitae wood for turned objects

The last common use you can choose is turned objects. The appearance of lignum vitae is very exotic and beautiful, with a rarity that can make it more valuable.

Seems like this can be used as an alternative to ash, birch, cherry, maple, and walnut. You can make it into an expensive decoration item or valuable items that might be of use.

We thought making it into a small item was good enough, then put it on a simple table as a decoration.

Don’t forget to choose a lignum vitae with a good look.