Wenge

wenge

Common Name(s): WengeScientific Name: Millettia laurentiiDistribution: Africa (Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zaire)

Tree Size: 60-90 ft (18-27 m) tall, 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 57 lbs/ft3 (910 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .74, .91

Janka Hardness: 2,240 lbf (9,940 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 22,020 lbf/in2 (151.9 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 2,379,000 lbf/in2 (16.40 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 11,910 lbf/in2 (82.1 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 3.1%, Tangential: 5.8%, Volumetric: 8.9%, T/R Ratio: 1.9

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a very dark brown with black streaks. But unlike most other woods, Wenge is reported to become lighter when exposed to light.

Grain/Texture: Has a straight grain and a coarse texture. Wenge also has very large pores that can present a challenge to fill if a perfectly smooth/leveled finish is desired.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; brown mineral deposits occasionally present; growth rings distinct; rays not visible without lens; parenchyma vasicentric to confluent, with wide bands of parenchyma typically as thick as the pores.

Rot Resistance: Very durable, and resistant to termite attack.

Workability: Can be difficult to work with hand and power tools. Blunts tool edges. Can sand unevenly due to differences in density between light and dark areas. Can easily get splinters when handling this wood, which tend to go septic (see safety information below).

Odor: Wenge has a faint, slightly bitter scent when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon,  breathing Wenge wood dust has been reported to cause central nervous system effects, irritation of the skin and eyes, and is a sensitizer. Also, Wenge splinters tend to take longer to heal and  are more likely to go septic (get infected) than splinters from other woods. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Tends to be on the high side, close to other exotic tropical hardwoods such as Cocobolo or Zebrawood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.

Common Uses: Flooring, tool handles, paneling, and furniture.

Comments: Wenge has excellent strength and hardness properties, and is also dark enough to be used as a substitutes for ebony.