BOTANICAL NAME: Primarily Turraeanthus africana (syn T. africanus) of the Family Meliaceae, the mahogany family, but may also include T. klainei (Klein's avodire), T. vignei (from Ghana or the Congo), and T. zenkeri

COMMON NAMES: Blimah-pu (Liberia), Apapaye (Ghana), Lusamba (Zaire), Apaya (Nigeria), apeya, appayia, blimah-pu, olon, lusamba, agbe, esu, engen, African satinwood, African furniture wood, African white mahogany, white mahogany. Note that while "African satinwood" is a favored name in the USA, there are several other species, some unrelated, that are also called African satinwood.

TYPE: type

COLOR: Heartwood creamy white to pale yellow, darkening to a gold yellow; sapwood not differentiated. Long exposure to light darkens the wood considerably. I've seen veneer sheet turn from light gold to deep golden brown, and experts usually warn that avodire veneer should never be exposed to sunlight.

Experts recommend covering veneer to protect it from light damage.

GRAIN: straight, wavy, or irregularly interlocked, has an attractive mottled or wavy figure if quartered, and otherwise frequently has an attractive wavy grain pattern.

My own experience has always been that it has interlocked grain, and the veneer can have the a really stunning wavy pattern that looks exactly like the top of a field of golden wheat in a mild wind. This effect is so strong that it creates what amounts to an optical illusion; your eyes will tell you that a piece has a rippled surface even though your fingers will tell you that it is smooth as glass.

TEXTURE: moderately fine, it has a deep natural luster and has been compared to other fine furniture woods, specifically satinwood and mahogany.

PROPERTIES / WORKABILITY: Medium density, saws well and works easily with hand and machine tools. For planing with interlocked grain, experts recommend a cutting angle of 15 to 20 degrees to avoid tearing. Pre-drill for nail and screw joints. good gluing and veneering properties

DURABILITY: nondurable and extremely resistant to preservative treatments; sapwood permeable. Reported to be moderately resistant to termite attack.

FINISH: finishes well with a variety of finishes.

STABILITY: Movement in service is rated as small.

BENDING: one report said poor steam bending classification, one said medium bending properties


SOURCES: West Africa, from Sierra Leone to the Congo region and Angola; most common in the eastern region of the Ivory Coast, scattered elsewhere. Found near streams and lakes. also grows in Cameroon, Gabon, and Zaire.

USES: marquetry, fine furniture, fine joinery, decorative veneers, cabinetwork, paneling. The “fancy” figured wood is sliced into veneer and used for a variety of high-end applications around the world. Avodiré veneer is used in cabinetry, furniture, wall paneling and other architectural woodworking installations, doors and marquetry. It is especially popular for use in store fixtures, as well as luxury interiors. The wood is also popular as an accent wood.

TREE: Average height is 115 feet with irregular bole clear to 50 feet, trunk diameter 2 to 3 ft.

WEIGHT: averages about 34 pounds per cubic foot, with a specific gravity of .48 to .55.

DRYING: Avodiré dries fairly rapidly, but experts recommend care in drying to avoid its tendency to warp, check and cup. Existing end checks are liable to extend.

AVAILABILITY: readily available from exotic wood vendors.

COST: moderate --- $7 to $10 per BF

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Dermatitis, nosebleeding, and other symptoms reported in woodworkers.

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quartered material tends to stain unevenly but “normally can be brought to a very good finish.”

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Cam Gantz, sales manager for Interwood Forest Products Inc., Shelbyville, KY, said his company carries avodiré, but it is not as widely used as other veneers like anigre or sapele. “We might suggest avodiré as an alternative to quartered figured anigre if a designer is looking for a light-colored wood and wants to use something that isn’t commonly used. Our last few calls for avodiré were used for architectural installations — paneling for hotel lobbies. For veneer, it is usually priced in the medium to above-average range for African species.”

Gantz said avodiré can have several different figures, depending on the log and how it is cut. “Avodiré generally has a crossfire figure similar to anigre. It can also have a fiddleback figure or a block mottled figure. Occasionally it has a ropey grain figure, similar to cherry. Designers often look at woods in terms of color and for light woods, avodiré is a good choice.”

Gantz described avodiré as a porous wood, similar to mahogany but light creamy yellow to greenish, grayish gold. “The wood has a natural luster and is satiny in appearance even without finish.”

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Jim Mills, marketing executive for Craig Lumber, Collierville, TN, recently sold avodiré to a client who was using it with movingui veneers. “The two woods are similar and worked well together. The avodiré we sold had a crossfire figure and was a creamy light-colored wood. I like avodiré because it tends to be a very consistent wood in color and is available in good widths. It polishes and stains well and has a natural luster. Avodiré is also being used for boat interiors and paneling and interiors of jets.”