WOOD ID POSTER:
co-created by, and sponsored by, HobbitHouse


240 woods on a poster (24"x36")


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EBONY, GABOON

Diospyros spp.



click here for a discussion of the genus Diospyros

although frequently advertised as "Nigerian" ebony, it is my understanding that "Gaboon" is the more correct term, although some reports say that it's just a matter of giving it a country name, such as Nigeria or Gaboon and that they're all the same "African ebony" or "black ebony".

This is the wood that folks not familiar with wood mean when they say "ebony". It generally has areas of ink black with lighter streaks. Only a small percentage of logs produce the highest quality jet black ebony and most contain 50-70% sapwood with deep heart checks and voids. It's a very hard wood and costly to produce, which makes it a rare species to obtain. It is moderately difficult to work with some tendancy to chip out and split but it glues satisfactorily, turns extremely well and takes a polish like glass. See the "Fact Sheet" for more details.



my samples:


a couple of planks. The one on top has been sanded.


end grain and end grain closeup of the upper plank directly above. The striations are all sanding marks, not rays in the wood.


plank about 2 feet long photographed at a woodworking store


small plank and small pieces cut from a 1/8" thick sheet


turning stick and end grain closeup. Even at the 2nd enlargement you don't really see any grain pattern, just a really well-focused shot of lots of sanding scratches, both straight and orbital.


both sides of a sample plank of black ebony / Diospyros crassiflora --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The presence of more orange on the labled side is due to the fact that that side is raw whereas the unlabled side has been sanded down to 240 grit and has lost some of its patina. The vendor of this sample calls it "bird's eye" figure which is just silly. It is mottled, in the English language meaning of that term, not the woodworking meaning of that term, but that certainly does not make it "bird's eye".


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of curly Nigerian ebony / Diospyros crassiflora --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The curl is light and difficult to make out in these pics but it is definitely there. The labled side is raw but the unlabled side has been sanded down to 400 grit


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Cameroun ebony / Diospyros spp. --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. If this was harvested in Cameroun as the vendor claims, then it is most likely Diospyros crassiflora


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Indian ebony / Diospyros ebenum --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The unlabled side of this piece has been sanded down to 400 grit and is smooth as glass.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Madagascar ebony / Diospyros perrierii --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


veneer --- farily rare, as the tree is small and does not lend itself to veneer production. LATER: Uh, well, since the time that I made that statement I have discovered that the veneer is less rare than I had thought.

NOTE: all of the following samples are veneer from the same flitch and I had the devil's own time getting the color correct. I finally had to settle on a correction process that made the black as good as I could get it (not quite perfect, but close) but that washed out the orange color in the sapwood and made the white background and ruler look very gray. I've added one shot of the sapwood to show it correctly.


these two are the ones in the sapwood shot directly below


because the sapwood in the rest of these pics is washed out, I've taken this shot and corrected for the sapwood color without regard to the heartwood color. The sapwood is shown in a very accurate representation of the orange color, but the heartwood is too red, which is why I could not use this correction scheme for the rest of the pics. Also this pic shows the worm holes that were fairly prevalent in the sapwood (but not the heartwood) of most of this flitch.


more veneer from the same flitch --- very little of this flitch was pure black: most of it had a distinctly visible grain. The sapwood is washed out and not shown as the true orange it really is: see the sapwood pic above this set.



web pics:


plank with wet and dry sections


log --- according to the description that accompanied this, the yellowish color of the sapwood is accurate. It wasn't stated, but I assume the bark has been stipped off.


logs without bark and with the ends sealed


planks


misc small planks


scales


planks and turning stock listed as ebony / Diospyros crassiflora


planks listed as West African ebony / Diospyros crassiflora


plank listed as Diospyros dendo


plank listed as Madagascar (not to be confused with macassar) ebony but which might in fact be incorrectly labled since it looks a lot like macassar ebony


turning stock


veneer


veneer sheet closeups with both levels of enlargement



these are from the BogusColorVendor so I assumed that the orange is bogus but I've now seen other vendors showing exactly the same color, so I guess it's real even though I've found no reference in the literature to orange streaks, just white streaks. Further note: now that I have some samples of my own from a similar flitch (see pics at the top of this page) I can see that the orange sapwood is almost correct, with just a touch too much red. The BogusColorVendor actually got something right for a rare change.


plank


plank and closeup


turning squares


planks







two views of a bowl


bowl by Steve Earis


bowl by Bryan Nelson (NelsonWood). Bryan fine-polishes his bowls with 1200 or even higher grit sandpaper while they are spinning at high speed on the lathe and then finishes them there with a friction polish of his own devising, thus achieving a shine and color vibrancy that is beautiful to behold.