At the bottom of the "my samples" section of this page, just above the "web pics" section, there is a comparison of this wood with wenge, which it closely resembles.
my samples: (colors are accurate throughout)
1) Panga panga, which is an African wood, is often sold in the US as partridgewood, but that name is more appropriately applied to a South American wood, Andira inermis. Previously I had listed all of the woods on this page as partridgewood, but I have come to understand my error, which I believe arose partly because partridgewood IS another common name for Millettia stuhlmannii but to avoid confusion, knowledgeable vendors reprsent Millettia stuhlmannii as panga panga and use partridgewood for Andira inermis.
2) There is an obvious similarity of appearance between this wood and wenge, BUT there is a scale difference. If you expand panga panga grain pics by about a factor of 5, the face grain will look just like wenge, but on the same scales, panga panga has a much tighter grain patter on flat cut surfaces. This is little weird, since the actual growth ring sizes seem comparable, and side grains don't look all that difference. I have illustrated that on this page. click here: comparison with wenge
I had never knowingly seen this wood before, but when Keith Weaver very kindly send along a sample, he also suggested, I belived correctly, that a wood I had posted as mystery wood 109 was panga panga (which he and I were both calling partridgewood at the time). I have more recently purchased quite a few planks of panga panga (most of which were sold to me as partridgewood / Millettia stuhlmannii) so now have many good pics of it.
both sides and end grain of the piece Keith contributed. You can't tell it at all from these pics, but the surface in the 2nd pic has been sanded with 100-grit on the left side and fine-sanded with 220 grit on the right side. In reality, the right side shows up as clearly darker and shinier than the left side --- this is a dense wood and takes a high natural gloss when fine sanded. You can kind of get a hint of this by virtue of the flashbulb reflection cutting off abruptly in the middle where the sanding changes. Both levels of enlargement are given. In the pic directly below, I put the camera at an angle and you can see just a little better what I'm talking about.
angled shot showing the two sides with different levels of sanding
end grain closeups of both ends of the plank directly above --- color is slightly too dark
a face grain closeup of the piece directly above, in an area that emphasizes the similarity to wenge --- note, however, that a similarly figured area of a wenge plank would likely be 3 to 5 times bigger than this. This wood has a SIMILAR grain to wenge, but much tighter.
two edge grain closeups of the piece direclty above
Ross Ward, who also sent along a pic of a table he built from the wood (see below) generously donated these samples, and he did have the name as panga pange. Thanks Ross.
Both sides of a small end-grain section cut from a plank. If you compare this to the web pic of end grain on the wenge site, you'll see a very close similarity. Both of these pics have faint red tinge in them that is not in the wood --- see the closeup below for a more correct color.
closeup of the piece directly above
both sides of a sample plank of panga panga / Milletia stuhlmannii --- 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 labled side is raw and thus has a slightly fuzzy look but the 2nd side is sanded down to 240 grit and is thus darker and shows the face grain details better.
end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above
both sides of a sample plank of panga panga / Milletia stuhlmannii --- 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
two planks and a small cutoff secton of another one. The upper plank is rift cut and the lower one is flat cut. The first pic shows the freshly sanded face of each and the second pic shows the side with an untouched patina (except for the small strip on the bottom which I did not turn over for the 2nd pic). If you click on each and then put the two pages side by side, you'll see that there is a substantial lightening of the color when the sanding takes off the patina.
end grain of the two planks
end grain closeups of the two planks directly above
a set of planks with patina --- color is too light; the actual wood is definitely darker, like the planks in the first set of pics above (the ones with two planks and a strip).
plank --- color correction removed just a shade too much of the red tint that is actually present in the wood.
plank and closeup
4 planks; the two upper are noticibly lighter in color and also noticibly lighter in weight than the two lower.
3 planks --- the middle one is like the lower 2 in the pic directly above and the two on each side of it are like the upper two in the pic directly above.
plank and end grain --- notice how much darker this piece is than the one below; both are shown with accurate color. This piece is also noticibly heavier than the one below.
four planks, with the upper two being of the somewhat heavier and darker variety
plank and end grain --- the side grain is showing, not the face grain. See below. Although there is a dark patina on the face grain of piece, it is otherwise so light in color that I was sure at first that it was not panga panga, but a close examination of the grain (especially the end grain) convinced me that it is (and the vendor who sold it to me is quite reliable, although he did have this listed as partridgewood).
face grain and face grain closeup of the same piece as above
WENGE VS panga panga
There appear to be at least three easily distinguishable varieties of panga panga. At the top of this page, there are samples of a form that is extremely dense and very fine-grained. Just above here are two other types which more closely resemble wenge, but which are fairly easily distinguishable from it. In the pics directly below, I show a piece of wenge with the 2nd and 3rd types of panga panga. The first type would never be confused with wenge, although if you saw a picture of it with no reference scale you might well think it was wenge since its appearance is almost exactly that of wenge but reduced by about a scale factor of 5. The other 2 types, shown below (and with numerous pieces directly above here) are less dense but the face grain is still fairly easy to distinguish from wenge.
The side grain and end grain are almost impossible to distinguish, but the face grain makes it clear that even though the growth rings appear to be spaced more or less the same in both the wenge and the 2 panga panga pieces, the resulting face grain appearance is clearly different, with the wenge having a noticbly less tight grain pattern.
In each of these pics (face grain, end grain, side grain), the top piece is wenge, the middle piece is light-weight, light-colored panga panga, and the lower piece is darker and heavier panga panga:
face grain and end grain
side grain; note that I made a mistake in that I had intended to get a shot of the side that shows all three as a quartersawn surface but instead I shot the side where the middle piece has a rift cut surface.
all 3 of these sets of images show wenge on top and then 2 different types of panga panga below it --- see paragraph above the pics for a discussion. Note that both the upper piece (partridgewood) and the lower piece (panga panga) have upper surfaces that are quite a well angled flat cut and yet the upper piece shows a face grain that is significantly more coarse looking than the lower piece. This demonstrates my contention that the face grain of panga panga looks almost exactly like wenge but only if you blow it up by about a factor of 5.
both sides of a slab --- I believe these pics were sent to me in an email but I have lost all track of it.
plank listed as partridgewood, but which I'm sure is Millettia stuhlmannii, not Andira inermis, and which appears to have been bleached.
several planks from the vendor from whom I have bought most of my "type 2" and "type 3" panga panga (which he sells as partridgewood)
a table made by Ross Ward, who uses the correct name (panga panga) for the wood despite my trying, incorrectly, to convince him it should be called partridgewood.
the apparent dark streak on the left side is an artifact of the REST of the table having gotten extra light reflected off of a glass picture frame on the wall next to the table. I assume that the darker color of the table (relative to the samples Ross sent) is due to a finishing agent, although it could be due to the distance of the camera and Ross's not having done color correction. The table is about 10" wide and 22" long
two sections of panga panga, on either side of a piece of padauk, on a laminated bowl. The grain hardly shows up, even on the pic on the left which is fresh off the lathe and particularly not in the pic on the right which is after a coat of natural stain. Both levels of enlargement are available and the grain can be seen pretty clearly in the 2nd enlargement, particularly in the left-hand pic. The base of the bowl is walnut