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Millettia laurentii

A somewhat splintery, hard, porous African hardwood. The veneer tends to be somewhat fragile and will split easily along the grain, especially when quartersawn.

There is an obvious similarity of appearance between wenge and panga panga, and I have created a small page to discuss the differences, to the extent that one can see diferences. It is here: wenge vs panga panga

my samples:

both sides of a sample plank of wenge / Millettia laurentii --- 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 vendor listed this as quartersawn but it seems to me to be clearly rift cut (but with a face grain that is pretty much indistinguishable from true quartersawn).

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

plank and closeup --- I selected this piece because of the classic flat cut figure. Both levels of enlargement are present, so you can see how relatively grainy this wood is.

both edges of a plank where one edge is freshly cut and exhibits the light color that sometimes happens when the wood is freshly cut. This will darken over time until the light colored edge looks just like the dark colored edge.

closeup of the freshly cut surface shown directly above

both sides of a small piece --- HUGE enlargments are present for both these and the pic directly below and there is a slight red tint in all these pics that is not in the wood

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

two end grain shots of a smaller piece cut from the plank shown directly above. This is from the other side and the lighter areas are wider than the darker areas on this side, so the plank appears considerably lighter than the pics above. The vertical lighter stripes visible in the enlargements, particularly of the left pic, are sanding marks, not part of the grain. There is a reddish tint in these pics that is not in the wood.

two small quartersawn planks cut from the same board and shown here with the end grain of each. The end grain pics have been lightened just a little too much as I did the color correction (they come out almost black right out of the camera). The face-on pics are more accurate in color.

end grain closeup of one of the pieces directly above

small piece, end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE. I did this one just to get another end grain update on wenge. The pores are mostly clogged with sawdust. HUGE enlargements are present.

small piece, end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE. I did this one just to get another end grain update on wenge. The pores are mostly clogged with sawdust. HUGE enlargements are present. The white vertical lines are sanding scratches filled with sawdust. After mistakenly leaving these deep coarse-grit scratches, I did the rest of the end grain update perfectly, so the fine grain details show up clearly.

plank and end grain; there is a greenish tint in these pics that is not in the wood

end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above --- this seems to be a rare case where the update doesn't show the fine grain detail any better than I had already captured but the darker color does show that the update polished the wood.

rift cut slab --- as you can see from the pics below, it's pretty much perfectly rift cut, so both face and side look like quartersawn surfaces. There is just a touch too much red in all 3 pics

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

two end sections cut from the same long plank

the middle section of the same plank as directly above, and a closeup

two sides of a small side-grain slice taken from the same plank as the samples above.

As you can see from the differences between the first two pieces of quartersawn and the 3rd set, which were flat-cut from the same plank as the quartersawn pieces, wenge is one of those woods where the type of cut and the face you're looking at make a huge difference in the appearance of the wood. All these pieces show up better if you click to enlarge.

a set of small planks

closeup of the plank with flat cut face grain.

closeup of a plank with quartersawn face grain.

some small planks, flat cut

some small planks, flat cut

the reverse side of the upper plank from the set above, showing some sapwood.

a bunch of small pieces from a mixed lot, and a closeup

a pen blank (donated by Jim Glynn --- thanks Jim)

plank shot at a lumber yard

planks shot at a lumber yard

quartersawn veneer --- despite the "fact sheet"s statement that the heartwood is clearly defined, my experience with several different lots of veneer (which is the only place I've ever seen the sapwood) is that it is NOT sharply demarcated. Although the shading from heartwood to sapwood does not take more than a half-inch or so, there are many other woods where the line between the two is just that --- a line, with no shading at all, and that is not the case with the wenge I've seen. There is a red tint to this pic that is not in the wood. I DO see in some of the web pics below that the demarcation seems a bit sharper than on the veneer I've seen but it is still now a sharp line as it is in some woods.

quartersawn veneer with carefully corrected color --- although it sounds like a contradiction in terms, I don't know how to describe the color of these sheets other than to say that they are a very "bright black" color

two small pieces of flat cut veneer

flat cut veneer sheet and closeup

flat cut veneer sheet and closeup

flat cut veneer sheet and closeup

flat cut veneer sheet and closeup --- the distance pic has too much red in it; the closeup is accurate in color.

quartersawn veneer

quartersawn veneer with ray flakes --- usually, quartersawn wenge veneer is so coarse that it does not show ray flakes but this piece shows them very nicely

wenge veneer pics contributed by Danny Tjan, whom I thank for these and other contributions to the site.

a flooring sample that has been finished in some kind of hard, shiny, finishing agent

the piece directly above, after I sanded off the finish --- in doing the color correction, I inadvertently made this pic just a shade lighter than the actual wood.

web pics:

planks with wet and dry sections; the first was just listed as wenge, the second as wenge / Millettia laurentii

interesting shot of the end grain of a significant portion of a log --- this clearly shows how the color difference between early and late growth is substantial, which partly accounts for the extreme figure usually found in this wood.

slabs --- most of these have an unlikely orangish tint

flat cut planks

quartersawn planks

rift cut plank with excellent color & grain representation

misc planks

planks and a closeup

flat cut bookmatched planks with an unlikely faded color

plank with a ridiculous/impossible purple color (for wenge) which is the kind of nonsense that got me to start this site in the first place.

quartersawn planks with a color that is probably more light brown than the wood really is

bookmatched plank pair

both sides and a closeup of a plank

flat cut planks with accurate representation of grain pattern but the orange color seems excessive --- the wood is probably much more of a uniform dark brown in reality.

I believe these two have been bleached and then stained with cherry or something like that. They certainly do not look like untouched wenge, although the grain pattern looks correct.

clearly wenge but with a hilarious color. I'm pretty sure that there is no set of chemicals that could give wenge this color so this has to be photoshopped

planks with reasonable color

planks with suspect orange tint

flat cut wenge scales

quartersawn wenge scales

turning stock

veneer --- grain shows up much more clearly in the enlargement

veneer with an unlikely golden color

veneer with a very unlikely purple color

flat cut veneer

misc veneer

veneer sheet closeups with both levels of enlargement

web-pics of wood that, if I saw the piece I might think "Gee, that's probably wenge". On the last one, you have to go to the full enlargement to see it clearly and when you do, you'll see that it's similar to my first sample.

misc web-pics

the last pic is of the back side of stitched veneer, showing a common way of putting down a wavy line of a rubbery adhesive

guitar showing excellent use of approximately-bookmatched wenge

bowls --- check out the 2nd enlargement on the 2nd bowl; it REALLY shows wenge grain to an advantage

9" diameter bowl by Steve Earis (with big enlargements available that REALLY show the grain) and the blank from which it was turned