Wenge wood is a rare wood type originating from Central Africa, the trees have been known to grow between 18-27 meters with a metre of trunk diameter. Wenge timber is known around the world mostly for its durability and resistance to termite infestations. Currently Wenge wood can only be found at specialist wood suppliers where it has been ethically sourced from FSC approved sites.
Hardwood or softwood
Wenge wood is a tropical hardwood, a hardwood is a wood that comes from flowering plants, usually found in broad-leaved temperature and tropical forests from deciduous trees, meaning they lose their leaves seasonally. Due to the durability, hardwoods are suitable for uses including construction, joinery and flooring. Softwood however is from coniferous or evergreen trees, it tends to be more flexible and lightweight than most hardwoods making it good for interior mouldings.
Examples of hardwood: Wenge, Oak, Ash, Walnut, Maple
Examples of softwood: Pine, Cedar, Redwood, Larch
It is good to compare hardwood and softwood for characteristics depending on your project.
Wenge timber uses
- Interior and exterior projects
- Indoor & outdoor furniture
- Flooring, decking & panelling
- Heavy construction
- Tool handles
- Musical instruments e.g. guitar
Benefits of Wenge timber
Colour- The wood has a visually appealing appearance consisting of a medium brown with redish/yellowish hues with just off black streaks
Insecticidal properties – Wenge timber has been identified as having some insecticidal features, meaning that it could be less likely to suffer from insect attacks as opposed to other tropical hardwoods. Wenge also has a resistance to fungi adding to its durability. that said, it can also depend on the weather and the area you are living. For instance, you stay somewhere in Raleigh where termite infestation is common. In that case, you might need to take extra care of the wooden items in the house including the ones made with wenge timber. Ideally, it would be better to look for services that provide termite control in Raleigh and get your house free from those pesky insects. That being said, regularly checking up on wooden items in the house can be a good idea.
Strength – Wenge timber is known for its strong characteristics, and good resistance to bending and shock.
Working with Wenge timber
Gluing – Wenge wood can be resinous meaning that surfaces should be prepped and cleaned with a solvent before gluing to avoid problems.
Machinery – Due to the density of the wood, it can be hard to utilise machines on and the heat created will quickly dull tools causing difficulty
Splinters – Splinters from Wenge timber can take longer to heal than other splinters, similarly they are also more likely to become infected and go septic so care should be taken when working with Wenge.
Allergies/toxicity – Severe allergic reactions to Wenge wood are uncommon however care must be taken as the dust has been known to cause irritation to skin and eyes as well as affects to the central nervous system.