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 HOME WOOD LIBRARY Gaboon: Black Ebony Wood

Black Gaboon Ebony Wood
(diospyros crassiflora)

Gaboon ebony wood is an exotic wood probably most known for its use as fingerboards and keys for various musical instruments. In second place ebony wood, in its various species is the wood of choice for many decorative turners, both the commercial pool cue turner and you & I doing it in the basement. Its great for pens, bottle stoppers, knife handles and jewelry boxes.

Other Names: African Ebony, Cameroon, Nigerian Ebony

The Tree:
Ebony is the Greek word for "fruit of the gods". Historically drinking goblets were made from its wood, as they believed it was an antidote for poison, and its use would ward off their enemy's evil intent. This may be the origin for many that think today, that a wooden wand made of gaboon ebony has magical powers.

There are 100's of types of ebony worldwide, but most are only shrubs, and only one found in N. America .. the persimmon tree. This species know for it's use in the manufacture of golf clubs.

The trees today are few and far between, and of a much smaller size then 20 year ago, ... found on the Asian, Indian and African continent. They can grow to 50' in height & 1 1/2' around, but you're talking about a tree over 100 years old. The Gaboon Ebony wood can be also referred to as "African Ebony" and does infact come predominately from Africa.

Wood Description:
Gaboon ebony wood is the most pure black of the lot, but can have occasional chocolate brown seams, especially in the middle of larger chunks. You can pay significantly more for wood that is guaranteed to be pure black throughout. The sap wood is a light gray offering extreme contrasts in colour that can add dramatic flare to small turning projects like pens and bottle stoppers.

Today it is getting more difficult to get the pure black ebonys of the world, and instrument makers are sometimes resorting to dying the wood to improve colour consistency, or finding synthetic substitutes.

Weight:approximately 65+ lbs per cubic foot

The wood is very dense thus no fillers are necessary. It finishes to a beautiful sheen, with limited effort... that being said I do have one customer that inserts ebony into a vacuum chamber to stabilize it in all his knife making adventures.

Must have sharp tools, dulling will occur, but cuts easily with a bandsaw and turns beautifully on a lathe. Sanding works quite well with power tools, but next to impossible with hand sanding (forget the cheap sandpaper, it won't touch it, shop at your local automotive supplier). Burning can happen if you exert too much pressure on a dull sanding belt, so start with a fresh one.

If you are using it as an inlay with other open pored woods, you do have to be a bit careful because the fine dust can accumulate in the open grain and alter the colour of the contrasting wood... make sure you use a compressor and blow off the surface well, prior to finishing ... rub with a solvent first to check...

I've found it an easy wood to glue, and the gaboon ebony wood takes a wonderful finish.

Fine Dust can be an irritant so WEAR a mask!

A Piece of Canadian History:
The Usher of the Black Rod is a messenger of the Queen of England or Her Representative, that informs Members of the Canadian House of Commons that they are summoned to the Senate to hear the Speech from the Throne that opens every session of Parliament. The title of this position comes from the black ebony stick carried by the Black Rod, which is used to knock on the doors to gain admission to the House of Commons Chamber.

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theWoodbox.com Jan 2007