Makore (Tieghemella heckelii) yields a beautifully grained and sometimes highly figured wood from trees that grow in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the

Ivory Coast, Ghana and Liberia. A closely related species, Tieghemella africana, grows in the same area and yields a wood that goes by the commercial name douka.

The wood ranges from light, pink-red to deep red or reddish brown. The sapwood is clearly demarcated and is much lighter in color. Makore is sold around the world as lumber (wide leaves and boards) and veneer.

Veneer producers say the wood should be cut from the log when hot, and they actually cook the logs or flitches in hot water for as long as three days before slicing it into veneer. (Experts at veneer mills have such secret recipes for each species.)

The wood is said to have a good consistency, and designers have described it as luminescent and easy to work.

Some architects especially like that makore is available in long lengths (up to 14 feet) and wide widths. It’s not unusual to find makore logs that yield 35,000 to 75,000 square feet of veneer, say experts, allowing for production of 5 foot by 12 foot panels.

Custom Projects
Makore is used in cabinetry, high-end joinery, interior fittings, laboratory benches, flooring and turnery. It can be used in boatbuilding and marine plywood, as well.

Figured makore veneer has been used in furniture including beds, nightstands, dressers, armoires and buffets, as well as on doors and drawer fronts.

Important Tips
For some figured makore, the veneer has to be treated differently. If the material has a curly figure, the moisture in the glue seems to want to make it wrinkle unless it is clamped fairly quickly and then left in the vacuum press longer.

Makore may stain blue if the material comes in contact with iron when damp. Woodworkers also need to be aware that the wood’s fine dust can cause dermatitis and irritate nasal passages and airways.

Article excerpted from Wood of the Month archives.

Tieghemella heckelii and closely related species
Tieghemella africana of the Family Sapotaceae
Makore, baku, abaku, agamokwe, douka, dumori.
Trees grow to heights of 180 to 200 feet with
trunk diameters of 4 to 10 feet. Average weight
is 39 pounds per cubic foot with a specific gravity
of 0.62.
Wood has a high silica content, which can cause
blunting. Wood dries at a slow-to-moderate rate.
Experts suggest slow, careful seasoning, or drying,
to prevent problems. A kiln schedule of T10-D4S
for 4/4 stock and T8-D3S for 8/4 stock is
recommended. There is small movement in service.
The material works well with both hand and
power tools. The material finishes and takes
screws and nails well. It has good gluing properties
and heartwood is durable and extremely resistant
to preservative treatments. 

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