By Jo-Ann Kaiser
By Jo-Ann Kaiser
COMMON NAMES HEIGHT/WEIGHT PROPERTIES Afzelia is a fine wood on its own, but it is also one of those woods better known because of its similarity to other species. Afzelia offers durability and stability to a degree that invokes comparisons to teak. Its hardness is said to equal that of oak and in looks it resembles iroko.
Afzelia is a fine wood on its own, but it is also one of those woods better known because of its similarity to other species. Afzelia offers durability and stability to a degree that invokes comparisons to teak. Its hardness is said to equal that of oak and in looks it resembles iroko.
Four species of Afzelia are commercially important: Afzelia africana, Afzelia bipindensis, Afzelia pachyloba and Afzelia quanzensis. The trees grow in West, Central and East Africa. Afzelia species thrive in varied conditions, from dense evergreen forests to savanna and coastal forests.
Durability a Key
Uses for afzelia include interior and exterior joinery, heavy construction, doors, windows, staircases, flooring, ship's rails, countertops, garden furniture, residential and contract furniture. The wood resists acid and is used for laboratory equipment, chemical containers, and vats. The sapwood is susceptible to powder post beetle infestation, but the heartwood is considered extremely durable and stable, with natural termite and teredo (shipworm) resistance. This natural resistance makes it a popular choice for heavy construction uses.
Afzelia species are sometimes sliced for decorative veneer. Jim Dumas of Certainly Wood in East Aurora, NY, has received a few calls for the veneer and has supplied it, but it is far from one of his big sellers. "We sold 20,000 square board feet of afzelia veneer to a client who used it for residential doors among other things," said Dumas.
Quality Flooring Source
Afzelia species go by a long list of names. In the United States, the most common commercial names are afzelia and doussie. In Nigeria, it might be called lingue while in the Ivory Coast it goes by papao. In Zaire the wood is known as bolengu but in Gabon it is called mu mangala and chamfuta in Mozambique. The tree is sometimes called counterwood, probably because that's one of its common uses.
The texture of the wood is moderate to coarse with a grain that ranges from straight to interlocked. Sawing and machining can be difficult because the material has a rapid dulling effect to cutting edges. This high resistance to cutting can be mitigated by reducing the cutting angle, say experts.
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