Anigre has long been a popular wood in the United States, both in lumber and veneer form. Anigre is a tall tropical hardwood, found in West and East Africa in Guinea, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola and Zaire.
Anigre's heartwood varies from a yellowish white to a pale brown, sometimes with a pinkish hue or a red-grey color. The heartwood and sapwood are not clearly demarcated, and the heartwood darkens slightly after exposure. Seasoning the wood is fairly straightforward. Experts recommend drying cut lumber as soon as possible after cutting to prevent problems with blue stain.
Ben Clift, co-owner of Renaissance Specialty Veneer Products (R.S.V.P.), sells both figured and plain anigre at his sites in Columbus, IN, and Los Angeles, CA. "Figured is the more expensive veneer. Anigre, especially figured anigre, has been used regularly for many years as an architectural wood. There's a strong demand for the higher quality figured anigre logs, and the logs are getting harder and harder to find," he says.
Clift says the market demand is highest for strong figure and good color. "There's more competition for the logs when they are available. Plain anigre is popular, too, and used more because it is readily available. Both are light-colored woods that accept a stain well. With anigre, you can adjust the color and tone of the wood easier than with a darker wood."
Clift said plain anigre is used for furniture and contract furnishings. "The logs yield large sequences of consistent-type wood, so if you are making a lot of furniture, you can get a long run of similar color."
Anigre is sometimes described as a replacement for cherry. Clift explains that most plain anigre is produced quartered. "Because it is quartered, you can put a cherry stain on it and get wide, quartered veneer that looks like cherry quarters when it is finished," he says.
"The advantage is the widths available. Cherry trees don't grow to the size of anigre trees. Cherry-stained anigre is good for people who want to do elevations and sizes that they just can't get with cherry, which would typically give them 4- to 6-inch-wide quarters." Clift says cherry also has a shimmer in the grain that is not there with anigre.
Blue stain is widely cited as a problem with anigre. Clift thinks it is more a manufacturing problem, a reaction between the juice in the veneer and the metal machinery. "Many species are prone to blue stain. By using the right equipment and monitoring production, you can avoid blue stain."
According to Chris Groff of Groff and Groff Lumber Inc., Quarryville, PA, who sells anigre lumber used for architectural millwork, furniture and cabinetry, "Figured anigre comes in a fiddleback and a few other figures, from curly to quilted."
Clift describes the figures of anigre as fiddleback, broken fiddleback and block mottle figure with varying degrees of each. "The more prized of the figures is a true, heavy fiddleback," he believes. "That's popular for architectural uses, such as paneling, custom furniture, reception desks and executive furniture."
Like many species, anigre has a wide range of names. "In the United States, we most often refer to it as anigre, while Europeans probably favor the term anegre." The spelling of anegre varies, from agnegre to aningre to aningeria, aniegre and more. In Nigeria, the wood is called landosan, and, in Angola, it is known as mukali and kali. In Kenya, it is called mukangu and muna. Additional names include osan and mutoke landojan, m'bout, osan, Tanganyika nuss, tutu and n'kali.
In addition to being a cherry substitute, anigre is occasionally used as an alternate for walnut sapwood in Europe.
"Anigre has been in vogue for a long time as one of the lighter woods," Clift says. "We are seeing a shift towards darker woods like walnut, but I think there always will be a demand for highly figured anigre. It's a wood that has been a designer favorite and that's expanded to the public. Anigre, as a light wood, also looks great teamed with a darker wood. I think anigre will be specified as long as good logs are available."
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