Wood of the Month:
Movingui Offers Lustrous Gold Tones and Interesting Figures

By Jo-Ann Kaiser

Distemonanthus benthamianus of the Family Leguminosae.

Movingui, ayan, African satinwood, Nigerian satinwood, barre, ayanran, bonsamdua, eyen, ogueminia, okpe.

This tree grows to heights of 90 to 125 feet with a diameter of 21 1/2 to 41 1/2 feet and a straight, cylindrical bole. Weight varies from 37 to 48 pounds per cubic foot with an average seasoned weight of 42 pounds per cubic foot and specific gravity of 0.68.

Movingui requires slow drying to avoid checking. The U.S. Forest Service recommends a kiln schedule of T6-D4 for 4/4 stock and T3-D3 for 8/4. Movingui has good dimensional stability when dried and works easily with most tools, but some material has a silica content that can dull cutting tools. Lighter material generally has less silica and can be easier to work than darker wood. Movingui glues well with predrilling needed for screws and nails. Gum buildup on saws is a possibility. Movingui needs to be filled well when finishing for best results. It polishes and stains well and can be painted satisfactorily.

Movingui or ayan, as it is sometimes called, is a hardwood from tropical West Africa. Its range extends from the Ivory Coast to Nigeria, Gabon and Zaire.

The wood from this tree has many utilitarian uses in the countries where it grows because of its strength, resilience and moderate durability. Movingui generally resists termites. Its uses include road and railway construction, interior joinery, flooring, parquet, doors, window frames and sills. It is a popular choice for residential as well as gym floors because it stands up well to heavy use.

An Attractive Figured Veneer
Movingui has earned the commercial name of Nigerian satinwood from the highly attractive veneer it yields. It has high-end uses in furniture, paneling, cabinetmaking and specialty items.

Selected logs are sliced to produce veneers featuring a figure that is reminiscent of satinwood. The grain can be interlocked and sometimes wavy, which accounts for the variety of attractive figures movingui yields - among them are mottled and striped figures.

The wood is fine textured with a natural luster, with colors ranging from pale yellow to a deeper golden color, sometimes with dark streaks. Movingui has a broad weight range (37 to 48 pounds per cubic foot) and the heavier wood is reported to be darker in color than the lighter material. The sapwood and heartwood are not clearly demarcated but the heartwood darkens from golden yellow to orange-brown.

Rose and Burgundy
Jim Kirby, owner of Sandy Pond Hardwoods Inc. in Quarryville, PA, has used movingui veneer in a couple of projects, among them jewelry boxes. "Movingui is not a wood we routinely carry, but we purchased some veneer to make specialty items. The material we bought was highly figured and had been dyed a shimmery rose to pink shade."

Sam Parisette, general manager of Herzog Veneers in High Point, NC, says his company carries movingui veneer. Most of what they sell is aniline dyed. Clients include furniture and store fixture manufacturers, Parisette says. For movingui, popular colors are rose and burgundy.

He says figured movingui is popular with clients looking for accent woods with high luster. He puts figured movingui veneer in a category with satinwood and avodire. Satinwood is the most expensive of the three and movingui is next. "Movingui is a reasonable substitute for satinwood because it is not as expensive but gives a stunning look. Satinwood is prized for its iridescence and you get that with movingui as well."

Machining Considerations
Veneers, A Fritz Kohl Handbook from Interwood Forest Products Inc. describes movingui as similar to citron wood and West and East Indian satinwood. The handbook says that "light logs can be machined as a general rule without any great difficulty. The dark wood has a higher silicate content and as a result dulls tools quickly." Some sources say that the silica content of movingui can be as high as 1.3 percent.

William Lincoln, in his book World Woods in Color, describes movingui as a "hard wood with heavy density and a moderate wood bending classification, medium bending strength, high crushing strength, and low stiffness and resistance to shock loads."

Lincoln and other experts recommend care while drying. Movingui should not be "left unprotected against sunlight or strong winds to avoid the risk of twisting or checking." He adds the wood "is not suitable for use in kitchens or laundries because the yellow dye deposits in the pores are soluble in water and can cause staining."

Jim Mills, senior marketing executive with Craig Lumber in Colliersville, TN, says his company used to carry logs of movingui and will stock it if a customer requests it. However, he notes, "We filled a large millwork order with avodire for a customer who originally requested movingui." The two woods are similar, Mills says, but avodire is lighter colored than movingui. "The client used the solid avodire in a job, matching it with movingui veneer and was very happy with the results," Mills says.


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