By Jo-Ann Kaiser
By Jo-Ann Kaiser
COMMON NAMES HEIGHT/WEIGHT PROPERTIES Pterocarpus indicus is the botanical name for a tree that has inspired a wide variety of names and has been used in a wide variety of applications. In the United States, the tree is usually called narra and sometimes further delineated as red narra or yellow narra.
Pterocarpus indicus is the botanical name for a tree that has inspired a wide variety of names and has been used in a wide variety of applications. In the United States, the tree is usually called narra and sometimes further delineated as red narra or yellow narra.
The narra that grows in southern and southeastern Asia is called Solomons padauk or Papua New Guinea rosewood. Narra also grows extensively in the Philippines, Borneo, New Guinea, Cagayan, Mindoro, Palawan, Cotabato and the Malay Archipelago. Its Malayan name is angsana. Narra has also been called kiabooco, meaning "twisted wood." When in the burl form, narra's wood is usually referred to as amboyna burl - that name coming from Amboyna Island, another place the trees can be found. "The Fine Hardwoods Selectorama" lists the primary countries of origin for narra as the Dutch East Indies and Philippines.
A Rare Beauty
Its price will vary depending on the dealer and the size of the order, but for comparison's sake, one dealer put the price into perspective. "Amboyna burl would likely sell for $15 a square foot, while elm burl or ash burl might sell for $2 a square foot."
Chris Goff, owner of Goff and Goff Lumber Inc., in Quarryville, PA, says he has carried narra for about eight years, buying the wood in lumber form. Goff says that most of what he sells is used for accent in specialty items such as jewelry boxes. The narra he sells is usually light colored off-white to tan. Quarter-sawn narra has a "lot of figure," and is priced comparably to the low-end rosewoods, according to Goff.
The wood varies from light brown with red markings to blood-red with black markings. The sapwood is about 50mm wide and light in color, according to Timbers of the World.
Ask the Experts
Narra is described in Timbers of the World as being "fairly easy to work, but some care is required in planing quarter-sawn material as the irregular grain tends to pick up." The wood dries well with little shrinkage. Care is recommended to avoid surface checking when using expensive veneers.
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