African Blackwood


Common Names
African blackwood, mpingo (Swahili), grenadilla
Scientific Name
Dalbergia melanoxylon
Dry savanna regions of central and southern Africa
Often completely black, with little or no discernible grain. Occasionally slightly lighter, with a dark brown or purplish hue. The pale yellow sapwood is usually very thin, and is clearly demarcated from the darker heartwood. Grain is typically straight; fine, even texture and good natural luster.
Avg. Dried Weight
79 lbs/ft3 (1,270 kg/m3)
Janka Hardness
3670 lbf
Modulus of Rupture
30,970 lbf/in2(213.6 MPa)
Elastic Modulus
2,603,000 lbf/in2(17.95 GPa)
Crushing Strength
10,570 lbf/in2(72.9 MPa)
Radial: 2.9%, Tangential: 4.8%
Heartwood is rated as very durable in regards to decay resistance, though only moderately resistant to insects/borers. The lighter colored sapwood is commonly attacked by powder-post beetles and other borers.
Very difficult to work with hand or machine tools, with an extreme blunting effect on cutters. African blackwood is most often used in turned objects, where it is considered to be among the very finest of all turning woods—capable of holding threads and other intricate details well. When made into clarinet or oboe bodies, the wood is typically processed on metal-working equipment, giving it a reputation as being metal-like in some of its working properties.

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