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Species – Wenge

Species Information - Wenge

Species Information

Wenge (or Millettia laurentil) is a legume tree from Africa, which can be find in various countries, including Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Gabon (among others). There are about 40 various species of Milletia laurentil, most of them just vines or shrubs. The tree, however, can grow to heights of 90 feet.

Millettia laurentil is actually on the IUCN Red List, listed as endangered. The IUCN Red List (of Treated Species) was created in 1964, and is the world’s main authority on the conservation status of species. Wenge made it on the list primarily because of the destruction of its habitat and over-exploitation for timber.

The timber from Millettia laurentil (Wenge) is a dark-colored wood that is so distinct that it’s often standardizes as “wenge” color in many systems.

Wenge features a strong partridge wood pattern. It’s a heavy wood that’s extremely hard, making it quite suitable for flooring and staircases. However, musical instruments are made from Wenge as well. Alembic Guitars uses Wenge, as does Mosrite and Ibanez. However, generally Wenge is not used in acoustic guitars, because the wood’s porosity will dampen sound waves.

Wenge’s dimensional stability makes it a highly sought-after wood for high-end wood canes. It’s also used to make archery bows as well as rails or pin blocks on hammered dulcimers.

As with many other exotic woods, Wenge is often used because of its color and dramatic appearance.

Scientific Names

The scientific name for Wenge is Millettia laurentil.

Origin

Wenge is an African legume tree. It’s specific origin is the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.

Crossover Names

Crossover names for Wenge include:

These names demonstrate the many nations in which Wenge is found.

Janka Rating

The hardness of Wenge is 1,930.

Wenge Janka Scale Rating 1,930

*The Janka rating measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. Click Here for more info.

Appearance

The heartwood of Wenge is very dark drown and contains black streaks. The wood often times becomes nearly black after wood finished is applied. On the quartersawn surface there are fine, pencil-thin tan lines. The grain of Wenge is straight, with a very coarse texture and low natural luster.

The orientation of the grain is important to consider when presenting Wenge at its best.

Workability

Wenge can be very difficult to work with on both hand and machine tools. It will blunt tool edges and it sands unevenly due to differences in density between light and dark areas.

The dust produced during sanding or cutting can cause dermatitis that resembles poison ivy. It can also cause respiratory problems and drowsiness. Splinters are septic. You should take great care when handling unfinished Wenge wood with your bare hands, because these wood slivers tend to fester.

CLICK HERE to view all of our Wenge hardwood flooring.

Click below for a detailed discription of the different species of hardwood.

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