From the outdoor-friendly Afrormosia, to the vibrant Zebrawood, African hardwoods display diversity in color, figure, as well as uses. Woodworkers will appreciate the extensive list of available exotic hardwoods.
Anigre – Medium to coarse texture; grain usually straight, sometimes wavy; often with a fiddleback, mottled, or bees wing figure. Generally reported to saw and machine well, but some species are silicious and have a blunting effect on cutters.
Bubinga – Fine grained. Hard and heavy. Takes a high lustrous finish. The wood works without difficulty except for gum pockets. Some logs are figured with a wavy, roey grain.
Ebony – Very difficult to dry, but very stable after seasoning. Hard and heavy with a very fine texture. Takes a high glossy finish. Saw dust may irritate some people.
Iroko / African Teak – Since Iroko has good weathering properties, it’s a decent substitute for teak and even shares a similar color range. Medium to coarse texture with an interlocking grain that often produces interesting patterns. Open pores requires filling for a smooth finish. Works pretty easily with both power and hand tools.
Limba – Limba is separated for color and sold as white (without black streaks) or black (with black streaks). The wood is relatively soft and easy to work. Medium coarse texture. Open pores require filling for a smooth surface.
Mahogany African – Its color, texture and grain give it a very close resemblance to classic Honduras Mahogany. Relatively hard and works well aside from the woolly surfaces that sanding produces; highly lustrous and polishes well; very durable wood.
Makore / African Cherry – Usually a fine, straight grain wood, but some logs will have an interlocked grain that produces an attractive mottled figure. The wood glues well but is difficult to work, as the timber contains silica which rapidly dulls the tools.
Movingui – A medium to fine grained wood that often features mottle or bees wing figure. The best figured logs are processed into veneers, and on rare occasion the logs will be sawn into lumber. It’s Janka hardness rating is 1230, nearly identical to red oak.
African Padauk – When freshly cut the wood is bright orange red, becomes reddish brown. Moderately hard and heavy. Medium texture, but with large pores. Saws and planes easily to a very smooth surface.
Pearwood (African) – Featuring an interlocking, yet straight, grain Pearwood is attractive and uniform. The surface often shows some slight figure or shimmer. The wood is extraordinarily stable and fine textured making it good for both machining and hand operations. However, the silica content in the wood dulls cutters and blades faster than other woods.
Poculi – The wood is moderately coarse and hard, but generally easy to work with as far as exotic woods are concerned. The wood has a striking resemblance to zebrawood, but has a more rosy red color.
Sapele – Gorgeous mahogany look-alike with a slightly finer texture than Honduras Mahogany, and a typically interlocked grain. Sapele is also a lustrous wood that works fairly well in all operations – planing, sawing, routing, sanding, etc.
Shedua – Moderately coarse, and interlocked grain that produces striped and, sometimes, curly figure. Also called Ovangkol, often sold for highly figured veneers. Hard, heavy and takes a glass-like finish.
Wenge – Texture is rather coarse; straight grain; hard and heavy. Works fairly well with machine tools but has a high blunting effect on cutting edges. Turns well. Difficult to glue if resinous.
Zebrawood – Zebrawood has a medium to coarse texture and a wavy or interlocked grain pattern. The alternating hard and soft material creates working difficulties, but Zebrawood takes a clear finish without issue.
There are also several shops that you can buy these exotic hardwood African lumber online. Some of the sites that you can buy from are: source woodworking, Cookwoods, Exotic Hardwoods Uk Ltd, Bell Forest Products, Griffin exotic wood, exotic Lumber Inc, among others.