It’s the last day of summer and time for another spotlight on wood! This month we look at the dark beauty, ebony.
WHAT COLOR IS IT?
Black of course! Ebony is known for its deep black color. Although it is not uncommon to have streaks of very dark brown throughout at times (depending on its country of origin, where the tree species vary). However, most people associate ebony with its jet-black color.
WHERE DOES IT ORIGINATE?
Species of ebony include Ceylon ebony, native to southern India and Sri Lanka (where it is protected). Additionally there is Gabon ebony, out of Africa (which is often what we use in our turnings). The Indonesian ebony is one that often is not true black and has multi-color streaks throughout (Wikipedia)
HOW DURABLE IS IT?
Believe it or not ebony is dense enough to sink in water. It is a hardwood. However, it will finish to a smooth appearance because it so dense (as you can see in the photo below of the ebony fountain pen – smooth finish).
HOW ABOUT ALLERGIES?
Ebony is not commonly known to cause allergies, but on occasion some people have felt eye or airway irritation when working with it. As with any wood, extended time breathing in sawdust is inadvisable. Once finished and sealed, these allergies are unlikely to affect you.
WHAT ARE ITS MAIN USES?
Like kingwood (our spotlight last month), ebony is one of the most expensive lumber you can buy. In fact it is often triple the cost of even rosewood. The size of the tree this lumber comes from is part of the reason, as is the fact it is protected in some countries. For this reason it is used in small quantities as accents, ornaments or turning of small items (like pens – pictured below)
Great sources for more info on all types of woods are:
As always our online shop can be found here. We use all the woods we spotlight in our wood turnings.