Monday, October 8, 2012

Wood of the Month - Ebony

There are two main types of ebony and a very small number of others. The main two are:

"Gabon ebony", which is the common name I use for what is also called "Nigerian ebony", "East African ebony", and many other names depending on country of origin. This is what people normally mean when they say "ebony". It's the black kind, although it actually frequently has lighter streaks. It is generally VERY expensive and requires some care in working as it is slightly brittle and prone to cracking.

"Macassar ebony", which is usually a very striped wood with widely varying amounts of light and dark wood. This name is to be distinguished from "Madagascar ebony" which is just another common name equivalent to "Gabon ebony". Macassar ebony is also expensive (all the ebony's are) but is somewhat less delicate to work than Gabon ebony.

Some of the other specialty woods that are occasionally available in the USA, are "pale moon ebony" (aka "black and white ebony"), "mun ebony", and persimmon, which is not normally thought of as an ebony, but which does belong to the same genus.

Some of the wood-producing species that are sold under the names discussed above. All of these have more than one common name (most of them MANY more than one), but I list only one, sometimes two, for simplicity. Many of these are not black. Persimmon, for example, is almost all light colored with a tiny pith area of black. Some of these have no black at all.

NOTE: the names "black ebony", "African ebony", and "streaked (or striped) ebony" are so widely applied to many of the species in this genus that they are almost meaningless.

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