Padauk (Pterocarpus soyauxii)

Padauk (Pterocarpus soyauxii)

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Common Name(s): African Padauk, Vermillion

Scientific Name: Pterocarpus soyauxii

Distribution: Central and tropical west Africa

Tree Size:100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall, 2-4 ft (.6-1.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 47 lbs/ft3 (745 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .61, .75

Janka Hardness: 1,970 lbf (8,760 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 16,830 lbf/in2 (116.0 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,700,000 lbf/in2 (11.72 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 8,130 lbf/in2 (56.0 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 3.3%, Tangential: 5.2%, Volumetric: 7.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.6

Color/Appearance: Heartwood color can vary, ranging from a pale pinkish orange to a deep brownish red. Most pieces tend to start reddish orange when freshly cut, darkening substantially over time to a reddish/purplish brown (some lighter pieces age to a grayish brown). See the article Preventing Color Changes in Exotic Woods for more information.

Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight, but can sometimes be interlocked. With a coarse, open texture and good natural luster. 

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; mineral deposits occasionally present; growth rings indistinct; rays not visible without lens; apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates, banded; paratracheal parenchyma aliform (winged), confluent, and banded.

Rot Resistance: Has excellent decay resistance, and is rated as durable to very durable. Padauk is also reported to be resistant to termites and other insects.

Workability: Overall Padauk is easy to work; tearout may also occur during planing on quartersawn or interlocked grain. Padauk turns, glues, and finishes well.

Odor: Padauk has a faint, pleasing scent while being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Padauk has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Widely imported as lumber in a variety of lengths and thicknesses, as well as turning and craft blanks. Should be moderately priced for an import.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, flooring, turned objects, musical instruments, furniture, tool handles, and other small specialty wood objects.

Comments: Padauk has a very unique reddish orange coloration, and the wood is sometimes referred to by the name Vermillion. Unfortunately, this dramatic color is inevitably darkened to a deep reddish brown color. (See the article Preventing Color Changes in Exotic Woods for more information.) UV-inhibiting finishes may prolong, but not prevent the gradual color-shift of this brightly colored wood.

Padauk is moderately heavy, strong, and stiff, with exceptional stability. It’s a popular hardwood among hobbyist woodworkers because of its unique color and low cost.

Padauk is perhaps the most frequently misspelled (and mispronounced) wood species, with Padouk, Paduk, and Paduak being common misspellings. The most common pronunciation is pah-DUKE, it is sometimes mispronounced as Paducah—a city in Kentucky.

Related Species:

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the turned photo of this wood species.

Padauk (sanded)

Padauk (sanded)

Padauk (sealed)

Padauk (sealed)

Padauk (endgrain)

Padauk (endgrain)

Padauk (endgrain 10x)

Padauk (endgrain 10x)

Padauk (turned)

Padauk (turned)

 
  • John Erwin

    I am contemplating turning a pepper mill from Padauk. Is that wood safe to use here? If so, should I finish the inside and with what?

  • I think it would be fine to use Padauk for a pepper mill. One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of woods cause allergic reactions, but that’s mainly from inhaling the wood dust itself. Very few woods are in and of themselves poisonous or toxic. (Yew and Sassafras come to mind in this category.) Also, I would stay away from spalted woods, which may have fungus or mold still present.

    I understand the concern to finish the inside, but I think it may be overkill. The finish itself, being closed off in a small sealed container, may have more spoiling effects than the wood itself—especially if a slow-drying oil-based finish is used. If anything, I’d maybe use a thin sealer coat of shellac, which is supposed to be food safe (it’s used for coatings of pills, etc.) and since its alcohol-based, it will dry very quickly and not “stink up” anything inside the mill.

  • Mark Klamm

    I decided to go with padauk and yellowheart for a chess board (3-1/4″ squares). Both produced very fine saw dust (the padauk will stain clothes…) and cuts cleanly. Glued up with biscuit joints worked nicely.

  • Trevor Bone

    padauk is a beautiful red-orange to bright orange hardwood, my first (exotic) pen was made of padauk.

  • Steve Thomas

    I am currently making an end grain cutting board from hard maple and pad auk. I chose the pad auk over Purple Heart because the end grain looked better. After milling the padauk, I am not so sure. I found the saw dust extreme and am wondering if my selection of padauk was a good choice.
    Ian interested in any feedback or comments

    Steve Thomas

  • Dave Kimball

    Padauk is the first true exotic I’ve worked with and I love the colors and bands of various shades in the wood BUT I found out quickly that tools needed to be wiped and different sheets of sand paper need to be used as the sawdust is very fine and stains hands, clothes, and can be imparted on other woods during sanding.

  • Trevor

    Unfortunately the color of African padauk doesn’t last long, in a few days the wood darkens to a deep redish-brown, however, if you vover it in CA super glue it stays bright orange for years to come.

  • Curly Pio

    I chose Paduak for a knife handle because of it’s striking contrasts of colors. However, shortly after finishing I found like TREVOR; the coloring all merged into a bland uniform look.
    I think sealing would be a good idea.

  • Jon B

    I started building acoustic guitars a couple of years ago, the best so far has back and sides made from padauk. I used 6 hour epoxy as a sealer and pore filler, which, it turns out, kept the color a beautiful deep red.
    It is brittle, loves to split, but will bend like cardboard for guitar sides if evenly heated to about 310 degrees (a little hotter than most guitar woods).
    The dust gets everywhere and will permanently stain clothes.
    If you hold up a board, hit it with a knuckle, and listen, (the “taptone”), it has very bright, almost glassy trebles, a warm low bass, and little in between, which is exactly how the guitar sounds, and I love it. This is the first guitar I built which I sold….

  • Anthony L

    Looking at using padauk for decking on my sailboat. I keep the boat stored outside in Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle year around and sail often even in our rainy Seattle days. Curious as to this wood being able to withstand the sail spray and weather. I could make a cover to use while not sailing. But if I don’t need to then I won’t.
    Thanks

    • Jordan Grant

      Im probably late with this but here goes. I used a piece of padauk edge trimmed from a 4qtr board for a tiller extension. I planed the corners out with a krenov style jointer plane I built and worked into a 4 ft long semi round taper with a spokeshave for a tiller extension on my sloop. Braided a turks head end cap, wrapped forward 10 in. and did 3 more turks head rings tight against the wrap. A largish between 2 smaller. Oiled the bare remainder with interior watco and thats it. Needs oil again. Its been on 3 yrs and has gotten very dark but who cares. The stuff dont warp,check or wind. Its bombproof.

    • Jesse Francis

      Most oily tropical woods are pretty resilient that way. The only thing that is for certain is that the sunlight is going to turn the padauk into a generic brown color very quickly, especially in your application.

  • Reece

    Hi Guys,

    I’m looking for a sustainable, strong, stable timber for the construction of a timber frame house. All timber will be exposed to the Cape Town elements. I’m able to get 76mm in long 4.5m lengths so this will do for the exposed structural beams, rafters etc. Does anyone think African Padauk will do the job.

    Cheers

    • Tom

      Paduak is an excellent outdoor wood in my opinion I expose the raw wood to new jersey weather for years with little problem, and it is available in large sizes however here in the US its difficult and expensive to get a hold of

  • Ed

    I recently bought a piece of Padouk to make a guitar with. Unfortunately I had it sent to my luthier, and I’m not sure the what the scheduling will be. I’m sure he’ll get me close up pics before work begins on the neck – I’ll post pictures when I get them.

    • ed

      it’s getting close

  • Mark Klamm

    I decided to go with padauk and yellowheart for a chess board (3-1/4″
    squares). Both produced very fine saw dust (the padauk will stain
    clothes…) and cuts cleanly. Glued up with biscuit joints worked
    nicely.

  • Robert Horton

    A warning to anyone who incorporates padauk into a project that also includes a lighter colored wood such as maple. When choosing a finish, avoid shellac. The pigment in padauk is alcohol soluble and will bleed a pinkish smear all over the place. I discovered this the hard way.

    • ejmeier

      This is very true. Though if you’re a die-hard shellac fan like me, you can still usually get away with combining the two woods using shellac if you’re careful. What I do is use a very light mix (1 pound cut) of shellac, and pad it on very lightly for the first coat. If you wipe along the direction of the wood edge, you should avoid smearing any coloration into the surrounding wood. Once the initial coats are dry, the wood should be sealed and you can then finish as usual.

  • JosephD

    If have wood allergies, skin irritant

  • Trevor Reed

    On the odor section, every time I have worked with Padauk, I have found it to have a very strong pepper-like scent, not a pleasing scent as the article suggests. I still love the wood though!

    • Jordan Grant

      Has a slight rose scent. Not much unlike some dalbergias.
      JMO

  • Arthur Cooper

    What a find and incredibly well done!

  • This is our first time using this wood at the request of a customer and I am surprised at how red it turned out to be! It is almost unbelievable, like they were stained, but this is natural. These have 2 coats of CA as a sealer and 12 coats of tru-oil. I hope they stay this red!

  • Beautiful!

  • Know What Mom Knows

    Can you eat out of those bowls? Like Soup?

  • Know What Mom Knows

    What did you use for the finish?

  • Jonathan Bluestein

    Padauk Spoon, finished with Tung Oil.

  • Wayne Silver

    Can Padauk be used in a cutting boad

    • ejmeier

      Padauk has very large open pores, so it would depend on what the cutting board is going to be used for. Some would say that you shouldn’t use these types of porous woods for things like cutting boards used for meats, as it will trap bacteria in these tiny holes.

  • Vladimir Le

    i need import Padauk to Vietnam
    My whatsapp: +84933551371