Bloodwood (Brosimum rubescens)

Bloodwood (Brosimum rubescens)

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Common Name(s): Bloodwood, Satine

Scientific Name: Brosimum rubescens (syn. B. paraense)

Distribution: Tropical South America

Tree Size: 80-150 ft (25-45 m) tall, 4-7 ft (1.2-2.1 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 66 lbs/ft3 (1,050 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .90, 1.05

Janka Hardness: 2,900 lbf (12,900 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 25,290 lbf/in2 (174.4 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 3,013,000 lbf/in2 (20.78 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 14,310 lbf/in2 (98.7 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.6%, Tangential: 7.0%, Volumetric: 11.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.5

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a bright, vivid red. Color can darken to a darker brownish red over time with exposure to light. Applying a thick protective finish, and keeping the wood out of direct sunlight can help slow this color shift. Well defined sapwood is a pale yellowish color, though given the typically large trunk diameters, it’s seldom seen or included in imported lumber.

Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight or slightly interlocked. Has a fine texture with good natural luster, and is also somewhat chatoyant.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large pores, few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses and other mineral deposits common; parenchyma winged and confluent; narrow to medium rays, normal spacing.

Rot Resistance: Reported to be very durable, and resistant to most insect attacks.

Workability: Bloodwood is extremely dense, and has a pronounced blunting effect on cutters. The wood tends to be brittle and can splinter easily while being worked. Those persistent enough to bear with the difficulties of working with Bloodwood to the finishing stage are rewarded with an exceptional and lustrous red surface.

Odor: Has a mild scent when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: The wood’s dust has been reported as occasionally causing effects such as thirst and salivation, as well as nausea. Can also cause skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Widely available in wide boards, as well as smaller turning squares and blanks.Many boards exhibit only a dull reddish brown coloration; truly blood-red pieces are the ideal. Prices are moderate to moderately high for an imported hardwood.

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

Common Uses: Carvings, trim, inlays, furniture, guitars, knife handles, and turned objects.

Comments: Traditionally known by the name Satine, it’s no wonder that the wood (now more commonly called Bloodwood) has grown so popular as an imported wood species. Though it poses some challenges in working characteristics, its hardness, strength, and coloration make this a crimson favorite.

Related Species:

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures:

Bloodwood (sanded)

Bloodwood (sanded)

Bloodwood (sealed)

Bloodwood (sealed)

Bloodwood (endgrain)

Bloodwood (endgrain)

Bloodwood (endgrain 10x)

Bloodwood (endgrain 10x)

  • Ben

    Bloodwood can often times have a very strong odor and can sometimes cause skin reactions. Take care when sanding it.

  • Rafael

    bloodwood is very hard an heavy.
    difficult to carve, but a great color.

  • Scott @ DustyNewt

    Love the mild aroma, and the iridescence of quarter sawn pieces. One of my favorites!

  • Bob McCollam

    I tried to use thin stripps of Blood woob for Guitar purflins & binding. It was very brittle. It did not bend will over a hot pipe so I put it in boiling water. I had some sucess bending in one direction but when I tried to reverse the bend at the waist but it splintered. I ended up with many joints in the purlins. I looks great after filling gaps with saw dust & super glue then sanding.

  • Dave

    Yeah, the sawdust & glue (or lacquer) trick works great with bloodwood. I’ve made a few boxes & rocking chair with it. LOVE this wood!

    I’m thinking/planning a solid body electric guitar made out of bloodwood (quarter sawn, if possible — the iridescent-like quality of the grain is gorgeous). Trying to get some idea about the tone qualities of the wood first. I’ve heard comparisons to mahogany, which is what my SG is made of.

  • Trevor

    When I first purchased Bloodwood the blank was quarter-sawn, will this affect its workability if so what can I do?
    ~Trevor

  • Marc

    I have a custom bow made of bloodwood. It shoots so great and the color is so impressive that I’m sure the next one I have made will be also made out of bloodwood.

  • Tom

    I found it splinters if you look at it wrong. It can be thoroughly miserable to work with. I found severe tear out with the router, and some tear out on the lathe. If you are careful and can get past the machining, it sands and finishes well. With lots of care the finished product is spectacular. I’ve made several high-end walking sticks out of bloodwood, and those are the ones people reach for first.

    • Super sharp tools are the key on the lathe. Good luck keeping them that way, though :)

  • JosephD

    If you have wood allergies, this species will trigger the hell out of, definitely wear a respirator

  • Graugeist

    If you are cutting this wood indoors wear a mask and have a shop vac handy. It will look like the wood bled all over the place. The dust is so fine and powdery that it goes every where.
    If you are using a power saw or table saw, I highly recommend cutting this one outside.

  • MarrsGuitars.com

    I’ve lately been trying it as a fingerboard material. Works fantastic (comparable to Indian Rosewood) but you must take great care when cutting the fret slots (to avoid splintering) It’s slow work, particularly when shaping the wood on a planer, and I generally sand it to at least 1,000 grit before slotting.

    The occasional fret may not seat well due to the hardness of the wood. A light coat of dewaxed shellac (rubbed on in almost French polish fashion) gives enough strength to cement the frets if such is the case.

    If the frets do seat on first attempt, it’s best to avoid the shellac and just apply an oil (such as Guitar Honey) to bring out the beauty of the wood.

    • I’ve been using Bloodwood for Bass and Guitar fretboards since the mid 90s and I love it.. I do prefer and recommend quarter sawn if you can find it, Plain sawn tends to warp easily and being as its so stiff it can be a serious problem on a neck. its very flexible and has a lot of “memory” would probably make a darn fine archery bow..

  • I’ve also made about a dozen small-ish projects for my shop out of bloodwood due to the gorgeous color and luster. At this point I am discontinuing it unless a customer wants to pay double the price I used to charge for it. And that’s due purely to the challenges of working with it. I haven’t had too many problems but a piece I just finished was a NIGHTMARE. It’s always very inclined to splinter, especially on the router, but that hasn’t been a problem for me. I haven’t found tear out to be worse than similarly hard woods but the boards I get are ALWAYS twisted. This last batch was so hard that my nail gun couldn’t shoot an 18 ga. wire nail into it. Of eight nails in the project four deflected and broke through the surface in an inconvenient place, three stood proud between 2 and 5 mm, and one went in and set itself below the surface as they usually do with other woods. In addition, four of the nails split the wood severely, and that was with the nails placed more than an inch from the end of the board to avoid that problem.

    Bottom line – this stuff looks great but is a lot of work to get it there. The issues mentioned about the sawdust are also true – it’s like red colored flour that gets in everything. The reward is, when sanded to a very fine grit and properly finished, a depth of color, lustre, and chatoyance that’s hard to find elsewhere.

  • ejmeier

    You’d more than likely have to pre-drill pilot holes.

    • Josh

      Thank you for your advice.

    • definitely predrill – I’ve had bad results with my nail gun

  • Jared Snyder

    If you guys want to see something beautiful, burn the wood slightly with a blowtorch. Just hold the flame a couple inches away from the wood and burn it as if you’re painting. It makes the color so much deeper and brighter and once you put a sealant overtop of it, it makes it some of the most beautiful wood you’ll ever see.

    • ejmeier

      Got any before and after pics?

  • virtualCableTV

    I have been sitting on ~8-10 3-5/16″ x 2-5/8″ x 6′ dressed stock wondering what I am finally going to do with it. I’ll take some private offers via Twitter to @virtualCableTV

  • Thomas DeCoste

    I really enjoy the smell of this wood while working with it. It smells like pipe tobacco. It may be an acquired smell, but I enjoyed it. I also found working with a router and a bowl shaping bit to work beautifully. Cut it on my table saw with a fine tooth blade and it came out great as well. No splintering or tear out. It’s hard as nails and sanding is a real bear, but overall it has been a joy to work with so far. No allergies for me when working with it. Did everything in a t-shirt and shorts without any issues. Maybe I just got lucky. Here’s some photos of working with this wood. No sanding has been done in these photos as I’m waiting for some sanding discs to come in. No way I’m sanding this thing manually. I don’t have the arm strength.

    [img]https://farm1.staticflickr.com/397/19811317584_c599dba90c_b.jpg[/img]
    [img]https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3715/20433974595_f247f086ac_b.jpg[/img]
    [img]https://farm1.staticflickr.com/507/20245882950_14cbfe10dd_b.jpg[/img]
    [img]https://farm1.staticflickr.com/295/20257875920_2b673970ab_b.jpg[/img]

  • Omry Yadan

    Bloodwood bowl on the lathe, this is after sanding and before applying any finish.

  • Cece

    I believe I have a few of these trees in the park I’m in at Acton CA USA. How they got here I have no idea. The leaves look like eucalyptus but bark is thick brown with clear red sap leaking out of the wounds. It is growing near a sandy wash with drainage as required. I’m going to cut a branch for a walking stick. There is a lot of sap from one I will collect for the medicinal properties. I’m melting some sap in my oil burner and it’s a really nice wood/flavored cigar smell – not at all over bearing. I appreciate all the comments. I’m an amateur at carving – this will be my first. Using only hand tools. Looks like I don’t need to care about curing it first. Thank you.

  • Jonathan Morton