Bubinga (Guibourtia spp.)

Bubinga (Guibourtia spp.)

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Common Name(s): Bubinga, Kevazingo

Scientific Name: Guibourtia spp. (G. demeusei, G. pellegriniana, G. tessmannii)

Distribution: Equatorial Africa

Tree Size: 130-150 ft (40-45 m) tall, 3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 56 lbs/ft3 (890 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .72, .89

Janka Hardness: 2,410 lbf (10,720 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 24,410 lbf/in2 (168.3 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 2,670,000 lbf/in2 (18.41 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 10,990 lbf/in2 (75.8 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 6.0%, Tangential: 8.2%, Volumetric: 13.9%, T/R Ratio: 1.4

Color/Appearance: Heartwood ranges from a pinkish red to a darker reddish brown with darker purple or black streaks. Sapwood is a pale straw color and is clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Bubinga is very frequently seen with a variety of figure, including: pommele, flamed, waterfall, quilted, mottled, etc.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight to interlocked. Has a uniform fine to medium texture and moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; medium pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; mineral deposits occasionally present; growth rings distinct due to marginal parenchyma; rays faintly visible without lens; parenchyma vasicentric, aliform, confluent, and banded (marginal).

Rot Resistance: Ranges from moderately durable to very durable depending upon the the species. Bubinga is also reported to be resistant to termite and marine borer attack.

Workability: Easy to work overall, though depending upon the species Bubinga can have silica present, which can prematurely dull cutting edges. Also, on pieces with figured or interlocking grain, tearout can occur during planing or other machining operations. Gluing can occasionally be problematic due to Bubinga’s high density and natural oils. Turns and finishes well.

Odor: Bubinga is reported to have an unpleasant scent when the lumber is still wet, which disappears after the wood is dry.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Bubinga has been reported to cause skin irritation and/or skin lesions in some individuals. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Should be moderately priced for an import. Figured grain patterns such as waterfall, pommele, etc. are likely to be much more expensive.

Sustainability: Although Bubinga is not evaluated on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the three Guibourtia species yielding Bubinga are listed on CITES appendix II—which also includes finished products made of the wood.

Common Uses: Veneer, inlays, fine furniture, cabinetry, turnings, and other specialty items. Since Bubinga trees can grow so large, natural-edge slabs of the wood have also been used in tabletops and other specialized projects.

Comments: An immensely popular imported African hardwood, Bubinga may be loved as much for its quirky name as it is for its strength and beauty. Also sometimes called Kevazingo, usually in reference to its decorative rotary-cut veneer.

Bubinga has a close resemblance to rosewood, and is often use in place of more expensive woods. Yet Bubinga also features a host of stunning grain figures, such as flamed, pommele, and waterfall, which make this wood truly unique. Bubinga also has an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio.

Related Species:

Related Articles:

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

Bubinga (sanded)

Bubinga (sanded)

Bubinga (sealed)

Bubinga (sealed)

Bubinga (endgrain)

Bubinga (endgrain)

Bubinga (endgrain 10x)

Bubinga (endgrain 10x)

Bubinga (turned)

Bubinga (turned)

Bubinga (finished)

Bubinga (finished)

Bubinga (21" x 8.5")

Bubinga (21″ x 8.5″)

 
  • Brian

    In my experience with bubinga, as I took my pieces down to finished size, I had some slight to moderate warping in the wood. I don’t know if humidity was a factor or not. Or maybe the wood didn’t fully dry before I bought it, but would suggest approaching the finished size gently and allowing the freshly cut wood fibers to adjust accordingly.

  • Dan

    Bubinga is used a lot in native american flutes with a wonderful bright tone and gorgeous finish. For the data base – I believe this is also known as african rosewood?

  • helen mehigan

    i want to buy bubinga timber but dont know if i can preferrably in Ireland or else england.

  • Steve

    Timberline in England is where i bought mine from for making a native flute.
    http://www.exotichardwoods.co.uk/
    Sell all sorts of sizes & shapes

  • Tai Fu

    Do not assume that your wood is properly seasoned when you get it… with these denser wood it is best to sticker them until they have acclimated to your shop. I have bought wood that was “dry” from suppliers but they needed more time before they are completely dry. This is the reason why I prefer buying unprocessed lumber and surfacing it myself…

  • Robert Toland

    I’m considering using bubinga in some pieces. Has anyone tried steam bending it?

  • Leonard Carter

    I’m making a handle for a Zulu iklwa with this wood. It’s amazing to look at, hard and strong, and not too hard on the tools. One thing though, they weren’t kidding when they said the odor is “unpleasant”. That’s an understatement – it smells like vomit. Literally. It actually has that choking tang that only (or so I thought) vomit has. If you leave any shavings or dust laying around, you’ll come back the next day and think “Who threw up in my shop?” If it’s dry, I’ve been told that it doesn’t stink. Other than that, great wood!

    • ejmeier

      Yet another reason to use dried wood! Reading this made me realize why I’ve seldom seen green turning blanks of Bubinga.

  • WoodB Luthier

    I have worked the wood down to 2mm thickness and it bends great for guitar sides. You can tell wood is hard. I look forward to finishing something that doesn’t have open pores.
    It glues well… bends well… Nice guitar wood

  • Roy Welch

    I have a tenor recorder made by the late Albert Lockwood. It produces a clear strong sweet sound. Such a pity that there is not a great deal of solo music written for the tenor.

  • Chris Goodman Jr.

    Goodman Drum Company African Bubinga solid wood stave snare drum!

  • James Glandon (Shifty)