East Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia)

East Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia)

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Common Name(s): East Indian Rosewood, Indian Rosewood, sonokeling 

Scientific Name: Dalbergia latifolia

Distribution: India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia

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

Average Dried Weight: 52 lbs/ft3 (830 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .70, .83

Janka Hardness: 2,440 lbf (10,870 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 16,590 lbf/in2 (114.4 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,668,000 lbf/in2 (11.50 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 8,660 lbf/in2 (59.7 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 2.7%, Tangential: 5.9%, Volumetric: 8.5%, T/R Ratio: 2.2

Color/Appearance: Heartwood of East Indian Rosewood can vary from a golden brown to a deep purplish brown, with darker brown streaks. The wood darkens with age, usually becoming a deep brown.

Grain/Texture: Has a medium texture and fairly small pores. The grain is usually narrowly interlocked.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; medium to large pores in no specific arrangement, very few to few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; heartwood deposits (dark brown) occasionally present; narrow rays not visible without lens, normal to fairly close spacing; parenchyma banded, vasicentric, lozenge, winged, and confluent.

Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable and resistant to termite attack.

Workability: East Indian Rosewood can be difficult to work with tools because of its interlocked grain and density. The wood can sometimes contain chalky deposits that will rapidly dull cutting edges. Glues and finishes well, though color from the wood’s natural resins can inadvertently bleed onto surrounding surfaces when applying a finish, so care must be taken on the initial seal coats.

Odor: Has a distinct, rose-like scent when being worked; some find its scent less pleasant than other Dalbergia rosewoods.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are somewhat uncommon, East Indian Rosewood has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually the most common reaction is skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Generally good availability in both board and turning blank form. Expect prices to be high for an imported hardwood, though not as prohibitively high as some of the scarcer rosewoods.

Sustainability: East Indian Rosewood is listed on CITES appendix II under the genus-wide restriction on all Dalbergia species—which also includes finished products made of the wood. It is also listed on the IUCN Red List as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.

Common Uses: Fine furniture, musical instruments, veneer, turned and other specialty wood objects.

Comments: East Indian Rosewood has been used extensively on acoustic guitars since the mid 1960s as a substitute for the now-endangered Brazilian Rosewood.

Related Species:

Related Articles:

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

East Indian Rosewood (sanded)

East Indian Rosewood (sanded)

East Indian Rosewood (sealed)

East Indian Rosewood (sealed)

East Indian Rosewood (endgrain)

East Indian Rosewood (endgrain)

East Indian Rosewood (endgrain 10x)

East Indian Rosewood (endgrain 10x)

East Indian Rosewood (turned)

East Indian Rosewood (turned)

 
  • Curly Pio

    East Indian Rosewood was uncomplicated to work with however, I noticed a red rash on the insides of my wrists and forearms.
    I now use gloves and long sleeves when sanding with this wood.

  • Does this wood have a sparkle in the sun? I came across some wood from Indonesia sold as rot resistant plant stakes in 3/4″ square 6-foot stakes which works beautifully as xylophone keys.

    It is loud and has a nice long sustain when rung compared to:

    -two different samples of what I thought to be Brazilian Rosewood that I bought 35 years ago

    -African Sapele which has a quite usable tone

    -Cedar is actually pretty bright and loud if coarse and tinny and it’s popular for guitar soundboards
    -Redwood is similar to Cedar

    -English Yew stunk
    -Doug Fir useless
    -Purpleheart and a few more unknowns were tested…

    Honduras Rosewood, Dalbergia stevensonii is supposed to be the only answer for xylophones apart from fiberglass synthetics. Surely many other woods have been used for xylophones across the world but I couldn’t find out which. This article gives African Padauk as a so-so option: http://sbomagazine.com/commentary/4338-32the-rosewood-forest-chasing-an-answer.html

    The other desirable quality in xylophone wood is low notes vs high pingy woods. My indonesian wood came in low toned compared to Sapele and especially Cedar.

    My sparkly Indonesian wood isn’t terribly heavy though it does polish up silky smooth like a beautiful tropical hardwood in rich browns. It seems to have coarse squarish reflective qualities in the sun, at least when roughly sanded.

  • Rowland Heights ChessKraft

    I’m sorry to announce,

    As of January, 2017, East Indian Rosewood, like most of our treasured Rosewoods, has been stamped onto the list of restricted woods for exportation by the Indian Government. Gone now are yet two more of these valuable woods: East Indian Rosewood and Sissoo.