Wenge (Millettia laurentii)

Wenge (Millettia laurentii)

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Common Name(s): Wenge

Scientific Name: Millettia laurentii

Distribution: Central Africa

Tree Size: 60-90 ft (18-27 m) tall, 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 54 lbs/ft3 (870 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .72, .87

Janka Hardness: 1,930 lbf (8,600 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 21,990 lbf/in2 (151.7 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 2,550,000 lbf/in2 (17.59 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 11,710 lbf/in2 (80.7 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.8%, Tangential: 8.1%, Volumetric: 12.9%, T/R Ratio: 1.7

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is medium brown, sometimes with a reddish or yellowish hue, with nearly black streaks. Upon application of a wood finish (particularly an oil finish) the wood can become nearly black.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight, with a very coarse texture. Low natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large to very large pores in no specific arrangement, very few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; dark brown mineral deposits occasionally present; medium rays not visible without lens, normal spacing; parenchyma vasicentric, confluent, with wide bands of parenchyma typically as thick as the pores.

Rot Resistance: Very durable, and resistant to termite attack.

Workability: Can be difficult to work with hand and machine tools. Blunts tool edges. Sands unevenly due to differences in density between light and dark areas. Very splintery—care must be used when handling unfinished wood with bare hands, as splinters have an increased risk of infection. Very large pores can be difficult to fill if a perfectly smooth/level finish is desired.

Odor: Wenge has a faint, slightly bitter scent when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon,  breathing Wenge wood dust has been reported to cause central nervous system effects, abdominal cramps, irritation of the skin and eyes, and is a sensitizer. Also, Wenge splinters tend to take longer to heal and  are more likely to go septic (get infected) than splinters from other woods. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Available in wide boards and veneer sheets. Prices are high, and are likely to remain so as supplies dwindle.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.

Common Uses: Veneer, paneling, furniture, turned objects, and musical instruments.

Comments: Usually pronounced WHEN-gii or WHEN-ghay, the wood has excellent strength and hardness properties, and is also dark enough to be used as a substitute for ebony.

Related Species:

Related Articles:

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

Wenge (sanded)

Wenge (sanded)

Wenge (sealed)

Wenge (sealed)

Wenge (endgrain)

Wenge (endgrain)

Wenge (endgrain 10x)

Wenge (endgrain 10x)

Wenge (turned)

Wenge (turned)

Wenge (bookmatched)

Wenge (bookmatched)

25 Comments

  1. Jim Zhu February 15, 2018 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    This makes a good handmade slingshot.

  2. Mark King January 13, 2018 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    Would it be possible to make a butcher block desk out of katalox and wenge wood ?

  3. Ján Bakoš December 4, 2017 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    is it possible to use this wood as a building material for a house?

  4. Shane Walton September 19, 2017 at 1:05 am - Reply

    Nothing better, in my opinion, than a wenge neck. Strong, beautiful, it sounds incredible and feels amazing! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bde4fdd2b08f97ae87b95b3b06e4a3e45ab7582fef08997ad404dadd0058512e.jpg

  5. Juggernaut1969 October 20, 2015 at 4:14 am - Reply

    I use Wenge often in guitars I build often in the neck laminate or in the fret board. I find it to be easy enough to work with as long as you are aware that it will splinter on the edges and you can crack it if you try to bend it too much.
    This is a bass I built where the neck and body are carved out of a single piece of Bubinga. I then glued a Wenge fret board to the neck.

    • Rob Paschall November 29, 2015 at 11:37 am - Reply

      can you get in contact with me on facebook about a wenge bass?

    • pios February 20, 2018 at 1:12 pm - Reply

      pour les petites pièces il existe un procédé qui améliore les qualités acoustiques du wengé , impregnation à l’huile puis passages très brefs au micro onde

  6. matthew mclachlan January 4, 2015 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    I was looking at a few pieces of wenge & noticed how straight the grain is. Was wondering since I have been having trouble finding hickory in my area if making a hammer handle from wenge would be a good idea. Any thoughts? (Hammer would be for construction work so very hard on the hammer so any thoughts would be appreciated, if I should just save my money and search harder for some hickory :P

    • Mario Cargol September 15, 2015 at 9:37 am - Reply

      It would be nice looking but watch out with the splinters !!!

    • TownCalendars November 30, 2017 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, breathing Wenge wood dust has been reported to cause central nervous system effects, abdominal cramps, irritation of the skin and eyes, and is a sensitizer. Also, Wenge splinters tend to take longer to heal and are more likely to go septic (get infected) than splinters from other woods. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

  7. Astralan June 21, 2014 at 11:32 am - Reply

    I am currently looking at an electric bass that has a neck of this material with a rosewood fretboard. Never seen anything like this and wondered how hardy it would be having strings putting stress on the wood?

    • ejmeier June 21, 2014 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Wenge should be plenty strong for this.

    • 2018 January December 15, 2017 at 5:00 pm - Reply

      is it possible to use this wood as a building material for a house?

  8. CFU January 24, 2014 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    why would wenge have a blond center similar to sap wood

    • treetard March 17, 2014 at 12:23 am - Reply

      The white color will disappear as the air gets to it. It’s common when the wood is cut from the log to see white color which fades with time.

  9. JosephD November 18, 2013 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    Found that cracks easy if not careful when giving pressure from point to point on lathe

  10. blair hohn September 16, 2013 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Wenge handle hand turned by Berkhouse Knifeworks

  11. Bernard TAILLEFER March 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Dans la province du Bandundu, village de Intswem Labwi sur la route d’Idiofa j’ai rencontré un jardinier qui utilise la fleur de l’arbre comme engrais naturel

    • Grey Wolf April 29, 2016 at 9:38 am - Reply

      Say what!!!!

    • clip art May 29, 2017 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      Comments: Usually pronounced WHEN-gii or WHEN-ghay, the wood has excellent strength and hardness properties, and is also dark enough to be used as a substitute for ebony.

    • kevin love instagram September 27, 2017 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      Crushing Strength: 11,710 lbf/in2 (80.7 MPa)

    • blank calendar October 28, 2017 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Odor: Wenge has a faint, slightly bitter scent when being worked.

  12. blair hohn March 26, 2013 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Wenge handle hand turned by Berkhouse Knifeworks

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