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 to very large pores in no specific arrangement, very few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; mineral deposits occasionally present; growth rings indistinct; narrow rays not visible without lens, fairly close to close spacing; parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates, 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)
 

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Steve
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Steve

For the life of me, I can’t place the smell when I run Padauk through my table saw… for about 10 seconds, it smells like… freshly made chocolate? driving me nuts. Other than that, I love using it for a bit of colour in my cutting boards (edge grain), and I’ve made a toy truck for my grandson. I finish with 3 coats of Osmo Top Oil and have had no problems at all. I love this wood with Maple, Walnut, Zebrawood etc.

ExRxIT
Guest
ExRxIT

I’m halfway through building an African Padauk acoustic guitar. Observations so far: Side bending requires more heat than some woods, but it scorches easily. I had to run the sides through 2 heat cycles in the bending machine and they still sprung back fiercly. It is also prone to splitting, so you have to be careful about forcing them into a mold. Next time I would thickness them down to 0.08″ instead of 0.09″. The pigment in the sanding dust is amazingly potent, and very soluble in water and alcohol. I’ve abandoned plans for curly maple binding, which would end… Read more »

John
Guest
John

I love the wood for its color, but when I cut it on my table saw, the saw dust is like powder, goes everywhere and stains my clothes. Beware. Same thing when I use a random orbital sander. I have used it on cutting boards, but mostly for serving boards rather than chopping or cutting boards. Also, the smell of freshly sawn padauk is very pleasant.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Ditto for the dust; I recently made kitchen tools using padauk. Once it got on the belt sander, the sawdust flew everywhere, more so than the other woods I was using. I now have a very pretty padauk-stained concrete floor.

Evan
Guest
Evan

i put it in my longboard, still a work in progress but it should look good with my beech

Jim Fellows
Guest
Jim Fellows

I don’t use padauk in my woodworking, but have used the sawdust in alcohol to dye paper. I am testing for light fastness in paper but assuming it is fugitive, as it is in wood. Too soon to say, but so far surprisingly good after 6 months. Creates a beautiful salmon pink that is hard to describe. For those using alcohol based polish or varnishes on padauk: to keep it from bleeding I strongly suggest you experiment with egg white as a sealer. Don’t water it down, just remove the yoke and brush the white on. There are more complicated… Read more »

Eric
Guest
Eric

What is the white “mold” on the surface of my Padauk? It wipes off. Will it come back under my finish?

Adam Lloyd Miller
Guest
Adam Lloyd Miller

I have a Mali billiards stick whose butt end is made from Padauk wood…it is a gorgeous deep red-brown color and has held its beautiful color for over 30 years. Love the stick and the look…named her “old faithful” due to years of consistent play.

Robert
Guest
Robert

I make crosses and trivets and they are beautiful. I give to friends and relatives and they are amazed at how they look and can’t truly express how much they appreciate them.

randy
Guest
randy

can kit be used to make a smokeable tobacco pipe?

Wayne Silver
Guest
Wayne Silver

Can Padauk be used in a cutting boad

Jonathan Bluestein
Guest
Jonathan Bluestein

Padauk Spoon, finished with Tung Oil.

Know What Mom Knows
Guest
Know What Mom Knows

What did you use for the finish?

Know What Mom Knows
Guest
Know What Mom Knows

Can you eat out of those bowls? Like Soup?

Jennifer C
Guest

Beautiful!

Jennifer C
Guest

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!

Arthur Cooper
Guest
Arthur Cooper

What a find and incredibly well done!

Trevor Reed
Guest
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
Guest
Jordan Grant

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

JosephD
Guest
JosephD

If have wood allergies, skin irritant

Robert Horton
Guest
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.

Mark Klamm
Guest
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.

Ed
Guest
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
Guest
ed

it’s getting close

CHARLES OTTO Jr
Guest

Hey Ed Here are pics of a Padauk guitar I just Finished. Featuring a Maple Stripe and Yes it is a Hollow Body.

Reece
Guest
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
Guest
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

John R
Guest
John R

What do you mean br viverbit in CA suoer glue?

Anthony L
Guest
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
Guest
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… Read more »

Jesse Francis
Guest
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.

Jon B
Guest
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… Read more »

Curly Pio
Guest
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.

Trevor
Guest
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.

Dave Kimball
Guest
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.

Steve Thomas
Guest
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

Trevor Bone
Guest
Trevor Bone

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

Mark Klamm
Guest
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.

John Erwin
Guest
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?