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″)
 

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Aaron
Aaron

I used to work with bubinga a lot. It’s sometimes very heavy and dense especially if it has any curl in it. Very strong wood, beautiful color. When it’s dry I’ve never noticed any unpleasant odor, in fact after drilling a lot of holes in it your blade will dull fairly quick and start to burn the wood, same with routing, but I did notice the smoke from some pieces when that happened smelled very sweet. Some pieces it just smelled like burned wood but every once in a while one would smell really nice. Great wood. Can be hard… Read more »

Anthm
Anthm

I found an old solid wood double bed on a rubbish pile, at first I thought it was African mahogany , after making a Sungka board out of it and further research I think it is Bubinga, any ideas would be welcomed.
Kind Regards

Gordon
Gordon

Greetings! Just a quick story to remind you that toxicity is a real thing. I’m a lifelong woodworker and made a recent PPE mistake; I sanded bubinga with 220 and had no respirator. A quick (small) job that by almost any comparison should have been a simple task. The next day I broke out in a severe rash where I had contact with the fine particles. Day two, my face was selling and off to the ER I went. Diagnosed as Allergic Contact Dermatitis, the cure was steroid shots, meds, and “don’t do that again”. I’m sharing this because I… Read more »

Sheila White
Sheila White

Is Bubinga recommended for end grain cutting boards, or are the pores too big?

Sean
Sean

*Sheldon voice* Bubinga!

Neill Flate
Neill Flate

I turned a bubinga bowl for the first time. It was very punky with some light tearout. Also tended to show tools marks that were tough to remove without making the bowl too thin. I don’t think that I will be using again for this purpose.

Leon from Fort Myers
Leon from Fort Myers

Had a similar experience re light tearout in making a bowl with a router bit, plus it really ate up sandpaper – not a pleasure to work with. However, the finished product is really a beauty and with a Briwax clear finish it has an understated elegance.

Leon from Fort Myers
Leon from Fort Myers

I made a bowl for my wife using a specialized router bit and noted the same issue with light tearout. But, after substantial sanding and a BriWax clear finish, the finished piece is has an understated elegance.

David Hall
David Hall

I’ve got a lovely Bass made partly from Bubinga.

Shane Walton
Shane Walton

Love the mottled bubinga of my custom shop Warwick Thumb 5 string. But whoa is it heavy!!! Between it and the wenge neck, the tone cannot be beaten.comment image

Desolo SubHumus

Personally, I love my bubinga comb I bought from Sierra Legacy (https://www.combmaker.com/) at a ren faire in the late 90’s. I keep it looking new by occasionally re-treating it with a beeswax and olive oil sealant I make at home.

Shane Walton
Shane Walton

Do you have a recipie you can share for your sealant? I have a guitar with an oiled bubinga body and wenge neck. The manufacturer recommends a beeswax sealant but sometimes it’s hard to come by and is pretty expensive.

Desolo SubHumus

https://themoderndiylife.blogspot.com/2012/12/diy-beeswax-wood-polish-and-sealant.html

I tested his sealant for myself, and it’s become the only sealant I’ll use.

Alex
Alex

I also make my own polish using beeswax and vegetable and coconut oil, it comes out noticably nicer than the shop brought stuff and is food safe, completely natural and quite economical as I can get a bar of wax for 75p at a local honey farm and one bar can produce 2 jars of polish. I have put it on my pine shelves and oak table and alway think of what a good job it does when I see them.

James Glandon (Shifty)
James Glandon (Shifty)

I have a 2004 Ibanez S1626FBNT, the top is a beautiful comment image

Hugh
Hugh

What a beutiful guitar .

Chris Goodman Jr.
Chris Goodman Jr.

Goodman Drum Company African Bubinga solid wood stave snare drum!

Roy Welch
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.

WoodB Luthier
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

sdrake
sdrake

I agree with you– the top is absolutely gorgeous! In fact, the entire guitar is very, very beautiful. I’ll bet it plays great!

Leonard Carter
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!

Robert Toland
Robert Toland

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

Tai Fu
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…

Steve
Steve

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

helen mehigan
helen mehigan

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

Dan
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?

Brian
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.