Burmese Blackwood (Dalbergia cultrata)

Burmese Blackwood (Dalbergia cultrata)

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Common Name(s): Burmese Blackwood, Khamphi Rosewood, Laos Rosewood

Scientific Name: Dalbergia cultrata

Distribution: Southeast Asia

Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 1-1.6 ft (.3-.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 66 lbs/ft3 (1,060 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .87, 1.06

Janka Hardness: 3,350 lbf (14,900 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 11,450 lbf/in2 (78.9 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,600,000 lbf/in2 (11.03 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 5,100 lbf/in2 (35.2 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 5.5%, Tangential: 9.2%, Volumetric: 14.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.7

Color/Appearance: Heartwood color is variable, and ranges from a medium olive or reddish brown to a darker purplish brown, frequently with nearly black streaks throughout. Color tends to darken with age. Pale gray sapwood is clearly demarcated from heartwood. With the light and dark streaks and lighter parenchyma bands, the wood can have a very unique (though subtle) grain pattern, particularly on flatsawn surfaces.

Grain/Texture: Grain can be irregular. With a uniform medium texture and very good natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; solitary and radial multiples; large pores in no specific arrangement, very few; dark brown gum deposits common; parenchyma vasicentric, and banded (sometimes in wide bands); narrow rays, spacing normal to fairly close.

Rot Resistance: No data available, though being a dense rosewood, it’s most likely very durable. Resistant to termites.

Workability: May be difficult to work on account of its density. Being in the Dalbergia genus, gluing precautions should be observed. Turns and finishes well, and able to take a high polish.

Odor: Mild scent not resembling most rosewoods in the Dalbergia genus.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, rosewood in the Dalbergia genus has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. See the articlesWood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Occasionally imported as short and narrow boards, or turning stock. Prices are in the mid to upper range for an imported hardwood.

Sustainability: Burmese Blackwood 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’s also reported by the IUCN as being near threatened. Technically it doesn’t meet the Red List criteria of a vulnerable or endangered species, but is close to qualifying and/or may qualify in the near future.

Common Uses: Turned objects, carvings, furniture, inlay, musical instruments (percussion), and small specialty wood items.

Comments: Called by a number of names, such as Khamphi Rosewood or Laos Rosewood, this species is actually in the true rosewood genus (Dalbergia), though another species, Dalbergia oliveri, is called Burmese Rosewood and has an overlapping distribution.

In addition to its unique coloration and grain patterning, Burmese Blackwood is also reputed to be very resonant, and is sometimes used for marimba bars and other musical instrument applications.

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Burmese Blackwood (Dalbergia cultrata)

Burmese Blackwood (sanded)

Burmese Blackwood (sealed)

Burmese Blackwood (sealed)

Burmese Blackwood (endgrain)

Burmese Blackwood (endgrain)

Burmese Blackwood (endgrain 10x)

Burmese Blackwood (endgrain 10x)

Burmese Blackwood (vessel)

Burmese Blackwood (turned)