Canarywood (Centrolobium spp.)

Canarywood (Centrolobium spp.)

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Common Name(s): Canarywood, Canary

Scientific Name: Centrolobium spp.

Distribution: South America (from Panama down to southern Brazil)

Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter

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

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .65, .83

Janka Hardness: 1,520 lbf (6,750 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 19,080 lbf/in2 (131.6 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 2,164,000 lbf/in2 (14.93 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 9,750 lbf/in2 (67.2 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 2.4%, Tangential: 5.6%, Volumetric: 8.4%, T/R Ratio: 2.3

Color/Appearance: Heartwood color can vary a fair amount, from a pale yellow-orange to a darker reddish brown, usually with darker streaks throughout. Pale yellow sapwood is sharply demarcated from heartwood. Color tends to darken and homogenize with age: see the article Preventing Color Changes in Exotic Woods for more information.

Grain/Texture: Grain is typically straight, but can be irregular or wild on some pieces. Uniform fine to medium texture with good natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement, few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; mineral/gum deposits occasionally present; growth rings indistinct; rays not visible without lens; parenchyma varies depending on species: can be vasicentric, aliform, and confluent.

Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable in regard to decay resistance, as well as being resistant to termite and marine borer attack.

Workability: Easy to work with both hand and machine tools, though some tearout can occur during planing on pieces with wild or irregular grain. Good dimensional stability. Turns, glues and finishes well.

Odor: Canarywood has a distinct scent when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Canarywood. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Generally available in good sizes of lumber, and occasionally also offered as turning blanks. Prices should be moderate for an imported hardwood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Construction lumber, railroad crossties, flooring, veneers, boatbuilding, furniture, cabinetry, and turned items.

Comments: Some pieces of Canarywood can be almost rainbow colored—with dark red streaks, along with the natural orange, yellow, and brown coloration.

Canarywood is said to have good acoustic properties, and is sometimes used for speaker enclosures and entertainment system cabinets.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Justin Holden for providing the wood sample of this wood species.

Canarywood (Centrolobium spp.)

Canarywood (sanded)

Canarywood (sealed)

Canarywood (sealed)

Canarywood (endgrain)

Canarywood (endgrain)

Canarywood (endgrain 10x)

Canarywood (endgrain 10x)

Canarywood (sealed)

Canarywood (flatsawn)


  1. Kim Allen February 10, 2018 at 12:52 am - Reply

    I have noticed the dust is irritating as well. I splinter felt like a bee sting until I removed it. I chose this wood for its coloring and grain pattern for a urn. I have also noticed the acoustical properties. I build architectural wood panels and diffusers for theaters.

  2. Ed Davidson January 20, 2018 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    The look of some Canary wood reminds me of Tulipwood, but it’s a lot cheaper and easier to find.

  3. Leowoodturner December 10, 2016 at 2:31 am - Reply

    I have only turned one piece of canarywood. However, I think it was by far the most pleasant experience. The wood turned smooth, and the sweet smell in the air was quite amazing. I made a pretty slick looking police baton out of it. I noticed all of the blanks had insect holes and chose one with the least Is this pretty common with canarywood? I simply sanded smooth and used the wood dust to fill several holes. It made for a great piece.

  4. bobj July 27, 2015 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    Canarywood is quite good acoustically speaking, and made a nice sounding (and looking) guitar. It does seem to split rather easily, but otherwise is easy to work with, and it was easy to bend the sides on a hot pipe with a spritz of water.

  5. Stu January 24, 2013 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    I have had a similar experience I dropped a piece on the concrete floor and it had a nice clean sound. So I am going to use some for a sound box on a stringed instrument. I just started today on the project, so I have no data to pass on at this time.

  6. TMB June 26, 2012 at 6:08 am - Reply

    I use this wood for turning bowls and lidded jars, going to try doing threaded stuff as well. It is the wood I go to most when I want to turn something easy that will come out looking nice regardless of simplicity in the design I create on the object I am making.

    One thing I notice, strong it is, but can easily chip off sharp edges in large chunks. In other words, when I am turning square pieces on the lathe, like no other wood, this can tear out large chunks. Kind of like an overly brittle rock.

  7. Eric January 28, 2012 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    Robert, I actually have a funny story about this subject: I was making bowed psalteries ( and by accident I knocked some thin strips of Canarywood on the concrete floor, and remarked at how acoustically-pleasing the sound was.

    I guess I don’t have any official way of measuring it, but I consider Canarywood to be a decent tonewood; very similar to Padauk to my ears.

  8. Robert Baker January 27, 2012 at 8:57 am - Reply

    I have been given two canary wood planks, 2″ x 6″ x 72″. They have been planed and appeared to have been kiln dried. I was planning on making a xylophone, and was wondering if this wood would be a good choice for the note bars (1 3/16″ x 5/8″ x various lengths).


  9. Harmon Atkins March 8, 2011 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    I like working with this wood. I have been cutting it with a scroll saw. It cuts and finishes very well. I have cut fretwork butterflies from 1/4″ thickness and fretwork crosses from 3/4″ thickness. The rainbow colored makes great butterflies. The only problem I have with this wood is I have to wash all the sawdust off my bare skin about every 30 minutes because it causes me to itch very much. This is the only wood I have used so far that has caused this problem.

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