Cumaru (Dipteryx odorata)
Cumaru (Dipteryx odorata)

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Common Name(s): Cumaru, Brazilian Teak

Scientific Name: Dipteryx odorata

Distribution: Northern South America

Tree Size: 130-160 ft (40-50 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 68 lbs/ft3 (1,085 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .86, 1.09

Janka Hardness: 3,330 lbf (14,800 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 25,390 lbf/in2 (175.1 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 3,237,000 lbf/in2 (22.33 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 13,850 lbf/in2 (95.5 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 5.3%, Tangential: 7.7%, Volumetric: 12.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.5

Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be a medium to dark brown, sometimes with a reddish or purplish hue; some pieces may have streaks of yellowish or greenish brown.

Grain/Texture: Grain is interlocked, with a medium texture and a waxy feel.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; solitary and radial multiples; large pores in no specific arrangement, few; heartwood mineral/gum deposits present; parenchyma lozenge, aliform, confluent, and sometimes marginal; narrow rays, spacing fairly close.

Rot Resistance: Cumaru has excellent durability and weathering properties. The wood is rated as very durable regarding decay resistance, with good resistance to termites and other dry-wood borers.

Workability: Tends to be difficult to work on account of its density and interlocked grain. If the grain is not too interlocked, Cumaru can be surface-planed to a smooth finish. However, the wood contains silica and will have a moderate blunting effect on tool cutters. Due to its high oil content and density, Cumaru can present difficulties in gluing, and pre-boring is necessary when screwing or nailing the wood.

Odor: Cumaru has a faint, vanilla or cinnamon-like odor 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 Cumaru. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Should be inexpensive for an import. Cumaru, much like Jatoba, represents a great value for those seeking a low-cost lumber that has excellent strength and hardness properties.

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

Common Uses: Flooring, cabinetry, furniture, heavy construction, docks, railroad ties, bearings, handles, and other turned objects.

Comments: Wood of the species Dipteryx odorata is most commonly called Cumaru among most woodworkers, though it is sometimes referred to as Brazilian Teak as well: primarily when used as hardwood flooring. (Brazilian Teak is not related to the wood that is most commonly called Teak, Tectona grandis.)

Cumaru is also called by the name Tonka Bean, and the tree is commonly cultivated for its vanilla-cinnamon scented seed—the tonka bean—which contains a chemical compound called coumarin.

Cumaru lumber is extremely stiff, strong, and hard, lending itself well to a variety of applications. It is sometimes used in place of the much more scarce Lignum Vitae.

The heartwood fluoresces under a blacklight, which can help distinguish it from Ipe.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures:

Cumaru (sanded)
Cumaru (sanded)
Cumaru (sealed)
Cumaru (sealed)
Cumaru (endgrain)
Cumaru (endgrain)
Cumaru (endgrain 10x)
Cumaru (endgrain 10x)

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Arun Kumar
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Arun Kumar

I’m from North America and was looking for a teak wood alternative to make a swing 5×2 for an indian style swing (oonjal). Went to a local lumber yard and since its crazy expensive to buy a single piece of this size, the owner convinced me that he could join a few pieces to get my needed size. The end product was beautiful and he even planned and sanded the piece for me. I do remember he mentioned that it came from a Brazilian source. It was sitting in my sun room for about 2 yrs and I finally was… Read more »

Nita
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Nita

How well does this wood hold up in extreme heat climates, like Las Vegas, NV. We are doing a sidewalk renovation and were looking at benches that had this type wood for seating but not sure of the durability in extreme heat climates.

Chris Taramasco
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Chris Taramasco

Have a cumaru outside deck. After pressure washing what oil can be used? Have used Ipe oil, anything less costly?

Morty Smith
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Morty Smith

Several years ago, using rejected Cumaru floor boards, I made a 10′ elliptical table top for our (UU) church conference room. The colors ranged from almost blond to almost black It’s held up quite well.

Richard
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Richard

I’m interested in building my mailbox post.out of Cumaru as I really want something different than treated pine.
Does anyone have any experience with this species concerning ground contact? I will have to bury the post at least 28″ to get below the frost line.

Caleb
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Caleb

I bought a pice and it’s color is closer to oak than ipe is this normal

Miko
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Miko

Any advantages to sealing? What sealant can I use?

Steve
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Steve

This wood can no longer be cut in Costa Rica. The seeds feed the macaws and provide nesting sites. The trees are a habitat to 1000s of creatures. I have worked with this wood over the years. Used for structural beams and flooring. It doesn’t like water. Will go black if not sealed. I have seem termites attack it. Some workers are allergic to it. Over exposure can bring on allergic reactions. The best wood comes from the east coast. West coast is softer and not the same quality. Why they call it Brazilian teak is beyond me. Nothing close… Read more »

Frank
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Frank

Hey Steve! I’m in Costa Rica, the species you talk about is locally known as Almendro, which is slightly different to this one and its scientific name is Dipteryx Panamensis. I, for one, would absolutely love to plant one of these, but I doubt it would grow this far from the coast (Moravia). I agree the comparison to Teak is absurd, as Almendro is easily twice as hard and quite a bit heavier, plus it’s richer in color and an absolute pain to work, I get some mean tearout when trying to plane it even with new sharp blades. It’s… Read more »

Laurynas
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Laurynas

I have this dark cumaru, and It’s very hard wood, and have very hard and sharp splinters. Not a pleasure to work with, but looks amazing. Chech this pattern

Panatrees Inc
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Panatrees Inc

We supply Cumaru in round logs and squared logs

Leonardo Silva Tapia
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Leonardo Silva Tapia

just to add some data, Cumaru is also called “Almendrillo” here in South America, I bought it by that name and thanks to this site I knew it was also called Cumaru.

Kyokahn
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Kyokahn

Hi there, for you or anyone else interested, cumaru isn’t exactly the same as Almendrillo (almendro), which is actually Dipteryx Panamensis growing from the south of Nicaragua to Colombia. Almendro tends to have darker grain and growth rings, and seems a bit less oily, at least in the pieces I’ve had my paws on. Hardness should be quite similar (my table saw doesn’t appreciate cutting 8/4 of it in 1 pass) but workability seems reasonable. It makes crazy sharp splinters and crazy fine dust that smells like vanilla and dry cacao. I’ll try to send information to complete the page… Read more »

Leonardo Silva Tapia
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Leonardo Silva Tapia

really interesting, the place where I buy this wood they call it “almendrillo” the people who work there, in the online page they refer to it as “Cumaru”

I’ve had pieces with the vanilla/cacao scent and some others with a more cinnamon scent.

rememember also this is a wood rax that sells american oak and ash under the name of “american oak”

sometimes is very confusing, I also got another wood rax that have “Jatoba” named “Paquio” as well.

Kyokahn
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Kyokahn

Hahah, here in Costa Rica, Jatoba is called “Guapinol”. I’ve found most of them don’t really care for these amazing species they have, cause they stock them as “semi-hard” lumbers and they’re more often used for construction and beams… such a waste… they do know teak, which is plantation grown here (sucks for the environment), pine (from Chile) and laurel (horrible stuff). Furniture is ironically mostly made out of pine here, where the best woods grow, it’s also common to see spanish cedar and monkeypod, sold as just “normal wood”. Odd markets we have.

Mark
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Mark

Some years ago, I somehow got a sample piece of cumaru flooring and it sat in a corner for a while. This last week I cut and stacked some rounds from it to turn on my lathe the result was quite interesting to look at. This is one wood that I think I would like to play with some more if I can afford to.

martin
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martin

Hello from Berlin, Germany, I wanted to simply express my gratitude for this site being available. Last winter I found over two dozen pieces, ( 38 cm in Length)that looked to be old stairtreads, (Fluted on both sides), in the back of the building where I have my studio. Some were used to support pallets of metal scraps. I thought they were Teak and salvadged them and let them sit inside for over four months. I was amazed, with the exception of some cracks and the natural greying, the wood had not decayed at all and had only a few… Read more »

Carl
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Carl

Do you need to put felt pads on chair legs? Will this wood dent or dimple from a wheel rolling office chair?

Dan
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Dan

I understand Cumaru to be Class 1 fire rated, as is IPE. That’s the same as steel and concrete.

ehab
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ehab

is this wood fire resistant, if so for how many hours