Common Name(s): Obeche, ayous
Scientific Name: Triplochiton scleroxylon
Distribution: Tropical West Africa
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 24 lbs/ft3 (380 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .32, .38
Janka Hardness: 430 lbf (1,910 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 8,820 lbf/in2 (60.8 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 970,000 lbf/in2 (6.69 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 4,250 lbf/in2 (29.3 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 3.1%, Tangential: 5.3%, Volumetric: 8.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.7
Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be a pale yellow, with the sapwood not clearly differentiated from the heartwood. Colors darken slightly with age.
Grain/Texture: Grain is interlocked, with a medium to coarse texture and good natural luster.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; solitary and radial multiples; very large pores in no specific arrangement, very few; parenchyma vasicentric, diffuse-in-aggregates; narrow to wide rays, spacing normal.
Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable; poor insect resistance and liable to fungal staining and discoloration if not dried promptly.
Workability: Generally easy to work, though the interlocked grain can cause some rough surfaces in some machining operations. Carves, stains, glues, and finishes well.
Odor: Has a strongly unpleasant odor when green, which mostly disappears once dried.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Obeche has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation, as well as runny nose, sneezing, hives, and asthma-like symptoms. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Lumber is sometimes available, though it’s primarily exported as veneer or plywood. Obeche is relatively inexpensive for an imported hardwood.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.
Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, carvings, furniture, and interior millwork.
Comments: This African hardwood is very soft and lightweight, but has a decent strength-to-weight ratio. It’s fairly stable in service, and its bland grain patterns are frequently stained a darker color.
Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the wood sample of this wood species.
I was looking for the name of the wood in a sauna once – and I found it on your site. Kudos; bookmarked for future reference
Excellent summary from the wood Database and interesting comments. My extensive research for a through double neck 6/12 string guitar I plan to build, has revealed the following about Obeche but I have not played a guitar made of Obeche myself. Once dry, Obeche is exceptionally stable and was used on the solid bodies of Burns in the 1960s, Shergold/Hayman of the 70s and 80s and most recently on the TV Jones Model 10 and PRS Mira X and Starla X guitars. Also in the Martin CF1 and CF2 archtops with braced, Spruce / Obeche 3 ply tops. Obeche possesses exceptional… Read more »
The color-dyed and laminated brand called Colorply (I think manufactured in Italy) is made from African Obeche. Here’s a throw-top made from the stuff.
Excellent as bench seating in sauna. Used over 25 years with no rot, staining or discolouration. Key feature is that it feels relatively cool to the skin even when the sauna is cranked hot. Better than cedar or pine in this regard although cedar is first choice for sauna walls and ceiling.
I used to it for building sailing dinghy centreboards and rudders. They would be fibreglass sheathed (8oz and polyester resin). Chosen because it is easily worked, stiff for its weight and the resin adhesion is good.
Used by Paul Reed Smith Guitars Private Stock Department as bodywood with a quilted or flamed Maple top glued on it. It sounds similar to Mahogany although a little bit brighter.
used in tesla dashboards
Obeche = Wawa = samba
Lightweight, strong wood with minimal knots. Used for frame construction of racing boats (hydroplanes) because of strength/light weight/straightness. Can be a minor irritant when milling/sanding – recommend using a respirator/mask.