Wenge (Millettia laurentii)
Wenge (Millettia laurentii)

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Common Name(s): Wenge

Scientific Name: Millettia laurentii

Distribution: Central Africa

Tree Size: 60-90 ft (18-27 m) tall, 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 54 lbs/ft3 (870 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .72, .87

Janka Hardness: 1,930 lbf (8,600 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 21,990 lbf/in2 (151.7 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 2,550,000 lbf/in2 (17.59 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 11,710 lbf/in2 (80.7 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.8%, Tangential: 8.1%, Volumetric: 12.9%, T/R Ratio: 1.7

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is medium brown, sometimes with a reddish or yellowish hue, with nearly black streaks. Upon application of a wood finish (particularly an oil finish) the wood can become nearly black.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight, with a very coarse texture. Low natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large to very large pores in no specific arrangement, very few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; dark brown mineral deposits occasionally present; medium rays not visible without lens, normal spacing; parenchyma vasicentric, confluent, with wide bands of parenchyma typically as thick as the pores.

Rot Resistance: Very durable, and resistant to termite attack.

Workability: Can be difficult to work with hand and machine tools. Blunts tool edges. Sands unevenly due to differences in density between light and dark areas. Very splintery—care must be used when handling unfinished wood with bare hands, as splinters have an increased risk of infection. Very large pores can be difficult to fill if a perfectly smooth/level finish is desired.

Odor: Wenge has a faint, slightly bitter scent when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon,  breathing Wenge wood dust has been reported to cause central nervous system effects, abdominal cramps, irritation of the skin and eyes, and is a sensitizer. Also, Wenge splinters tend to take longer to heal and  are more likely to go septic (get infected) than splinters from other woods. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Available in wide boards and veneer sheets. Prices are high, and are likely to remain so as supplies dwindle.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.

Common Uses: Veneer, paneling, furniture, turned objects, and musical instruments.

Comments: Usually pronounced WHEN-gii or WHEN-ghay, the wood has excellent strength and hardness properties, and is also dark enough to be used as a substitute for ebony.

Related Species:

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the turned photo of this wood species.

Wenge (sanded)
Wenge (sanded)
Wenge (sealed)
Wenge (sealed)
Wenge (endgrain)
Wenge (endgrain)
Wenge (endgrain 10x)
Wenge (endgrain 10x)
Wenge (turned)
Wenge (turned)
Wenge (bookmatched)
Wenge (bookmatched)

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HP King
HP King

Has anyone ever used this for decking? I’m in Seattle so we often have light rain. I found a great deal ($6/bf!) on some wenge at a building material recycling company.

Mike Grill
Mike Grill

Nooooo! Not sure if you are serious, but did you read the description above? Very splintery (note “septic” . Beautiful wood, but a deck would be just about the worst application for this.

scott
scott

G’DAY folks, ihave been using wenge for making 3/4 pool cues 26mm x 9.5mm x 1100mm, this is very challenging, i am turning it on a cnc machine with a home built lathe sitting on the bed. nearly getting to about a 70% success rate with them turning straight and staying straight , the sealing bit is just as challenging, what i have tried so far is wiping epoxy paste onto the shaft using a blade to force it into the pores, no good, wax ,no good, oil, no good, soaked in 2 pack timber preserver overnight, no good, sprayed… Read more »

jeff
jeff

Hi Scott, I would soak it in mineral spirits for an hour or so. The reason you’re having such trouble is that the oils in Wenge are what’s stopping your wood treatments. The mineral spirits or denatured alcohol will break those oils down and give you what you want. One other sort of fun thing is that if you soak it in bleach overnight you get a really cool grain demarcation, looks sort of like Zebra wood but much much nicer, the effect is one of great contrast which would be very cool in a pool cue. Jeff

Ob
Ob

To what Jeff said, this is true, I have used acetone myself. Try using a penetrating epoxy Seal afterward to stabilize .also urethane will form a good chemical bond to epoxy if applied within a certain time frame, check epoxy specks. Bob.

Steve
Steve

I use Wenge edge grain for cutting boards, and face grain for coasters. A pain to work with (splintering, uneven sanding sometimes etc), but I’ve had no problem with finishing. I use Osmo Top Oil (A German product that I buy from Windsor Plywood in Canada) and have great success. It is very thirsty, and a thin layer will soak in to the point I barely need to wipe off any excess. I then put two more coats on. I don’t have any feedback to use for long term results though yet.

Erin May
Erin May

One of my favorites to work with. I only make tables and wenge has been a great wood to use.

Matthew
Matthew

Hi there,

I am making a small cabinet using wenge and considering giving it a textured finish with a gouge. I have no experience of carving or using gouges but i am willing to give it a go…! Please could anyone offer me some advice on wether this is possible (or not!), i have read a few posts above regarding free hand carving and turning.

Your help would be greatly received!

Cheers,

Matthew

pios
pios

il est difficile de donner un poli parfait ,surtout pour une sculpture de petite dimention , quant à la sculpture “à main levée” je n’ai jamais pratiqué mais il faut des gouges parfaitement affutées et attention aux échardes et à la poussière qui est très allergisante.pour ma part j’ai réalisé des sculptures de grande dimensions pour lesquelles la finition était en rapport avec la dimension .

LARRY MEHAFFEY

I am a wildlife wood carver specializing in exotic hardwoods. Wenge is one of my favorite hardwoods to use. It is hard but very workable, with both hand tools and power tools. You can see several carvings created from Wenge on my website. LMwildlifecarving.com Good luck!

Jeff
Jeff

Nice wood carvings, I especially like the single Ram but all of your stuff is really nice. Here’s a link to a guy on youtube that also makes really cool stuff like yours. In this case it’s a cane with a mouse and a rattlesnake that are both carved but hyper realistic.

Mike Wardman
Mike Wardman

Hey Mathew, no advice on carving but I’d just like to say, and i would say this to all who work with endangered species, that whatever it is you’re making with wenge, please make it as beautiful and lasting as humanly possible. You really want that piece to last and be appreciated for all time. Its rarer than gold. Treat it well.?

K. Forest
K. Forest

I am making a relief carving of a wolf in a forest on a 2″x14″x2′ piece. It it now my favorite wood. But one carving takes about six-eight months. And lots of bits. No wonder I cannot find examples of such carvings anywhere.

Andrew Rolfe
Andrew Rolfe

I’m using Wenge for kitchen worktops, what is the best oil treatment to apply?

Benji
Benji

Hey hey

First of all very interesting information.

I’m making a sauna and have here wenge. Is it possible to use it for sauna seats?

Pekka Hilden
Pekka Hilden

Definitely not! The wood you are using for sauna seats should have low heat conductivity and therefore less dense woodtypes are typically used. In Finland (where the sauna is coming from) seats are nowadays built typically from heat treated aspen, obeche (abachi), alder etc. The point here is that these wood types heat up in the sauna but when you sit on them they do not burn. I’ll bet sauna seats made of wenge would burn your ass. In addition, if you are a frequent sauna user the seats are in heavy use and therefore I would use something cheaper… Read more »

Tom
Tom

Wonderful story Pekka!

Yves Van Assche

if you want to use wenge as a hammer handle … sand with 400 – 600 – 800 – 1200 grit …then make epoxy with 10% dilution and in vacuum so max penetration is obtained … then sand again to prevent splinters in future …
I use Voss Chemicals G4 for it an super strong varnish ..

Printable Calendar

why would wenge have a blond center similar to sap wood

Printable Calendar

Hey I’m trying to make a tabletop of 22?x30? how should I proceed to laminate 10 planks of 2? 1/2 x 32

JOHN BLAHUT
JOHN BLAHUT

CAN WENGE BE USED IN CUTTING BOARD

Jason Collett
Jason Collett

I was going to do this recently based upon seeing boards for sale, but was advised not to due to it having very open pores that can trap bacteria. There is also the question of toxicity since the dust can cause reactions and splinters are particularly painful and prone to infection, but proper finishing should stop that. If you do use it in a cutting board, don’t use it as end grain as this would expose the pores directly to food contact and increase the amount of bacterial infiltration

Brian
Brian

Yes

Joje
Joje

Any wood known to blunt tools quickly would not make good cutting boards. At least not if you are using quality knives you don’t want to mistreat. Wenge tends to be mineral rich and using it as a cutting board would be like cutting against sand paper.

Jeremy Leclerc
Jeremy Leclerc

Hey I’m trying to make a tabletop of 22″x30″ how should I proceed to laminate 10 planks of 2″ 1/2 x 32
I’ve heard I need to clean the edged with acétone and uses titebond 3 glue.

Angelika
Angelika

Hi!
Is there someone that are able to tell if this is Wenge or Pangapanga (or something else?)? This is varnished…

louis
louis

Its difficult to say but generally Wenge is darker than that when sealed so its more likely panga panga

Michael Wardman
Michael Wardman

Please use wenge, or any other endangered species sparingly and beautifully so it lasts through the ages. As it stands, it’s a finite resource.

EframGoldberg

I’ve noticed a variety of species note they are difficult to machine and dull cutters, but Wenge has given me the most problems so far. I dimensioned a 3X24X1 board to make a 3/8″ thick small box for a paid of dividers. Sawing it felt like the teeth would rather slide instead of digging in, and my plane irons required sharpening at least several times If this wood is going to be worked by hand, the workability and harpoon like spiinters should definitely be taken into account when planning a project.

Tim S
Tim S

How about wenge or panga panga for outside stems on a strip canoe? The curved stems typically consist of three laminated layers starting at 1/4″ x 7/8″ each. Finished product is ‘glassed. Will these exotics steam and bend?

Joshua Kuehn

I just put a block onto my CNC machine (Taig CR2019 converted to Arduino driven CNC) and milling machine (Grizzly G704) to cut a wedding ring box for my upcoming wedding and I am happy to report that wenge machines beautifully! Once I got everything set up proper, I was getting beautiful and consistent sized chips. It’s definitely my favorite wood so far to machine. Since I couldn’t find any feeds or speeds or general milling tips, I had to do some guess work and nearly ruined my first block. So to spread some knowledge, here’s what I found: I… Read more »

CP
CP

Thinking of using this as a single tread (more like a ‘kneeler’) in my bathroom at the tub. Can this be sanded and sealed well enough to protect barefoot children from the dreaded splinters?

jamie
jamie

Hi is this wenge

Tracey
Tracey

I’m just guessing, but it look like walnut sapwood to me

Louis
Louis

You would need better pictures to have a shot at IDing it but its definitely not Wenge. Completely the wrong color.

Jeff
Jeff

No that’s walnut, but it’s nice walnut.

Grumpy Pan
Grumpy Pan

Talk about splinters.. it sure will hurt someone if the fretboard edges isn’t rolled properly and buff to smooth. Tho 1 thing i like about this wood is the texture, color and durability compared to some fretboards. I include the picture of the neck we are currently doing 5 piece canadian maple with wenge stripes plus a wenge headstock plate. I told my guys to use carbon fiber rods on all necks for more stability, not that i do not trust maple/wenge combo, a 5 piece neck alone is good enough.. plus an extra muscle by putting a wenge fretboard… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff

Getting wenge splinters feels like getting shot. Do what ever you have to do to not experience a wenge splinter.

David White
David White

This is a beautiful, heavy, sturdy, very dark wood with striking streaks that are nearly black. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that it can tend to have some sort of white granular deposit in its open grain after sawing or planing. Which reminds me, I meant to look that up but never did. I had none of the allergic or irritant problems mentioned, but the splinters are very long, very sharp, very jagged, very painful, and very real. These are the kind that go in one place and come out another! I quickly learned not to run my fingers along the edges… Read more »

george A
george A

I find it to be a rather nasty wood to work with where the redeeming qualities of wenge do not overcome its characteristics.

Garth
Garth

Is Wenge and Ebony the same thing? If I order Wenge from a supplier will I get what I know to be Ebony?

Jim Zhu
Jim Zhu

This makes a good handmade slingshot.

Mark King
Mark King

Would it be possible to make a butcher block desk out of katalox and wenge wood ?

Ján Bakoš
Ján Bakoš

is it possible to use this wood as a building material for a house?

Ron L
Ron L

This is an exotic hardwood from Africa which is considered endangered and is usually very expensive. Most applications are small pieces. With that said, I just finished making a small counter top using this wood and it is gorgeous.

Kevin
Kevin

What did you finish it with? I have a piece that we are adding to a counter top.

Shane Walton
Shane Walton

Nothing better, in my opinion, than a wenge neck. Strong, beautiful, it sounds incredible and feels amazing!comment image

Juggernaut1969
Juggernaut1969

I use Wenge often in guitars I build often in the neck laminate or in the fret board. I find it to be easy enough to work with as long as you are aware that it will splinter on the edges and you can crack it if you try to bend it too much.
This is a bass I built where the neck and body are carved out of a single piece of Bubinga. I then glued a Wenge fret board to the neck.

Rob Paschall
Rob Paschall

can you get in contact with me on facebook about a wenge bass?

pios
pios

pour les petites pièces il existe un procédé qui améliore les qualités acoustiques du wengé , impregnation à l’huile puis passages très brefs au micro onde

matthew mclachlan
matthew mclachlan

I was looking at a few pieces of wenge & noticed how straight the grain is. Was wondering since I have been having trouble finding hickory in my area if making a hammer handle from wenge would be a good idea. Any thoughts? (Hammer would be for construction work so very hard on the hammer so any thoughts would be appreciated, if I should just save my money and search harder for some hickory :P

Mario Cargol
Mario Cargol

It would be nice looking but watch out with the splinters !!!

TownCalendars

Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, breathing Wenge wood dust has been reported to cause central nervous system effects, abdominal cramps, irritation of the skin and eyes, and is a sensitizer. Also, Wenge splinters tend to take longer to heal and are more likely to go septic (get infected) than splinters from other woods. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Astralan
Astralan

I am currently looking at an electric bass that has a neck of this material with a rosewood fretboard. Never seen anything like this and wondered how hardy it would be having strings putting stress on the wood?

2018 January

is it possible to use this wood as a building material for a house?

Louis
Louis

Wenge is an exotic hardwood and is exponentially more expensive than the type of woods used as building materials. The cost would be staggering.

Jeff
Jeff

I think so, if you’re exceptionally wealthy and at the same time foolish with your money. Beyond that us mere mortals will never be able to afford to build a house with it. Imagine wenge hard wood floors but at the same time imagine the excruciating pain of sliding along that floor and picking up a splinter in your foot. I got a large wenge splinter and it was so painful I couldn’t see, I had to use a razor to cut it out because I couldn’t see it and had to cut it out by feel. That’s what you… Read more »

CFU
CFU

why would wenge have a blond center similar to sap wood

treetard
treetard

The white color will disappear as the air gets to it. It’s common when the wood is cut from the log to see white color which fades with time.

JosephD
JosephD

Found that cracks easy if not careful when giving pressure from point to point on lathe

blair hohn
blair hohn

Wenge handle hand turned by Berkhouse Knifeworks

kevin love instagram

Looks amazing.

january calendar

looks dope.

Bernard TAILLEFER
Bernard TAILLEFER

Dans la province du Bandundu, village de Intswem Labwi sur la route d’Idiofa j’ai rencontré un jardinier qui utilise la fleur de l’arbre comme engrais naturel

Grey Wolf
Grey Wolf

Say what!!!!

clip art

Comments: Usually pronounced WHEN-gii or WHEN-ghay, the wood has excellent strength and hardness properties, and is also dark enough to be used as a substitute for ebony.

kevin love instagram

Crushing Strength: 11,710 lbf/in2 (80.7 MPa)

blank calendar

Odor: Wenge has a faint, slightly bitter scent when being worked.

blair hohn
blair hohn

Wenge handle hand turned by Berkhouse Knifeworks