Zebrawood (Microberlinia brazzavillensis)
Zebrawood (Microberlinia brazzavillensis)

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Common Name(s): Zebrawood, Zebrano

Scientific Name: Microberlinia brazzavillensis

Distribution: West Africa

Tree Size: 65-130 ft (20-40 m) tall, 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 50 lbs/ft3 (805 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .67, .81

Janka Hardness: 1,830 lbf (8,160 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 17,800 lbf/in2 (122.8 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 2,374,000 lbf/in2 (16.37 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 9,210 lbf/in2 (63.5 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 7.6%, Tangential: 10.8%, Volumetric: 17.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.4

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light brown or cream color with dark blackish brown streaks vaguely resembling a zebra’s stripes. Depending on whether the wood is flatsawn or quartersawn, the stripes can be either chaotic and wavy (flatsawn), or somewhat uniform (quartersawn).

Grain/Texture: Has a fairly coarse texture and open pores. Grain is usually wavy or interlocked.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large to very large pores in no specific arrangement, few to very few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; heartwood deposits (brown) occasionally present; narrow rays not visible without lens, normal to close spacing; parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates, unilateral, vasicentric, winged, lozenge, and confluent, and banded (marginal).

Rot Resistance: Heartwood is rated as durable and is also resistant to insect damage.

Workability: The wood saws well, but can be very difficult to plane or surface due to the prevalence of interlocking grain. Tearout is common. Zebrawood glues and finishes well, though a transparent pore filler may be necessary for the large open pores which occur on both dark and light surfaces.

Odor: Has a characteristic, unpleasant smell when being worked.

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

Pricing/Availability: Zebrawood tends to be fairly expensive, though usually not as prohibitively expensive as other exotics such as Ebony or Rosewood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range. (A closely-related, lesser-used species in Cameroon, Microberlinia bisulcata, is also listed as critically endangered.)

Common Uses: Zebrawood is frequently quartersawn and used as veneer. Other uses include: tool handles, furniture, boatbuilding, and skis.

Comments: Sometimes called Zebrano, the wood is strong and stiff, with a fairly high density. However, the wood is much more frequently used for its bold and unique striping.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

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

Zebrawood (sanded)
Zebrawood (sanded)

Zebrawood (sealed)
Zebrawood (sealed)

Zebrawood (endgrain 10x)
Zebrawood (endgrain 10x)

Zebrawood (turned)
Zebrawood (turned)

Zebrawood and Chechen (book)
Zebrawood and Chechen (Bible)

Zebrawood (19" x 6.9")
Zebrawood (19″ x 6.9″)
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I’d love to grow a pair of trees in the Oregon valley. Any recommendations on credible sources for seeds it starts?

Bill Rademaker

Greeting from the Central Canada Tundra! I just completed this brown bear finished with Tru Oil. He is 8″L x 5″H x 3″W. Zebrawood is a pleasure to rotary-carve with. It does not burn like Purpleheart or Bubinga and the grain is outstanding from most of the board. Thanks for all the work you do to help us users of exotic and rare woods!

Zebra Bear 1.JPG
Last edited 7 months ago by Bill Rademaker

I’ve started work on a “Zebrawood” guitar kit (https://www.badcatinstruments.com/guitar-kit/p/electric-guitar-kit-solid-zebrawood-builder-kit-sg-style) and was hoping someone could take a look to see if it is, in fact, Microberlinia brazzavillensis (from what they’ve seen) or a different species (I’ve read through the wikipedia article as well explaining some of the alternative species). It’s super dense & has some relatively open pores but before I started grain filling/sealing I was hoping to get a confirmation of what I was working with. My plan is to go with a clear grain filler & do a sunburst stain over that, and I’ve gotten a couple blanks as… Read more »

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Ah k, thanks for the confirmation.

Bob Smith

Be careful…there are tons of guitar necks and bodies on Ebay, for example, coming out of China that are absolutely NOT zebrawood, but are painted/manipulated to resemble it–in a very exaggerated way. That is the stripes are too solid black, too bold etc. The real deal will look a lot more subtle and naturally variable than that guitar blank.


I have put together a Bad Cat “zebrawood” guitar as well, upon further research into it I found that it is made of bakelite and is not wood at all. I wasn’t too mad about it as their website does actually list it as being made of bakelite and I did find this out before my purchase.


A low stool

Charles Sandner

Very Nice!

Peter J Carter

Does anybody else is eyes get irritated while cutting zebrano?


A turned platter from zebrawood.

Kathleen Daly

How best to clean zebra wood?

Mr Saul Hudson

Here Zebrawood is used to good effect In the back and sides of a Dowina Marus acoustic guitar.

Jorn Haga

HAve you noticed what aspects zebrawood add to the overall tonality?

Saul Hudson

I would say no. The back and sides of the guitar I mentioned are laminated so I think they add very little if anything to the tone. It is more of an aesthetic thing. It just looks great :)

Dana Hopkins

They aren’t kidding when they talk about a characteristic unpleasant odor. Brings to mind a cat box that should have been changed a week ago.



Firstly, thanks for such an informative website.

I’m making a knife handle out of unstabilised zebrano and wondering how to finish it.

Any recommendations for a sealant etc would be much appreciated.




bought some zebrawood from rockler to use for a box. came to me warped. how to flatten without trying to resurface with jointer or planer?


A belt sander (or bench sander) with a course grit.


I’ve had too many experiences with warped woods from Rocker. Won’t order from them anymore.


Little late now, but next time send it back for a nicer piece. You shouldn’t have to mill a board that much when you buy it from a place like Rockler or Woodcraft. If it’s warped slightly, you can wet a towel and lay it on the concave side for an hour or so.


I have a piece of Zebrawood 1 3/8 ^2 x 51 inch. There are two crossgrain ‘fractures’ that don’t go all the way through. Is this common in this wood? Do you think the strength of the wood is seriously compromised? Would there be any benefit in putting hot, thinned hide glue into the fracture? In use the wood will be horizontal and weighted 35lbs at each end, supported in the middle. I feel that may be ideal conditions if i wanted it to break, which alas, I don’t.


Thank you for your response, and thoughts. Sometimes just explaining something to someone is enough to reveal to one the answer that is already known. The fractures were enough of a concern that the only right thing to do was to cut another piece from the original slab that doesn’t have fractures. Which I did. Now the whole thing is put together, and it was the only right choice. I then cut the other piece up at the fractures, and will use them in some other project.


The cross grain fracture is caused when they are felling the tree. These trees are quite tall and when they fall it stresses the tree causing these cross grain fractures. This is quite common in these dense hard wood tress.

Sarah Howell

I have a slice of this zebrano wood out of which I would like to make a kitchen work top saver. Cutting vege or bread. Can i ask everyone’s opinions please. I also have another question for you knowledgeable people, Nyatta hardwood, I got my dad a new bench for his birthday, advertised as Nyatta. But I can’t find it on any wood data base. Help please in identifying this woods origin and future care. Many thanks Sarah.https://www.gardensandhomesdirect.co.uk/balmoral-hardwood-companion-garden-bench.html


This wood is very beautiful, it is used for many workmanships, in Europe also for fashion accessories.
The important thing is to preserve the natural forests, and to buy it only from areas of cultivation of wood!


Wow, Very Cool!


This true. My piece of zebra came from the Rocker Wood working store scrap bin.

Jorn Haga

That’s a mighty fine watch you have there.

Reese O'Toole

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Just got this supposed Zebrawood watch, made by Joycoast. Do you think this is genuine Zebrawood? Either way – it is definitely real wood, lightweight, and unique.

Jess Louwagie

Im wondering if anyone has advice for repairing or restoring zebrawood with water damage. Love this table, but over time and a recent leak has been damaged. Hoping it can be repaired

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Jess Louwagie

Thanks for that analysis and explanation. I believe it is veneer so I think I will follow my gut and get a professional involved :)

John House

Front & Back of REAL Zebrawood SG Style (With matching pickguard from the area on the plank no less, matches pattern.)made for me by a Chinese Company i Don’t know if I can mention them or not… I’ll place the bridge myself. It’s unfinished… I’ll sand & seal it, toss in 3HHH 4DPDT & a 6way switch… then i’ll turn it up to 11.

John House

The pores were very pronounced upon cleaning. We were talking about filling and what-knot….
I suppose I should tell people “It’s made of ‘Not Zebrawood’…”
Yea. …that will sell really well….
Especially when they ask “How knotty is it, duh-huh…”
I’ll send them this way for further explaination.

David Winograsky

I would bet my entire wood stash… That is not “real” zeberawood. I have handled thousands of board feet of the stuff. That is defiantly some kind of dyed laminated man made product. Probably made from layers of birch or something similar.

Phil Terrell

Wouldn’t birch laminate be significantly heavier? These bodies are comparable in weight to ash and alder. And zebrano is less expensive than sitka spruce and wenge and mahogany. And mahogany is standard even in cheap Chinese Epiphones. I don’t see why the assumption would be that this is NOT zebra wood. Especially since this is China we’re talking about. China doesn’t care what you import and they don’t care about sustainable forestry. And they pay lumberjacks less than $10 a day.


Can anyone identify this wood type? I was told it was zebrawood but its clearly not. Orange stripes on dark dense wood. Cheers


Hi I think your right ,some type of fake plastic -acrylic maybe. I was told it was real wood. One piece no joint


I just did sand in a spot and its definitly real wood. Im getting wood dust for sure. Does Not have the dog smell of zebrawood tho. Very cool wood!

Locutus Borg

You, sir, have a member of the brachystecia family. Which one in particular, I can’t tell without a better res picture. I’m inclined to say zebrano (which, contrary to what this site says, is not the same wood even though it is routinely marketed as zebrawood), but I can’t be certain.

It’s a fine piece, whatever type it is. You’ve got quite the find.

David Hall

The term zebra wood has been used for three different species. Check on wikipidia

GM Reszel

It’s a beautifully dyed piece of plywood. Looks fantastic!


My custom made Zebra wood horse bow from Attila’s Archery.


I just found some zebra wood scales in an old box and it has a slight bow in it. What is the best way to straighten the scales before I start my next knife


try Hardwood Lumber & Millwork in Lakeland, FL

Michael Bailey

Just used some of this for a knife project…sands well and I don’t mind the open pores. Coated with wipe-on poly:

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James Foley

I am also using zebrawood scales for a knife handle. Now that I see yours, I will have to be patient and do it right. I do not want to rush and ruin it. Did you use linseed oil on it? I sometimes use a clear acrylic on handles, but for this blade linseed oil may be what I will use.

Michael Bailey

I used Minwax Wipe-on Poly in clear satin. Just wiped it on about 10+times, (not really paying attention to the directions) every couple hours if it seemed dry enough. Used a cotton swab for the nooks and crannies, and just kept the rag in a ziploc bag. Worked out really well, although I’m sure you could use linseed or tung oil. I just wanted a little more water resistance, and the poly goes on in such thin coats it really brings out the wood grain. Good luck with your knife project!

Jamie welsh

I make handcrafted cajons. The look of this wood gives a great contrast
to a lot of other woods. I like to use this wood for the head of the
drum. The head of these drums are planed down to 1/8″ thick. It does
tear out badly! Usually at the ends. I have also made a full body cajon
of this wood. The sound quality of this drum is amazing. I really like
this wood.


Can someone help me, I am looking for a good wood filler for Zebra Wood.
I enjoy making things from this lumber, but find that after much time
of sanding the end grain holds a pore finish, any brand or store that
sells wood filler and finish for Zebra Wood be great thanks

Jorn Haga

Epoxy would work, no?

Jorn Haga

I used it on some Mesquite I was working on as a test. One was a five minute, the other some T88 by System Three it works almost too well. The T88 is designed for oily woods and is my go to for stuff like cocobolo and Ebony. It has around an hour and a half set time. So you can do quite a lot of a piece in that time. To fill grain. The five minute, I would t do more than a 3”-4” square at a time. I had to use a little more force to make sure… Read more »

Mark Pope

Epoxy goes yellow and cracks with age like polyurethane, no?

Jamie welsh

I make handcrafted cajons. The look of this wood gives a great contrast to a lot of other woods. I like to use this wood for the head of the drum. The head of these drums are planed down to 1/8″ thick. It does tear out badly! Usually at the ends. I have also made a full body cajon of this wood. The sound quality of this drum is amazing. I really like this wood.


Zebrawood is dense, hard, and beautiful. It doesn’t need to be heavily finished for the grain to dazzle. I have made few things with it, but nothing too great. I do have a friend who has been making wood sunglasses out of zebrawood for sometime now. He says it is the perfect wood because it is so hard… he’s been trying to get me to buy a pair from him


Recently built a table with zebrawood inlay. This required a large amount of sanding. Halfway through I developed a severe hayfever like allergy and could not wor for 2 days despite wearing a dusk mask.

Corey Jean

Built a 63 foot bar top for a restaurant in Madison WI out of Zebrawood. Throughout the process of sanding, cutting, etc… a lot of people around the bar top had bad allergic reactions to the dust and shavings. I was sick for a week


Can someone help me, I am looking for a good wood filler for Zebra Wood. I enjoy making things from this lumber, but find that after much time of sanding the end grain holds a pore finish, any brand or store that sells wood filler and finish for Zebra Wood be great thanks

George Kinketh

Hi sir ,
i wish just to know if the wood zebrano is found in cameroon . if possible where in cameroon in which part o the country.