WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WOOD?
Jatoba, (Hymenaea courbaril) is well known in the trade as Brazilian Cherry. Jatoba or Courbaril is becoming well known as a first quality hardwood, and most notably as a desirable flooring material. Jatoba has a salmon-red to reddish-brown heartwood, often with some dark streaks as it ages. The sapwood is quite often white to gray resembling maple. Most manufactures remove the sapwood in production leaving only the heartwood visible. This species is found in Southern Mexico south to northern South America and even in the West Indies.
This tree is generally found on the ridges and slopes or high riverbanks of the region listed above. The grain is mostly interlocked with a medium texture sometimes becoming rather coarse. Jatoba is somewhat difficult to air dry. It will season rather rapidly with slight warping and checking. This species is somewhat difficult to mill, (sawing and machining) due to its high density. This is the reason Jatoba is valued for its use in the flooring industry. Jatoba is perfect for flooring applications because of its great shock resistance, not to mention its attractive appearance. This species is very resistant to rot as well as fungal and insect attack. Jatoba is rated as very durable.
Jatoba is also used for tool handles, turnery, furniture and cabinetwork. It has also been used for gear cogs, wheel rims and railroad crossties. It has been used for boat building, mostly where steam bending is needed. Even some logs are selected for highly decorative veneers mostly for architectural paneling or custom cabinetry. This species would also lend itself to the stair industry, producing not only a very durable, but also a beautiful product. We feel that the woodworker should get to know this species and use it when a durable, attractive wood is required. Even though there might be a slight blunting effect on cutters, Jatoba should be considered more often. With care and patience this species should be a very desirable addition to any woodworker’s pallet.
Cabreuva, (Myrocarpus frondosus), also known as Santos Mahogany and Incienso is another beneficial species of hardwood making a name for itself in the woodworking industry. This species is mostly yellowish brown to walnut brown with some yellow to orange hints and darker streaks making it a rather attractive product. Occasionally there are some pink to reddish highlights occurring which present a unique appeal.
Cabreuva, coming mostly from Brazil and south through Argentina, is very heavy and hard. With a specific gravity of .90 to 1.10 (air-dried) it is one of the most dense species used for flooring today. Usually the wood contains some ribbon grain, but the plain sawn material is equally attractive. This species is quite hard and rather difficult to mill. Being one of the most durable species around, Cabreuva will cause some blunting of cutters and saws. However, if caution is exercised, Cabreuva can be milled to a fine finish and polished to a high luster. We still don’t understand why Cabreuva is still overlooked by some flooring contractors. This species is durable, attractive, an excellent replacement for mahogany, or when an even light brown color is desired. Of all the woodworkers we know that have used this species, we have yet to have any negative reactions, only the highest praise and gratitude of their customers. Cabreuva is also used for cross ties, tool handles, veneer and plywood applications.
We feel that the woodworker today needs to know about this species. Used for fine cabinetry, doors, flooring and stair parts, Cabreuva is a wonderful addition to the quality craftsman’s library.
Both of these species are available in 4/4 through 8/4, with some thicker material on occasion. We urge all woodworkers to consider these species when durability and beauty are the primary requirement.