Zebrawood is an exotic hardwood that grows primarily in the central regions of West Africa. It more specifically grows in the tropical rainforests of Gabon, Cameroon, and the Congo. It is a fast growing tree, and usually grows in pure stands. It can commonly be found growing along riverbanks and streams in inland rainforests as well as coastal areas. Due to its endangered status, zebrawood is becoming more difficult to find. Although reforesting is taking place, harvesting is still in progress.
Zebrawood has an interesting zebra-like appearance, with narrow alternating dark and light stripes. The colors typically range from black or dark brown stripes on a cream to golden-yellow background. It is a relatively heavy wood, averaging approximately 48 lbs/cu. ft. It has a moderately coarse texture with open pores, and a wavy to interlocked grain pattern. Zebrawood is rated very high for stiffness, toughness, crushing strength, and density characteristics. Although due to its low resistance to insects, zebrawood is not considered a very durable wood.
Zebrawood's alternating light and dark stripes produce alternating soft and hard material. This varying structure and density can create some woodworking problems when machining. Typically it saws easy with power machines and hand tools, but planing can become a problem due to tearing, especially with interlocked grain patterns. It turns well on a lathe to a nice smooth finish, especially if the tools are sharp. It is considered a very decorative wood and is used frequently for carvings. Also, it holds fasteners well, but pre-drilled holes are required. Sanding is not a problem, and zebrawood accepts most glue types readily. Paste wood filler should be used to fill the open pores prior to any stain or finish work. Zebrawood will accept most finishes well and can be polished to a high luster, but the use of paint is not recommended.
Zebrawood is a very interesting and beautiful wood, and is most often used for contrast with other woods. Its specific uses vary widely from fine furniture, furniture trim, cabinets, millwork, paneling, plus guitars and other string instruments. It is also used for skis, knife handles, stocks for handguns, platters and wooden ware. Due to its unique appearance, veneers, crossbandings, and inlays for marquetry are desirable. Also in demand are turned items such as bowls, fancy pens, and novelties.
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