Any ideas how to find Iron wood???

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Forum topic by patrick m posted 12-29-2007 07:19 PM 13734 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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patrick m

197 posts in 3838 days

12-29-2007 07:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question resource tip

!Was reading the post about traveling, and it reminded me of the Iron Wood I had brought back from jamaica.
I love this wood, I made a furniture mallet and box for a friend. It was so great to work with although super tough I truly enjoy working with it.. I think they stopped farming it. I do know they used to make sculpture mallets for years. Any one know how I can find some real iron wood, ‘the tropical’ kind? With dark and light contrasting colors.. thanks. Patrick picture attached iron wood mallet and ebony chisel handle

iron wood 4

-- PJM.`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸ ><((((º> ""BY HAMMER AND HAND ALL ARTS DO STAND""1785-1974 nyc Semper Fi, Patrick M

21 replies so far

View CaptnA's profile


116 posts in 3838 days

#1 posted 12-29-2007 07:48 PM

Lignum vitae there are at least two types. There is a local company that imports exotics from South Africa. I’ve gotten some iron wood from them. They are reasonable. Not sure about shipping – this is a dense heavy wood for the size.
If interested I can send you their link. Not making sales for them but I’ve been ecstatic about the wood I’ve gotten there. They are a very responsible company and people.
Actually being local is almost a problem – too easy to run out and see what they’ve gotten in lately and you HAVE to support a local wood supplier – right???
Your links took me to “page not found”.
What size piece(s) are you looking for?

-- CaptnA - "When someone hurts you, write it in the sand so the winds of forgiveness will scatter the memory... "

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patrick m

197 posts in 3838 days

#2 posted 12-29-2007 08:26 PM

Hey CaptnA I JUST NOW FIGURED OUT HOW TO ADD PHOTOS. I am extreamly interested in the links, to find myself some more iron wood. I love the stuff too. Sizes not to sure , would like to see what they have. Wow this would be very cool. I’ve been looking for some, 2X6X32 or smaller some turning blanks would be cool too. Thanks for the reply. I’ll try to send you some mail now. patrick.

-- PJM.`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸ ><((((º> ""BY HAMMER AND HAND ALL ARTS DO STAND""1785-1974 nyc Semper Fi, Patrick M

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4022 days

#3 posted 12-30-2007 07:01 AM

When I first looked at your post, I thought…aren’t there tons of woods called iron wood?

Here’s what wikipedia had on iron wood:

Any particular wood that has a reputation for hardness. Usage of the name may (or may not) include the tree that yields this wood. Species involved include:

  • Acacia estrophiolata – Southern ironwood
  • Androstachys johnsonii – Lebombo ironwood
  • Carpinus caroliniana – American hornbeam
  • Casuarina equisetifolia – Common ironwood from Australia
  • Chionanthus foveolatus – Pock ironwood from South Africa
  • Choricarpia subargentea
  • Copaifera spp.
  • Erythrophleum chlorostachys Cooktown ironwood from Australia.
  • Eusideroxylon zwageri – Borneo ironwood
  • Guaiacum officinale and G. sanctum – also known as Lignum vitae
  • Holodiscus discolor – Creambrush
  • Hopea odorata – White thingan, Ceylon or Malabar ironwood
  • Krugiodendron ferreum – Black Ironwood
  • Lyonothamnus lyonii or L. floribundus – Catalina ironwood
  • Mesua ferrea – also known as Rose chestnut or Ceylon ironwood
  • Nestegis apetala – Norfolk Island.
  • Olea spp. – various olive trees
  • Olneya tesota – Desert ironwood
  • Ostrya virginiana – Hop hornbeam
  • Parrotia persica – Persian ironwood
  • Tabebuia serratifolia – Yellow poui

Then I read that Jamaica’s tree is the lignum vitae, so I see where you guys are coming from!

Here’s a site that specializes in lignum vitae

here’s a list of suppliers - by state that are listed to have lignum vitae.

Also, I think that rockler and woodcraft stock it as turning blanks…so you may have some luck there with smaller chunks…I have a turning blank of it that I’m sitting on to make a plane out of at some point…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

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patrick m

197 posts in 3838 days

#4 posted 12-30-2007 01:55 PM

Guaiacum officinale and G. sanctum – also known as Lignum vitae .......... Lignum Vitea , I just thought that would be the one everyone thought of. Cause I know they had made sculpture mallets out of it for many years, Very cool all the types. Thank you. I did find a type of “iron wood” in connecticut I was so excited when I tracked it down near a marsh.. and boom it sucked. Very different species indeed…..

-- PJM.`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸ ><((((º> ""BY HAMMER AND HAND ALL ARTS DO STAND""1785-1974 nyc Semper Fi, Patrick M

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patrick m

197 posts in 3838 days

#5 posted 12-30-2007 01:58 PM

Thanks. good luck with the plane… Again if you like harder wood that endure anything, and are fun to work with, you’ll Love it… Better than the butter like ebony.. take care and say hi to seattle

-- PJM.`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸ ><((((º> ""BY HAMMER AND HAND ALL ARTS DO STAND""1785-1974 nyc Semper Fi, Patrick M

View BlueStingrayBoots's profile


852 posts in 4027 days

#6 posted 12-30-2007 11:03 PM

Theres a bunch of it in Sonora, Mexico. Along the border in Mexico theres novelty or suveneer shops and along the sidewalks there. I speak to the sellers of iron wood sculptures sometimes and they say there items are crafted in Sonora and brought to them for resale. Only once in a while though. Its not Texas Ebony but looks similar and is harder believe it or not kinda like slate.
Its also expensive, they obviously know what its worth. Lots of old timers or winter texans go there and buy it up soon as its available. I havnt had a chance at anything bigger than 8” in sculpture. Nothing in log form. Good luck!

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4425 days

#7 posted 12-30-2007 11:09 PM

BSRB: I think you are referring to Desert Ironwood. It’s illegal to cut down any living ironwood tree in the desert Southwest of the USA You are only allowed to take dead trees.

So people girtle the tree and wait for them to die.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

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patrick m

197 posts in 3838 days

#8 posted 12-30-2007 11:59 PM

Hey guys thanks!!! Seems there are a lot of species with the name the kind from jamaica lignum vitae . very different from desert iron wood… But thanks . I think I found it… You guys are great!

-- PJM.`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸ ><((((º> ""BY HAMMER AND HAND ALL ARTS DO STAND""1785-1974 nyc Semper Fi, Patrick M

View johnson2207's profile


1 post in 3744 days

#9 posted 03-21-2008 01:19 AM

I have around 500# of lignum vitae that’s only holding my floor down. One block is 300# and the other is around 200#, Slightly rectangular but more blocklike. the going rate is around 6$ a pound, but I’m looking to sell these for 3$ a pound. Anyone interested can email me at

View dialtoneplus's profile


22 posts in 3849 days

#10 posted 04-22-2008 03:13 PM

A few years ago, my Father-in-Law brought me some 4×4 pieces of wood that he called Ironwood. He was a Civil Service worker at Camp Stanly/Bullis for some 20 som years and said that he thought the wood was used to make cisterns in the calvary days. We later found out that the name of the wood was Boaisdark. I don’t know if the spelling is correct, but it is denser than water so it sinks, and is one of the hardest woods i have ever cut with a saw. I still have a piece 4×4x48” that i will do something with one of these days.

A few years ago i made some cutting boards out of it, only to find out that it dulls what ever knive you use to cut on it.

-- Jay, San Antonio, Texas - Making Sawdust Rocks!

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 3840 days

#11 posted 04-22-2008 03:47 PM

Thanks a lot guys. Now I’m lusting after a Lignum Vitae mallet. I need intervention.

-- Scott - Chico California

View gator9t9's profile


331 posts in 3729 days

#12 posted 04-22-2008 07:44 PM

Wow what an informative subject this is …I just found out about a wood supplier that also carries Plywoods …and he is near me ….Wow I say
Thanks to Patrick Miles for opening this subject and thanks to Dorje for the wonderful web sites he provided.
and thanks to all the other comments …

I think we need a new TAB at the top of LUMBERJOCKs Home Page …

That new tab would be ”WOOD”

and maybe we could take turns giving each other knowledge about a species….
Thanks all ..
Mike in Bonney Lake

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3739 days

#13 posted 04-22-2008 08:07 PM

gator… you know.. that’s not a bad idea at all…

patrick- that mallet looks similar to walnut with white sapwood…
Click for details

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10119 posts in 4077 days

#14 posted 04-22-2008 08:24 PM

I have heard IPE referred to as Iron Wood…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View flink's profile


94 posts in 3745 days

#15 posted 04-22-2008 08:42 PM

IPE (pronounced e-pay) – Also called Brazilian Walnut is the hardest most durable wood in the world. It has a Janka scale rating of 3684. It is also has a Fire Rating of “A”, which is the same rating given to steel and concrete. Damned good looking wood. Virtually indestructible. Needs no preservative exposed to weather for 50+ years. Wood eating /boring insects don’t like it. Great stuff for outdoor furniture. It also makes a wonder interior floor.

The Navy did testing of Ipe in Panama. After being buried for 15 years, there was no rot, no insect damage.

I also saw some show on HGTV where an entire house was sided in it. Absolutely beautiful.

-- Made lots of sawdust and pounded some nails. Haven't finished anything, though.

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