Wenge vs. African Blackwood

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Forum topic by sikrap posted 09-02-2010 10:20 PM 4601 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1121 posts in 3354 days

09-02-2010 10:20 PM

I just went to a garage sale and the guy had some hardwoods for sale. He was trying to sell me some small pieces that looked like Wenge to me, but he insisted that its African Blackwood. Is this just another name for Wenge?

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

7 replies so far

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2833 days

#1 posted 09-03-2010 12:54 AM

Ask Div- he lives in South Africa. :)

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3069 days

#2 posted 09-03-2010 01:13 AM

Wenge and African black wood (AB) are quite different. Both are very dark but AB is darker. AB is black and Wenge is just a very dark brown. It is hard to see a grain in the heartwood of AB. Often AB has some visible sapwood and it is easier to see the grain in the sap wood. Wenge has a visible straight grain and I have never seen Wenge sapwood. Wenge is a little splintery to work with.

AB is very similar to Gabon Ebony. Without some visible sapwood from at least one of them, I cannot tell them apart.

AB will produce a beautiful shine without adding any finish. There is a little oil in the wood. Not true of Wenge.

Both are very hard woods, but AB is harder.

I have not purchased either in at least a year so I may be out of date, but I would expect to pay around $60+/BF for good AB. Good Wenge goes for about $20-$25/BF.

I love to turn AB. Wenge is not for turning.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View branch's profile


1142 posts in 3149 days

#3 posted 09-03-2010 01:50 AM

hi richgreer i get wenge here in Ireland i payed 80 euro for a piece it was 9 inches by 3 inch by 4 foot long i use it for segment turning i found it very hard to turn thought it was me because where i bought it the sell it for turning . what is ab never heard of it is it used for turning .


View mmh's profile


3676 posts in 3717 days

#4 posted 09-03-2010 02:34 AM

As richgreer states, Wenge has a splintery characteristic to it and has a very coarse grain, similar to that of oak, but of course, it’s MUCH harder and the color is a deep purplish chocolate brown, almost black. It has an interesting pattern for large pieces, but if you want a tight grain and silky finish, African Blackwood or Gaboon Ebony are much better for this.

The small piece of African Blackwood I have doesn’t seem to be as oily as Gaboon Ebony. The grain also seems to be ever so slightly more coarse than the Gaboon Ebony. But, I admit I have limited stock of AB and have not worked with it as I have GE.

So to answer your Q to ID your woods, check the coarseness of the grain and for best comparison go to a reputable wood supplier of exotic woods or a luthier supplier and they may beable to show you samples of these woods to compare.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3069 days

#5 posted 09-03-2010 03:57 AM

branch – It sounds like you got a great deal on Wenge. I doubt that your problems with turning were your fault. As a somewhat experienced turner, I say that Wenge is hard to turn.

AB is African Blackwood. It is a delight to turn.

Here is a tea candle holder that I turned with AB. Please note that it has no finish on it. You are looking at bare wood.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3354 days

#6 posted 09-03-2010 04:52 AM

Thanks everyone!! I apologize for not posting pics, but my camera sucks. Tomorrow I’m going to treat myself to a new one and will post a couple of pics. I can’t tell how splintery this stuff is, but I thought it looked identical to a Wenge board I have. The new camera will allow even me to actually take nice, crisp close-ups of things.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3683 days

#7 posted 09-03-2010 05:22 AM

Clearly different in color and grain patterns and so easy to “Google”

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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