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Identifying Genuine Ceylon (East Indian) Satinwood

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Forum topic by Lenny posted 10-31-2017 10:13 PM 1289 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lenny

1578 posts in 3366 days


10-31-2017 10:13 PM

I’m wondering if anyone has expertise or experience regarding Ceylon (East Indian) satinwood. I am seeking to make a period correct replica of an item and it calls for satinwood. My research has taught me that several species of wood are sold as satinwood but are not the genuine article. Yellowheart, movingui and pyinma are some examples. True eastern satinwood, per the Wood Database, is grown in Central and Southern India as well as Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon).

The Wood Database is replete with good information on how to identify satinwood versus the other woods named but has left me uncertain.

After sharing my research with a lumber entity, the seller told me he bought some Ceylon satinwood from a vendor about 10 years ago and he felt confident it was genuine. I took a chance and bought a board. It arrived today and I am struggling to determine if it is indeed satinwood. Some years ago I made my one purchase of yellowheart. I got it at my local lumberyard. What I remember about it is the distinct, bold yellow color and (to me) the pleasant aroma in the shop as I worked it. It had a spicy scent to it. The board I received today has both those characteristics. The Wood database states that yellowheart will have an unpleasant odor while satinwood will have a faint pleasant one. Also, I viewed the endgrain through a 10x magnifying glass and it sure resembles the images on the database.

So, endgrain-wise, it looks good for me. Aroma-wise, same thing. Color wise, I’m not so certain. Does anyone have any advice, tips, thoughts that might be helpful? Thank you.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI


14 replies so far

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LiveEdge

565 posts in 1460 days


#1 posted 11-01-2017 12:19 AM

Color is the least dependable variable for a wood. Lots of variation exists for most woods. The endgrain is the most sensitive and specific. If you are confident from the endgrain then I’d go with it. From the pictures on Wood-Database the two should be fairly easy to distinguish (yellowheart vs. Ceylon Satinwood).

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Lenny

1578 posts in 3366 days


#2 posted 11-01-2017 10:43 AM

Thank you LiveEdge.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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Woodwrecker

4101 posts in 3415 days


#3 posted 11-01-2017 01:33 PM

I gotta go with what Liveedge says Lenny.

Not having worked with Satinwood.

But I do know one thing; whatever it is you are going to make will come out nice!

peace

-- Eric, central Florida / Utor praemia operibus duris

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Lenny

1578 posts in 3366 days


#4 posted 11-01-2017 02:30 PM

You are too kind. Thanks Eric.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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Lenny

1578 posts in 3366 days


#5 posted 11-03-2017 10:31 AM

I’m quite certain the board I bought is yellowheart. I visited my local hardwood lumber yard with a section of the board I had purchased in hand. I sought to compare it to a yellowheart board. With the yellowheart being rough and waxed on the ends, I could not make a good comparison. I tried scraping a board with a key to try to detect an aroma but that too wasn’t very effective. I bought a short length and brought it home. I ran a face through my jointer and voila, it is essentially identical to the board I bought as satinwood. I sliced the endgrain the thickness of the blade and sure enough, the endgrains of both boards look identical. (See photos)

I shared all this with the seller and in short, he did right by me. While I don’t really need yellowheart, I decided I would keep it versus the hassle of a return. The seller refunded me the difference in cost times two! That comes to only $15.00 but I appreciate him working with me on it.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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TopamaxSurvivor

18092 posts in 3515 days


#6 posted 11-03-2017 04:14 PM

Lenny, Does the search for satinwood continue or are you using yellowheart?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Lenny

1578 posts in 3366 days


#7 posted 11-03-2017 04:20 PM

The search continues Bob.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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LiveEdge

565 posts in 1460 days


#8 posted 11-03-2017 04:31 PM

Hobbithouse has an excellent page on Satinwood. It might go beyond Wood Database.

http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/satinwood.htm

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Lenny

1578 posts in 3366 days


#9 posted 11-03-2017 04:59 PM

Thanks LiveEdge. I had seen that page and forgot about it. It does have in-depth information on satinwood. Now I just need some sources for where to get some.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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TopamaxSurvivor

18092 posts in 3515 days


#10 posted 11-05-2017 05:23 AM

Lenny, I got curious and searched a little. Every dealer that popped up listed rare as availability ;-(

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Lenny

1578 posts in 3366 days


#11 posted 11-05-2017 04:55 PM

Bob, I actually know one place that has it. The problem is, I need a tiny amount (for stringing/edging) and they have one honking piece of 8/4 stock that will cost in excess of $200.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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TopamaxSurvivor

18092 posts in 3515 days


#12 posted 11-05-2017 08:16 PM

Sounds like this will be a spendy edge! ;-( How many bdft for $200?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Lenny

1578 posts in 3366 days


#13 posted 11-05-2017 09:45 PM

I don’t recall. I just remember it was a pretty big board and 8/4 thick.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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Lenny

1578 posts in 3366 days


#14 posted 11-17-2017 10:48 AM

Two updates: First, the seller of the board I bought sent a sample of one he still has out for identification. Result: yellowheart. Secondly, and definitely more importantly, I now own some genuine satinwood! Via general search, I found a place in Frederick, MD called, Exotic Lumber. Online, they indicated they had a West Indian satinwood board available. When I called, I said I wished to confirm they still had it. The woman said they had a few pieces of satinwood and asked how much I wanted. I said, “As little as possible.” I ended up buying a dimensioned board: 3/4”x5-1/2”x38-1/4” or 1.47 bd ft.

You may notice I said West Indian satinwood. The writer of the Wood Database states there are only two genuine satinwoods, East Indian (Ceylon) and West Indian. I thought the “Indian” part of West Indian referred to India, the country. It turns out it refers to the geographical area, West Indies, which is essentially, the Caribbean. I believe it is specifically Jamaica since it is also referred to as Jamaican satinwood.

So there you have it, more than you ever wanted to know about satinwood!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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