Just curious, what is the RAREST wood you've ever worked with?

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Forum topic by Ted posted 12-04-2012 05:13 AM 2993 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2758 posts in 1459 days

12-04-2012 05:13 AM

I’m a beginner with woodworking, so hoping to learn a little (or a lot) more about the less common woods use in the craft. So what is the rarest wood you have ever worked with? Please elaborate… how did you come across it, how workable is it, what did you use it for… and a photo or 2 if you have it. This inquiring mind wants to know. :)

-- The first cordless tool was a stick. The first power tool was a rock.

20 replies so far

View vonhagen's profile


528 posts in 1612 days

#1 posted 12-04-2012 07:16 AM


-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View madts's profile


1612 posts in 1587 days

#2 posted 12-04-2012 07:48 AM

The one I do not have!

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4166 posts in 2104 days

#3 posted 12-04-2012 08:51 AM

Mopane is the rarest I’ve worked

The mopane or mopani tree grows in hot, dry, low-lying areas, 200 to 1,150 metres in elevation, in the far

northern parts of southern Africa, into South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Angola

and Malawi.

Very dense and heavy but polishes up nicely


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

15290 posts in 2353 days

#4 posted 12-04-2012 11:11 AM

I’ve worked with Iron Bark from Australia. I smuggled home a few small pieces when we were there. The lady that gave it to me was burning big pieces of it in her fire place in the restaurant on top of this mountain.
It is a very dark and beautiful wood.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View lumberjoe's profile


2888 posts in 1496 days

#5 posted 12-04-2012 01:53 PM

I’ve worked with a lot of woods that are considered rare, but I beg to differ. I just walked into my local woodcraft and brought them to the register. Anyone could do the same, so how rare could they really be? I’d love to get my hands on a big chunk of Australian Buloke though.

-- Unplugged Woodworkers -

View BentheViking's profile


1763 posts in 1811 days

#6 posted 12-04-2012 02:00 PM

i know its not all that rare, but the rarest one that I’ve probably worked with is cypress…hopefully someday soon i will have a better answer

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View 489tad's profile


2969 posts in 2259 days

#7 posted 12-04-2012 02:18 PM

The rarest woud be mammouth kauri wood. Its a light brown, tight grain and soft. Purchased at Woodcraft.
I’ve seen just about everything on my vacation in ME. at Rare Woods USA.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2500 posts in 2685 days

#8 posted 12-04-2012 02:21 PM

I have, in my attic, two sets of guitar backs and sides of Brazilian Rosewood purchased in 1976 from Gurian Guitars in NH. Traveled and picked them out myself, and never used. Since they are illegal to import now and endangered, I’m wondering if I use them or sell them to the highest bidder. I actually can’t make up my mind.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1283 posts in 2984 days

#9 posted 12-04-2012 03:01 PM

Pink Ivory and Snakewood

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


675 posts in 2521 days

#10 posted 12-04-2012 03:59 PM

A straight, flat piece brought home from a big box store!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View BTimmons's profile


2291 posts in 1732 days

#11 posted 12-04-2012 04:08 PM

Got a few scraps of Texas Ebony that are drying in my work area. Looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 2406 days

#12 posted 12-04-2012 04:17 PM

@CotL – You could get at least $500 a set for those Brazilians. I think I’d pocket the money and just get another set of Indian Rosewood (which is arguably just as good acoustically) or something exotic that you’ve never used before in a guitar.

As for the most exotic wood I’ve ever used, it’s probably Austrailian (Tasmanian) Blackwood, but who knows how truly rare it is? I’ve also used Gabon ebony, which is probably rare mostly because of its price.

Koa gets more rare each day, and that’s probably the one wood I’d LIKE to work that I haven’t…though being from the same family as the above blackwood, it’s probably similar.

-- jay,

View Ripthorn's profile


1364 posts in 2232 days

#13 posted 12-04-2012 04:30 PM

I’ve worked several woods considered rare, but mostly in smaller pieces. I’ve used kingwood, koa, gaboon ebony, african blackwood, among others. Mostly I enjoy getting turning blanks and making tool handles or using larger pieces as fretboards on my guitars. I have a goal to at least use each of every kind of wood I can get my hands on. I just love trying different kinds to see how they work, look, etc.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 1301 days

#14 posted 12-04-2012 05:02 PM

finger wood (happens when you cut your finger)

-- Joel

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2500 posts in 2685 days

#15 posted 12-04-2012 08:09 PM

Yes Comic. I will eventually sell them. I made a lot of instruments but that was 30 years ago. I think if I made more I’d just use some of the exotics that are being used now by guitar companies.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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