by Professor Gene Wengert
I have been privileged to acquire a wood named padauk, which is deep red/orange in color. In fact, it is being used as shipping crate material. Most of the boards are 1/2" x 6" x 5', and several are 2" x 2" x 6'. I was able to identify the wood at a local store, but would like to know more about the nature of the wood itself, like how it is best worked, popular uses, where it comes from and, most of all, if it is worth getting.
There are three species of trees that produce wood that we call padauk--Burma padauk, Andaman padauk (named for the Andaman Islands where it grows), and African padauk. All are legume family and have the Latin names of Pterocarpus macrocarpus, Pterocarpus dalbergioides, and Pterocarpus soyauxii. The sawdust is probably a nasal irritant. There may be a faint odor. All are red when cut, but darken with exposure to light. The wood is resistant to termites. It is widely used for decorative carvings, flooring, etc. Because of interlocked grain, it is hard to finish smoothly--use very sharp tools and fresh sandpaper. I could give you more if I knew the country.
Professor Gene Wengert is Extension Specialist in Wood Processing at the Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Click on Wood Doctor Archives to peruse past answers.
If you would like to obtain a copy of "The Wood Doctor's Rx", visit www.fdmbookstore.bigstep.com for more information.
Comment from contributor A:
You've found gold! I recently made some cabinet doors for a client with padauk. It is very much a respitory irritant, so please take precautions. I would also recommend dust collection, as my shop still has a red hue after a couple months. Edges and corners are brittle, so sharp tooling is important, as was mentioned. I found the wood to be very stable and a pleasure to work with. With regards to glue up, I'd recommend a poly glue as the wood is oily. A good sharp scraper is what I found leaves the best surface and I sprayed Magnalac as a finish. It takes a beautiful finish, revealing a vibrant natural appearance.