Kentucky Coffeetree Lumber Characteristics

Sawmillers share experiences with sawing and drying Coffeetree wood. March 9, 2010

I have been offered a Kentucky coffee tree. I have a small Wood-Mizer mill to cut it up with, but I have never cut any of this before. Any tips, uses, oddities about this wood? I haven't been able to find much out.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor C:
I just cut my first coffeewood three weeks ago, so I am no expert on it. But a few things I can tell you: It is at least as dense as oak. It is ring-porous. It is prone to tension in the log if it has grown anything short of straight up (in which case, maybe seal the ends, keep the sun off it and let it sit for a little bit). It looks really good flat sawn, and due to its fairly slow growth, looks even better quarter-sawn. The sapwood was only about an inch or two thick; the heart has a pinkish hue which is really attractive.

I have mine stickered and air drying right now and while I have heard that Kentucky coffeewood is prone to splitting, none of mine has done so. In fact, other than walnut, I have never seen lumber dry so well and be so forgiving of the elements. In fact, I have a large piece that didn't fit in the stack and I left it out and forgot to resaw it. It has been leaning against the south side of my building for 3 weeks and it has not warped or checked, despite the fact that the sun has beat on it and it has been rained on several times... Amazing stuff.

From contributor T:
Cut up a log for friend about three years ago. It was either dead on stump or had been cut long before. The hardest thing I ever put on the mill. Would cut two boards about 15" wide and have to change blades. Finally halfway through, he decided to quit and made it into an outside bench. Put linseed oil on it and it still looks great. He tried to joint and plane a couple of the boards and gave up. Too hard. Very nice looking boards, just exceptionally hard.

From contributor A:
I have never had a hard time sawing coffee tree with a band mill. It saws about like honey locust or black locust, which it is kin to. The sapwood is very narrow and the heart looks about like red elm. It is a heavy wood and turners like it. Never noted it being bad for checking or much on warp. Just so little of it in these hills. Might need to find some beans and start some a growing.