by Professor Gene Wengert
My wife has a small business designing, making, and selling jigsaw puzzles made from a variety of hard woods. One of her most popular woods is called Redheart at the hardwood lumber dealers. We have been unable to learn anything about this wood (where it comes from, etc.). Can you give me a reference or two where I am most likely to be able to find out the information I am looking for?
Redheart is a term used for the heartwood of hickory. (It is always possible that the suppliers have a foreign wood that they have renamed.) If it is hickory, then it will be quite hard. You can always send me a sample (about the size of a cigarette package) for positive identification--no cost.
Professor Gene Wengert is Extension Specialist in Wood Processing at the Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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Comment from contributor N:
I am sure that Professor Wengert's description for redheart is correct in areas of the US where the particular type of hickory he is describing is abundant, but I think the redheart wood that is used in the puzzles you are speaking of is most likely the same redheart that I am familiar with. Redheart is native to Central America with the botanical name Erythroxylon spp. In its finished form, as you are familiar with, it is naturally pale to dark red wood, which will deepen in color and turn more of a brown with age, depending on how it is finished and how much exposure it gets. When Redheart is freshly cut, it is a bright red color that darkens with exposure. The wood has a medium density and is not as hard as hickory, although it is quite hard with a straight and tight grain, so it finishes very nicely. Redheart's main downside to woodworkers is its tendency to burn easily.