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The wood usedfor turning pens

Only the finest hardwoods are used in the turning of pens.

Wild olive: 

Botanical name: Olea europeae sub sp. Africana
Family: Oleaceae
Distribution: Scattered across South Africa
Hard, dense timber with distinctive grain which can be interlocked. Good turnery timber.        
Description and uses:
Buttery yellow to olive green with variegated patterning. This is a very distinctive timber available in limited sizes. Suitable for turning small, decorative objects, and good for breadboards, cheese platters etc.


There isn’t any other wood that turn as pretty  as Wild olive.  It is an indegeonesn tree to large parts of South Africa.  Is is a very hard wood, slow growing in the kloofs / ravines of souther Africa. The penblank used for a pen is at least 15-20 years of growth. The grain gives very pretty looking patterns on the final product .  The Wild Olive is similar to the Olive tree.


Shorea spp.
Family: Dipterocarpaceae
Distribution:  West Malayasia

Hard, heavy and very dense with high bending and crushing strengths. The wood is moderately difficult to work with machines as the interlocked grains and toughness has a blunting effect on tools. It is unsuitable for nailing or screwing and gluing results are variable. Very durable and immune from insect or fungal attack.

Bridge and wharf construction as well as sleepers and boats.



Species: Cedar (Alaskan)
Botanical name: Cupressus nootkatensis
Family: Cupressaceae
Distribution: West coast of North America
Softwood which machines easily. Tends to have small tight knots, but can be supplied as clears.
Description and uses:
Not a true Cedar, this buttery coloured timber is highly prized. Extremely durable, it is used for decking, cladding and traditional boat building. It also carves and turns well. We carry this in a rustic grade as well.


Species: Cherry (American)     CHERRY
Prunus serotina
Family: Rosaceae
Distribution:    Canada and USA

The timber exhibits good work bending properties, low stiffness and medium strength and resistance to shocks. Works easily with hand and power tools with only moderate blunting effects on cutting edges. It nails, glues, stains and takes an excellent polish.

Tobacco pipes, musical instruments, and furniture and cabinetmaking. It is an excellent turnery and carving wood.





Species: Cypress (Local)     CYPRESS
Cupressus macrocarpa
Family: Cupressaceae
Distribution:  East and South Africa

Properties     The timber is strong in relation to its weight. The wood works without difficulty with hand and machine tools with only a slight blunting effect on cutting edges. It nails, screws and glues well, and gives satisfactory resluts with finishing treatments.

Uses    Shipbuilding, furniture, and linings for cupboard doors and trunks.


Species:  KARRI
Eucalyptus diversicolor
Family: Myrtaceae

Distribution:  S. Western Australia
High bending and crushing strengths and stiffness. Difficult to work with hand tools, and has a moderate to severe blunting effect on machine tools. It can be glued, stained and polished satisfactorily.

Structural and construction work.Also used in shipbuilding, flooring and for beams and rafters.



Pterocarpus angloensis
Family: Leguminosae
Distribution:   Central and Southern Africa

This timber has a medium bending strength, high crushing strength, low resistance to shock loads and very low stiffness. Works well with hand and machine tools, but there is a moderate blunting effect on cutting edges. It glues well and can be stained and polished to a very good finish.

Furniture, panelling and high-class joinery and domestic flooring.


Mahogany (African)

Species: Mahogany (African) 
Khaya ivorensis
Family: Meliaceae

Distribution: Central, West and East Africa

The bending strength is low, stiffness and resistance to shock loads is low and the crushing strength is medium. There is a moderate blunting effect on tools. Nailing, screwing and gluing properties are good and it may be stained and polished to an excellent finish.

Widely used for furniture and cabinet making, the wood can also be used for boatbuilding and vehicle bodies.


Maple (Curly)

Species: Maple (Curly)
Botanical name, Distribution, Properties: See details for Maple (Hard).
Description and uses:
Found in hard and soft maple, it has a beautiful curl figure which is highly prized. Used for musical instruments, knife handles, and other decorative uses.

Oak - White (French)

Species: Oak - White (French)
Botanical name: Quercus spp.
Family: Fagaceae
Distribution: Widespread across Europe.

Hard, durable timber very suitable for steambending. Acidic, so galvanised or non ferrous fittings should be used.

Description and uses:
Softer to machine than American oak, this is a superb timber for flooring, cladding, furniture etc. Mainly imported into SA in a rustic grade, which lends itself to countertops and large refectory tables. Timber of choice for wine cellars and tasting rooms.

Panga Panga

Millettia stuhlmannii
Family: Leguminosae
Distribution:  East Africa

This very heavy, dense wood has a high bending strength and resistance to shock loads, with a medium crushing and stiffness strength. It has a moderate blunting effect on cutting edges. Nailing requires pre-boring and the grain requires filling to be brought to a good finish.

Perfect for flooring strips, interior and exterior joinery and general construction work.

Rosewood (African)


This wood falls under the same species as Bubinga, family name Geobourtia tessmannii



Ocotea bullata
Family: Lauraceae
Distribution:  South Africa
This hard and strong wood has a very high density, medium crushing and bending strengths and medium stiffness. Easy to work with hand or machine tools. It can be stained, and takes on an excellent polished finish.

High-class furniture and cabinet making, light flooring, turnery and decorative veneers.


And yes, it stinks when you work with it.





Species: Tamboti
Botanical name: Spirostachys africana
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Distribution: Warmer parts of Southern Africa

Hard and durable. Timber must not be used for cooking meat over a fire, as the fumes are toxic.            

Description and uses:
Used to make furniture, and small turned objects. Knife handles. Differential colouring between heartwood and sapwood can be used to good effect.

Teak (Rhodesian or Zambezi)

Botanical name: Baikiaea plurijuga
Family: Fabaceae
Distribution: Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola
Extremely heavy and dense. Highly durable.     

Description and uses:
Highly sought after, this wood is used for decking, flooring, furniture. Has been used to make high end workbenches.



Family: Podocapaceae

Distribution:   East and South Africa

Medium bending and crushing strength, very low stiffness and low resistance to shock loads. Works easily with hand and machine tools, with little effect on cutting edges. Gluing and nailing are satisfactory, and the surface will take polish and paint well.

Used for furniture making, joinery and fittings. Also for decorative veneers and for panelling.


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