Wenge is Strong and Lightweight...ish
I'm excited to feature Wenge this time because it is one of those species that is an exception to the rules and often defies the first impression of how a wood should work. I compare Wenge to a pro cyclist, specifically a strong classics rider who has huge strength for blistering attacks but lightweight enough to carry well up the steep climbs. This isn't your ultra lightweight pure climber who dances on the pedals up alpine climbs. This is the beast who drops watt bombs up short, sharp ascents and leaves everyone behind. Cycling metaphor aside, Wenge is a fascinating species that really needs to have all it's properties consider before drawing a conclusion about workability.
As this is the last episode of 2023, I also do a little predicting about the coming years for the lumber industry. I predict the engineered wood market, specifically the Cross laminated timber (CLT) will be the game changer that will transform commercial construction. It's engineering values and its sustainability makes it the building material to watch for the future.
Featured Species: African Wenge
Millettia laurentii is an interesting case study of how examining technical properties of a wood species will tell you a lot. But more to the point how examining several different properties might tell you a different story. Wenge is dark...really dark. Brown and black and pretty much all black when finished. So you would think it was dense, hard, and heavy. Well sure compared to Poplar it is. But compared to other tropical woods it is hard yet with a lower density making it lighter. Wenge is about power to weight ratio and in this game it wins big time.
Due to its dark color it can be used as an alternative to Ebony but the huge pores, even though diffuse porous, it won't finish the same without a lot of pore filling. Its a great species where strength counts and don't let the splintery infamy deter you. It splinters but this isnotihg that sharp tools can't tame.
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