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About Lignum-Vitae

COMMON NAMES: Lignum vitae, Guayacan, GuaiacumSanctum, Guaiacum Official, Ironwood

SPECIFIC GRAVITY: 1.37

DENSITY: 77 - 82 lbs./cu.ft.

TANGENTIAL MOVEMENT: 2.5%

RADIAL MOVEMENT: n/a

VOLUMETRIC SHRINKAGE: n.a

DURABILITY: Exceptional resistance to moisture and fungal attack

SOURCE: West Indes, Central America, northern South America

DESCRIPTION: One of the hardest and heaviest woods (three times as hard as oak), lignum vitae is most commonly used for mallet heads, bearings and rollers. Because of its durability and natural lubricants, it is the preferred wood for propeller bushings and other underwater applications. The lignum vitae tree generally grows to a diameter of about 12", although historically, trees in the 18" - 30" range have been known.

Lignum vitae is reddish brown when freshly cut, with pale yellow sapwood. As it oxidizes, the color turns to a deep green, often with black details. The grain is highly interlocked, making it difficult to work with edge tools, but it machines well and takes a high polish. It is a remarkably good wood for turning.

ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT: Although Lignum Vitae has been harvested for over 500 years before I was born, I feel an obligation to replace it. The Lignum Vitae tree is native from Florida to Costa Rica and from Panama to the Bahamas. I have been fortunate to have acquired some land in Abaco in partnership with friends and have committed to planting, growing and promoting the Lignum Vitae tree in the Bahamas. My personal goal is to plant at least one tree for every block that I have acquired. I wish for this incredibly useful wood to be available for generations to come.