Wenge Lumber

Botanical Name: Millettia laurentii

Family: Leguminosae

Other Common Names: Awoung, Dikela, Mibotu, Bokonge, Tshikalakala, Nson-so, Palissandre du congo, Wenge

Uses: Parquet or strip flooring, joinery, general construction, specialty items. Wenge is used as a hickory substitute in sporting goods, also for decorative veneer.

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Distribution: The natural growth range of the species is reported to be the open forests of Zaire, Cameroon, Gabon, the southern regions of Tanzania, and Mozambique. It is also found in the swampy forests of the Congo region.

General Characteristics: The tree is described as medium sized, and attains a height of 50 to 60 feet (15 to 18 m) and a trunk diameter of 30 to 36 inches (75 to 100 cm). The heartwood is dark brown, mostly black, with fine, closely spaced, very dark veins and white lines. The combination of white bands against the dark wood with black streaks gives Wenge a very attractive appearance. Color variation between boards is reported to be moderate; the sapwood is pale yellow or whitish in color, and is clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Texture is typically medium to coarse; the grain is fairly straight to slightly roey. The appearance of the wood has been described as expressive; Luster is reported to be low. There is no distinctive odor or taste.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) N/A; air-dry density 54 pcf

Working Properties: The timber is reported to saw slowly. The timber is reported to be fairly easy to work with machine tools. Wenge is reported to be popular as a good turnery wood. The material is reported to be rather difficult to glue because of the presence of resin cells. The timber is described as tough and strong, and requires pre-boring in nailing, but holding characteristics are reported to be good. Sanding characteristics are reported to be satisfactory.

The wood is reported to be rather difficult to polish, but satisfactory polishing results can be obtained after filling. Varnishing properties are reported to be rather poor. Some solvent-based stains are reported to dry with difficulty. The wood responds well to hand tools.

Durability: The heartwood is reported to be durable and is resistant to termites.

Preservation: The heartwood is reported to be highly resistant to preservative treatment but the sapwood is treatable

Mechanical Properties

Bending Strength:

Green: 12,500 psi
Dry: 19,500 psi

Modules of Elasticity:


Maximum Crushing Strength:

Green: 6,300 psi
Dry: 10,300 psi

Drying and Shrinkage:

The wood is fairly difficult to dry. It seasons slowly, and a fair amount of care is required in order to avoid or reduce drying defects. The material has a high tendency to check during drying. There is also a slight chance of distortion. Kiln Schedule T6-D2 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T3-D1 for 8/4. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 3%; tangential 6%. The wood is rated as fairly stable, but there are reports of significant movement in use in actual installations.

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