Materials Used in Ornamental Turning - African Blackwood

Ornamentally Turned Objects

African Blackwood

Picture courtesy John Edwards

This is an excellent wood for ornamental turning, and gets used often. It is fairly rare and expensive, so there are alternative options. Katalox is one good and less expensive alternative to blackwood. Gilmer (and others) often have blackwood oboe bell blank “rejects” for a better price than logs or turning blanks.

It is quite hard (Janka hardness = 16,320 N), so expect to resharpen often. That hardness enables it to hold shapes very well, and the relative plain-ness of the wood allows for the ornamental turning cuts to show well.

African Blackwood can be confused with ebony as the color and look are similar; however ebony is not as hard (13,700 N Janka hardness).


This wood is quite expensive, so prototyping the design on less expensive woods is highly recommended.

Work Holding

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Ornamental Turning Notes

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Properly cut, no finishing should be needed.

Other Notes

More information is in The Wood Database.

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Disclaimer: eMail comments to me at OTBookOfKnowledge @ The process of woodturning involves the use of tools, machinery and materials which could cause injury or be a health hazard unless proper precautions are taken, including the wearing of appropriate protective equipment.