Materials Used in Ornamental Turning - Lignum Vitae

Ornamentally Turned Objects

Lignum Vitae

Lignum Vitae Ring Stand
Picture courtesy John Edwards

This is an excellent wood for ornamental turning, though it is less used as it has natural beauty, and the ornamentation could easily become gaudy.

It is quite hard (Janka hardness = 19,510 N), but the oiliness helps to not have to resharpen often. That hardness enables it to hold shapes very well. It has a natural beauty, but in a simple kind of way that allows for the ornamental turning cuts to show well.


This wood is not highly available. Prototyping the design on less expensive and more easily available woods is recommended.

Work Holding

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Ornamental Turning Notes

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Finishing is probably not necessary due to the inherent oils. If you do choose to finish it, take this into account. As noted, you should test the finish on an unnecessary piece.

I have seen some lesser quality pieces of wood will look much better with an oil-based finish. One I like to use for this is Tried & True’s Original Wood Finish.

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.