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African Blackwood



African blackwood: Dalbergia melanoxylon: Technically a rosewood, African blackwood is a great choice. Its more stable than ebony, harder, just as heavy and far more stable and crack resistant. The wood tends to be black with subtle greyish grain running through it that personally, I find much more interesting the solid, featureless black of ebony.


Advise for working rosewoods: Always use a mask, as the dust is very irritating. After using rosewood, go straight to the shower to wash it off. The less time the oil is on your skin, the better. I find that showering with shampoo rather than soap helps, as shampoo is a surfactant rather than a soap and is much more effective at removing the oils from the skin.

When gluing rosewood, the common advise is to wipe with solvent before you glue to get a better bond. This is only half of it. I have been working with HUGE amounts of rosewood for several years, and this is what I find to be the best method. Wipe the wood with acetone about 5 minutes before you plan to glue. The fibers in the wood will create what’s called osmotic pressure, the same force that pulls water up a paper towel. This first wipe lowers the osmotic pressure in the wood fibers right next to the glue joint, and then wipe again just before you glue to get the strongest possible bond. I don’t advise making glue up handles with light woods like maple, as the oils of rosewoods can seep into nearby woods and stain them.

 Do not use an oil finish on rosewood. The high natural oil content means you any added oils will remain tacky and may weep. The best solution is a non-darkening buffed finish like Ben's buffing compound "coming soon!"