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Exotic Hardwood: Zebrawood

Posted: Friday, August 26, 2011

Exotic Hardwoods ZebrawoodZebrawood (which can also be known as Allen ele, Zebrano, or Zingana) is a unique way to jazz up a room. The tree is grown in West Central Africa, mostly in Gabon and Cameroon. You will find that the Zebrawood sapwood takes on a whitish color, which is very different from the heartwood. The heartwood has a pale yellow-brown with narrow darker streaks (hence the name).

The pattern of the heartwood will vary from tree to tree, therefore, making your floor unique. If you use a quarter-saw, the pattern of Zebrawood can be maximized. Another intriguing feature about Zebrawood is that the color can change as it ages; the background can turn from a light straw color to a deep amber color, with the striping turning from brown to nearly black. If you were to run your fingers along the wavy or interlocked grain, you will note that Zebrawood has a medium to coarse texture.

This wood is one of the harder woods, with a hardness of 1575 on the Janka scale. It is over 22% harder than red oak, 15% harder than white oak, about 71% that of santos mahogany’s Janka score of 2200, and just under 4% softer than wenge. Therefore, Zebrawood would make an excellent flooring choice. It is also harder than northern maple and very durable. Zebrawood is also very resistant to termite attack. Also, you will want to note that Zebrawood is prone to shrinkage in dry climates; when working with this wood, you will want to make sure that the wood is dried well and equalized.

In order to get the most out of this wood, you will want to quarter-saw it, which will minimize the warping. You may have a difficult time evoking a clean, smooth finish, as machine- and hand-planing will tear the delicate, interlocked grain. Handle the veneer gently, to avoid cracking. But for all of that, Zebrawood will glue well.

In addition to using Zebrawood as a flooring material, you can find this wood in ski and tool handles. The unique striping also makes this wood a beautiful wood to use in accent pieces around your home.