Grain/Texture:Grain is interlocked, sometimes severely so. Has a very fine texture and can be polished to a high luster due to its high natural oil content. Raw wood surfaces can feel greasy or oily to the touch.
Rot Resistance:Lignum vitae is reported to be very durable for outdoor use and is also very resistant to insect attack.
Workability:Lignum vitae has a tendency to skip over-top jointer cutters on account of its extremely high density, and very light passes are recommended. Lignum vitae will also dull cutters, and overall the wood is considered quite difficult to work. Also, due to its high oil content, it’s very difficult to get strong andreliable glue joints.Finishing can also be problematicas well. However, lignum vitae turns well on a lathe.
Odor:Lignum vitae has a mild, perfume-like fragrance. (Though its scent isn’t quite as pungent nor as lingering as the closely related woods in theBulnesiagenus.)
Pricing/Availability:Trade of lignum vitae is restricted inCITES Appendix II, and prices for genuine lignum vitae are accordingly very high—and usually from questionable sources. Irregular chunks and turning blocks are sometimes sold by the pound instead of the more common board-foot measurement.
Sustainability: This wood species is in CITES Appendix II, and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered because populations are severely reduced and exploitation for both its wood and resin extracts have continued for hundreds of years.
Common Uses:Tool handles, mallet heads, bearings, bushings, pulley wheels, and turned objects.