Color/Appearance:Heartwood is medium brown, sometimes with a reddish or yellowish hue, with nearly black streaks. Upon application of a wood finish (particularly an oil finish) the wood can become nearly black.
Grain/Texture:Grain is straight, with a very coarse texture. Low natural luster.
Endgrain:Diffuse-porous; large to very large pores in no specific arrangement, very few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; dark brown mineral deposits occasionally present; medium rays not visible without lens, normal spacing; parenchyma vasicentric, confluent, with wide bands of parenchyma typically as thick as the pores.
Workability: Can be difficult to work with hand and machine tools. Blunts tool edges. Sands unevenly due to differences in density between light and dark areas. Very splintery—care must be used when handling unfinished wood with bare hands, as splinters have an increased risk of infection. Very large pores can be difficult to fill if a perfectly smooth/level finish is desired.
Odor:Wenge has a faint, slightly bitter scent when being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity:Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, breathing Wenge wood dust has been reported to cause central nervous system effects, abdominal cramps, irritation of the skin and eyes, and is asensitizer. Also, Wenge splinters tend to take longer to heal and are more likely to go septic (get infected) than splinters from other woods. See the articlesWood Allergies and ToxicityandWood Dust Safetyfor more information.
Pricing/Availability: Available in wide boards and veneer sheets. Prices are high, and are likely to remain so as supplies dwindle.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.
Common Uses: Veneer, paneling, furniture, turned objects, and musical instruments.