About the Wood

These are the woods Eric uses most often in woodturning; all have been harvested in environmentally safe ways:

African Blackwood

[Dalbergia melanoxylon]

A true member of the rosewood family (Dalbergia), African Blackwood comes from the savannahs of central and southern Africa. I use it exclusively as a detail wood because of its extremely fine working properties (I and others regard it as the premier detail wood available to woodturners). It is very hard and dense, but allows for extraordinarily fine cuts in finials and inlay work.

“Mexican Rosewood” (Bocote)

[Cordia alliodora]

A tropical American hardwood with a medium coarse, very dramatic grain pattern. It can also be spectacularly colorful. The wood is dense and heavy,


“African Rosewood” (Bubinga)

[Guibourtia demusei, Family: Leguminosae)]

This beautiful wood from South Africa has striking color—pale reddish to deep burgundy, with moderately coarse grain.  It has both straight and interlocking grain patterns.


Buckeye Burl

[Aesculus californica]

Buckeye and related species are native to the eastern and western United States. Much of it comes from California, hence the name of this species. The timber from California and Oregon is not particularly interesting underground, but in its burl (above ground) form, Buckeye more than makes up for this: the wood is soft, with a palette of grays, whites, blacks, and some brown and orange. This all comes all from the oxidizing of underground minerals the burl has absorbed. The patterns that are generated by these colors are simply spectacular, like no other burl wood in the world.


Camphor Burl

[Cinnamomum camphora]

A truly extraordinary burl wood, coming mainly from Southeast Asia, Vietnam in particular.  With a rich, reddish/cinnamon-like primary color—and others swirling— Camphor Burl is most notable for its amazing figure, rivaling that of even the most impressive burl woods from around the world.



[Centrolobium spp., family Leguminosae]

A very beautiful and colorful turning wood from Tropical America, Canarywood hasa wide range of yellow to red hues.  It is an ideal turning wood and takes a great finish.



[Prunus serotina]

Cherry is a wonderful, warm American hardwood, long used in turning, furniture-making and other woodworking. It darkens considerably with age, to a rich reddish brown. In its burl form, Cherry takes on a whole range of extraordinary characteristics: dramatic figuration, bark inclusions, a more varied color range, while still preserving the warmth of Cherry in its more familiar form.


Cocobolo Rosewood

[Dalbergia retusa] 

The"queen" of the Rosewoods (Dalbergia family), Cocobolo has long been prize for its beautiful color, grain, and the high finish it produces.  Sadly, the Chinese are now consuming an inordinate amount of Cocobolo, a tropical American hardwood; it may soon become endangered.


East Indian Rosewood

[Dalbergia latifolia]

A beautiful, dark, easily worked Rosewood (a true  member of the Dalbergia family). The wood is very stable and retains its color virtually forever—one reason it has historically been used so frequently for furniture making.



[Dalbergia cearensis]

Kingwood isone of the great true Rosewoods (family: Dalbergia).  It is found mainly in Brazil and is distinguished by its gorgeous heartwood  colors,ranging from a dark purplish to reddish brown, often with darker streaks. The sapwood is a pale yellow.


Gold Mallee Burl

(Eucalyptus dumosa)

A truly gorgeous burl wood from Australia, it is actually from a species of Eucalyptus. It has fantastic figure and color. One of the great turning woods of the world, it is quite expensive and difficult to work. But the expense and effort are well it!  


Red Mallee Burl

(Eucalyptus socialis)

Similar in almost all respects to Gold Mallee Burl in figure, hardness, and expense—but with an amazing palette of reds in place of the golden brown of its sister species.


Figured Maple

[Acer negundo (family: Aceracea)]

Maple has many different kinds of distinctive  figure:  "burly," "fiddleback,""curly," "quilted," and spalted are the primary descriptors.  Maple Burl is the most dramatic, and most interesting of the various forms of figure. Burls are an outgrowth on a tree, with various causes—but often beautiful variations in the ordinary heartwood.   

Maple Burl varies considerably in grain qualities, color, spalting (the fungal and bacterial formations that often give burl its distinctive patterning), and degrees  of bark and other enclosures.



[Umbellularia californica (family Myrtaceae)]

Wide-ranging and subtle in color andfiguration, Myrtle (and its burl form) is an exceptionally beautiful wood. Itis native to California and Oregon. The palette tends to greys, dark browns, even black, all melded into swirling figure.



[Olea europaea]

A truly biblical wood, Mediterranean Olivewood  has a heartwood that is a cream or yellowish brown, with darker brown or black contrasting streaks. Color tends to deepen with age. Olivewood sometimes has quite beautiful figure, with curly or wavy grain, burl, or wild grain.



[Pterocarpussoauxii (family: Leguminosae)]

Padauk is a particularly fine and colorful turning wood from a wide range in Africa. Notably the wood darkens dramatically—and beautifully—with age, becoming a golden brown. 



[Peltogyne spp.]

Purpleheart is one of the world's most dramatically colored woods, and more than lives up to its name. After initial exposure to sunlight, it turns a deep, almost eggplant purples.  It is extremely hard and dense, and the most fissile wood I work with: it is a real challenge, but with beautiful results. (This wood in particular needs to be protected from ultraviolet light after turning, or it will slowly become a purplish brown).


[Brosimum guianense] 

This wood—native to northeast South America—is the hardest and heaviest of all the woods I turn. It takes a spectacular finish, which highlights its extraordinary figure (hence the name of the wood). It is extremely difficult to work with, very, expensive, and hence is for me primarily a finishing or detail wood.


Claro Walnut  

[Juglans nigra]

One of the pre-eminent hardwoods of North America, Black Walnut—especially in its figured forms—is a beautiful, richly colored wood that works well with other woods.  It is moderately dense and fine-grained. Claro Walnut is a distinctive sub-species and a much more highly figured wood.


Figured (Bastogne) Walnut  

[Juglans nigra]

Bastogne Walnut is a hybrid form of Walnut and is a much lighter colored wood and typically has much more interesting figure.



[Cordia dedecandra]

The heartwood is red-brown incolor, with dramatic black veins that are often interlocked in a striking fashion. From Central America, this lustrous wood takes a very fine finish. I use it frequently as a detail wood.