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NOTE: there is rarely any "standard" or "typical" look for a wood so take what's in this table with a grain of salt
the REST of the pictures on this page will give you a better overall feel for this wood

kempas / Koompassia spp.

Includes at least Koompassia grandiflora, Koompassia beccarianna, Koompassia borneensis, Koompassia excelsa, and Koompassia malaccensis of the family Fabaceae (syn Leguminosae) the legume, pea, or bean family

also widely spelled "kampas", this is a heavy, coarse-grained wood that is primarily used for construction and flooring. I have never encountered this wood as a veneer

3" x 3" flat cut, 3" x 3" quartersawn, 3/4" wide end grain, and a 1/4" x 1/4" end grain closeup.

Diffuse porous with large, sparse, randomly positioned pores with fat lozenge shaped aliform parenchyma with occasional confulent parenchyma and occasional pore multiples up to 4 long, generally radial. Rays are very clear at 10X, growth ring boundaries are usually vague.

You do not normally see the obvious flat cut surface such as is shown here, it's almost always more of a rift cut or quartersawn look.


my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K)
colors will vary under other lighting conditions


both sides of a sample plank of kempas / Koompassia malaccensis


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of kempas / Koompassia malaccensis --- note that most of this piece is sapwood. The one directly above has only a small edge of sapwood


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of quartersawn kempas / Koompassia malaccensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The slightly darker color of the labeled side is correct


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of quartersawn kempas / Koompassia malaccensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both faces of a piece of kempas / Koompassia spp. that was sent to me for confirmation that it is indeed kempas, and as expected, it is. HUGE enlargements are present.


end grain and HIGH GRIT END GRAIN CLOSEUP of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of kempas / Koompassia spp. --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was presented to me by Mark Peet for identification but before I got to it, Mark emailed me saying that it was probably Koompassia spp. Based on both the face grain and the end grain, I am confident that he is correct and I would have come to the same conclusion.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


flooring sample kindly donated by Dale Romain. This piece has been only rough sanded and you can easily see the belt-sanding scratch marks across the grain. The 2nd pic is moistened with water. Well, OK, if you want to get picky, the pic isn't moistened with water, the wood is. The moistened pic shows up an effect that I did not see at all in the dry wood and that is the apparent presence of ray flakes. I say "apparent" because their direction relative to the grain makes them suspiciously unlike normal ray flakes but I don't know what else they could be. Below are a set of pics taken much later and after the wood was sanded again, and the flakes are gone.


another set of pics (the last one moistened) taken many years after the first set above. I note two things. First, the wood has darkened substantially even though it was in a closed box with no direct or indirect sunlight, and second, all traces of the flakes mentioned above disappeared after the extra sanding.


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


BAD ID BY VENDOR --- The identification on the lable is incorrect
both sides of a sample plank of kempas / Koompassia spp. --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. For years I had this as my only example of partridgewood / Andira inermis but when I did the end grain update and compared it to the samples on the NCSU LUNA site I found that there is no possiblity that this is Andira inermis and when I therefor reexamined it, I found that it is in every respect (color, face grain, end grain, density) identical to kempas so I conclude that it IS kempas.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


two planks contributed to the site by Mike Stafford, who sent them to me in the hopes that I could ID them. They sat on the Mystery Wood page (#169) for a couple of years and might have stayed there forever except that when I started doing the END GRAIN UPDATE process, I noticed that the end grain is clearly kempas and then realized that so is the face grain. Interestingly, Mike had heard when he got the wood that it might be "Borneo ironwood", which I could not confirm, but kempas is from Borneo, which is a nice tie-in. Also, these pieces are about 60lb/cu.ft. which is right at the reported upper end of the range for kempas.


various end grain shots


end grain closeups


end grain closeup and the corresponding END GRAIN UPDATE, which is what convinced me that this is kempas.


side grain closeups which emphasize nicely has grainy kempas is.



The following 6 samples were loaned to me by Mark Peet who got them from a flooring company that used the common name tualang. These show little to no difference in the detailed grain characteristics and could very well be all from the same tree (particularly given the extreme consistency of color), BUT ... the macro level grain characteristics are interestingly varied (flat cut, quartersawn, mottled, etc.) which is why I have put in pics of all 6 of them. On each sample, the second side shown has a hard finishing agent that substantially darkens the color and muddies the face grain charactistics. All of these samples had at least a small area of quartersawn surface and on every such surface there is a very odd characteristic that neither Mark nor I have ever seen before. We dubbed it "skyscrapers" and it is shown with the second piece below because that piece is quartersawn and shows it across the entire face.


first of six flooring samples


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- the 2nd face has a hard, thick finishing agent that deepens the color and muddies the grain (the first face IS raw wood)
both sides of a sample plank of kempas / koompassia excelsa --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This one is flat cut with beautiful cathedral grain.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above. The heavy white lines are cracks, not thick rays.


second of six flooring samples


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- the 2nd face has a hard, thick finishing agent that deepens the color and muddies the grain (the first face IS raw wood)
both sides of a sample plank of kempas / koompassia excelsa --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This one is quartersawn and exhibits the very odd characteristic, mentioned above, that Mark and I have dubbed "skyscrapers". This is shown most clearly in the face grain closeup directly below.


closeup of the quartersawn surface showing a characteristic that shows up on every quartersawn surface of every one of the 6 samples shown in this section pieces. It is particularly apparent in the enlargements and we still haven't figured out how the wood grain causes this look but we've decided to call it "skyscrapers". The horizontal lines are longitudinally split pores. This was taken under a particularly bright light and I could not get the color to come out right. The first face directly above has the correct color.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above. Unlike the rest of these flooring samples, this one does not have multitudinous small cracks in the end grain.


third of six flooring samples


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- the 2nd face has a hard, thick finishing agent that deepens the color and muddies the grain (the first face IS raw wood)
both sides of a sample plank of kempas / koompassia excelsa --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This one has a couple of knot area that makes the whole piece have an interesting swirly grain.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above.


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above. The heavy white lines are cracks, not thick rays.


fourth of six flooring samples


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- the 2nd face has a hard, thick finishing agent that deepens the color and muddies the grain (the first face IS raw wood)
both sides of a sample plank of kempas / koompassia excelsa --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This one is flat cut but shows quite an irregular broken-line face grain.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above. The heavy white lines are cracks, not thick rays.


fifth of six flooring samples


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- the 2nd face has a hard, thick finishing agent that deepens the color and muddies the grain (the first face IS raw wood)
both sides of a sample plank of kempas / koompassia excelsa --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This one has wavy grain (see the side grain closeup directly below) which causes it to take on a mottled look.


side grain closeup showing the wavy grain in detail.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above. The heavy white lines are cracks, not thick rays.


sixth of six flooring samples


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- the 2nd face has a hard, thick finishing agent that deepens the color and muddies the grain (the first face IS raw wood)
both sides of a sample plank of kempas / koompassia excelsa --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This one has a an area in the middle of the face where by sheer coincidence, all of the slightly wavy grain lines came up into the face all along a line, creating what from a distance looks exactly like what one sees in bamboo because of the vertical growth joint.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above. The heavy white lines are cracks, not thick rays.

end of six flooring samples




NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- the 2nd face has a hard, thick finishing agent that deepens the color and muddies the grain (the first face IS raw wood)
quartersawn kempas / koompassia excelsa --- two parts of a longer plank with the first pic being a face that I sanded down and the 2nd being the cutoff part that I left untouched. The end grain is of the sanded piece. Like the 6 samples directly above, this was loaned to me by Mark Peet but this particular piece was not already made into formal samples. Mark included this one because it has a strong wavy grain across the whole face.

web pics:


plank listed as kempas / Koompassia malaccensis


planks


plank with unlikely color, even if it has been moistened


flooring. Kempas is widely used for flooring and there are many sites on the Internet that show it in that use.