BOTANICAL NAME: Mansonia altissima of the family Malvaceae
COMMON NAMES: african black walnut, african walnut, afun, anyi, aprend, aprono, aprono (ghana), aprono, bete, koul, mansonia, ofun, baule, bete, bete (ivory coast), bodua, boroua, essai, guissepa, koul (cameroon), mansonia, nkoul, odo, ododo, ofun (nigeria), oprono, prono, pruno, purono, urodo
COLOR: heartwood is a Yellowish brown or light brown with a slight yellowish tint. Sometimes found as a darker chocolate brown. Sometimes has a purplish cast but the purple fades with time. The color is even with no distinguishing patterns. Lightens with exposure to UV. The sapwood is usually white in color, sometimes with a yellow tint, and is sharply demarcated from the heartwood.
GRAIN / TEXTURE / FILLER / FINISH / LUSTER: The grain is generally straight (occasionally interlocked) and the luster is low to medium, texture is fine to medium and even. It polishes well and finishes well with all finishing agents, taking on a silky appearance when finished because of the fairly tight grain.
PROPERTIES / WORKABILITY: Works easily with both hand and machine tools, and responds well to all machining operations such as sawing, planing, moulding, routing, mortising, and boring, all with little dulling of cutting edges. Turns, carves, and sands well; nails, screws, and glues well. Veneers well.
Has high bending strength, low stiffness, medium resistance to shock, and high crushing strength. Most of its strength properties are about equal to those of American black walnut (Juglans nigra), except that it is about 30 percent more resistant to shock and 15 percent stronger in bending. It is fairly hard, resisting wear, denting, and marring fairly well. It is a moderately heavy wood.
DURABILITY: Fairly durable; resistant to termites, but it is susceptible to pin hole borer and longhorn beetle attack. The heartwood is highly resistant to preservative treatment; the sapwood is permeable. Has good weathering qualities, and is reported to be suitable for shingles.
STABILITY: low to medium movement in service
BENDING: an excellent wood for steam bending; bend easily and holds its shape but to avoid buckling and fracture, it is recommended that bending be performed when the wood is green.
ODOR / TASTE: no distinct odor or taste.
SOURCES: Occurs in tropical West Africa, from Ivory Coast to Cameroon, and is found especially in southern Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Ghana but also in Benin and Togo. It is reported to grow in the deciduous forest types in its range. It prefers dry fertile forest soil over wet forest and tends to be drought tolerant.
USES: bedroom suites, boat building (general), bobbins, boxes and crates, bridge construction, building materials, cabinet works, cabinetmaking, cabinets, canoes, carvings, chairs, chests, concealed parts (furniture), decorative veneer, desks, dining-room furniture, dowel pins, drawer sides, drum sticks, excelsior, figured veneer, fine furniture, fittings, floor lamps, flooring, framing and heavy timbering, furniture components, furniture squares or stock, hat racks, heavy construction, hull planking., inside joinery, interior construction, joinery, joinery (external): ground contact, kitchen cabinets, lifeboats, light construction, living-room suites, marquetry, musical instruments, office furniture, organ pipes, panelling, piano keys, pianos, picker sticks, plywood, radio, railroad ties, rifle butts, rustic furniture, shade rollers, shingles, shipbuilding, shuttles, sounding boards, speciality items, spindles, spools, sporting goods, stencil & chisel blocks, stereo, stools, sucker rods, tables, truck bodies, turnery, tv cabinets, umbrella handles, utility furniture, vehicle parts, veneer, violin, violin bows, wainscotting, wardrobes, xylophones
TREE: Usually buttressed, with a clear and straight bole with a diameter between 2 and 3 feet and a height from 100 to 120 feet. The bole is usually clear for up to 60 ft.
WEIGHT: reports are all over the map on this one, 38 to 52 lbs/cu. ft. but my own experience has it in a tighter range of about 38 to 44 lbs/cu. ft.
DRYING: The material is reported to dry well and at a fairly rapid rate with little degrade, but it requires care. Knots tend to split and shakes tend to expand. Some distortion in length may occur and there is also a slight tendency for the wood to warp.
Green to Oven Dried shrinkage:
AVAILABILITY: available in limited quantities in both the lumber and veneer forms in the US.
COST: priced in the moderate range, but generally more expensive than American black walnut, probably because of being less available.
Fine dust produced from machining operations is reported to be extremely irritating, especially to respiratory passages. The bark of the wood also contains mansonin, a cardiac poison of the digitalis group. Use of face masks and barrier skin creams is recommended.
HOBBIT NOTE: It resembles American black walnut and is sometimes used as a walnut substitute but it has closer pores and a different grain structure. It is generally more bland than black walnut but it's a nice looking wood.
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