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Last edited 30 Oct 2020
The Properties of Padauk Wood
Originating from Asia or Africa, padauk wood can be obtained from a wide variety of Pterocarpus species. Commonly referred to as narra or mukwa, padauk wood is a valuable resource due to its durability, strength, and stability when being worked. Its reddish colour is quite distinguishable, although often confused with rosewoods – a wood that is somewhat related to padauk.
Extremely common, African padauk is also called Vermilion due to its reddish colour. Its heartwood can be a pale orange or a deep brown-red colour, with the wood darkening after being cut. With a typically straight grain, African padauk’s texture is open and coarse, with a natural lustre.
Resistant to termites and other insects, African padauk is a very durable wood with exceptional rot resistance. Very easy to work with, it finishes, glues, and turns very well. Some care must be taken due to the possibility of tearouts occurring during planing on both interlocked or quartersawn grains.
Although having a unique red coloration, this darkens over time even with UV-inhibiting finishes to prolong its natural colour. However, African padauk’s strength, stability, and durability make it a very popular wood amongst woodworkers.
With a lighter hue than African padauk, Burma padauk wood has a more yellow-red heartwood with the wood turning golden brown with age. Burma padauk also has a yellow sapwood that is clearly defined from the heartwood.
Burma padauk has a higher density than its counterpart African padauk, and its interlocked grains make it more difficult to work with. It does, however, finish, turn, and glue well, having a light aromatic scent when being worked.
Very durable to rot, termites, and insects, Burma padauk has indistinct growth rings and large pores that are not arranged in any specific form. Considered a sensitiser, Burma padauk can cause respiratory, eye, or skin problems, although severe allergic reactions are rare.
Andaman padauk has interlocked grains with open pores and a coarse texture. It is a wood with pale orange to deep brown-red colouring. Similar to both African and Burma padauk, Andaman padauk darkens in colour after being cut to a purple-red-brown.
Durable and resistant to decay, this wood also has good resistance to insects and termites. Easy to work with, Andaman padauk glues, finishes, and turns well, with a slight chance of tearout occurring while planing on both interlocked or quarterswan.
It is capable of causing skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, but rarely causes severe reactions. This wood is usually more on the mid to upper range in relation to imported wood, as it is presently rarely available due to being almost depleted.
--G&S Specialist Timber 15:51, 12 May 2017 (BST)
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