ROSEWOOD CHARACTERISTICS

The rosewoods are hardwoods and, unlike some hardwoods, are REALLY HARD. And heavy. And dense. And beautiful.

Densities range from about 50 lbs/ft3 to about 75 lbs/ft3 depending on the species and sometimes even the particular piece. For example, I have noted the density of every piece of cocobolo I've ever bought and found that the range for my set of 20 or so planks (ranging from quite small to only modest in size) was 60 to 79 lbs/ft3 with most of the pieces being from 65 to 75 lbs/ft3. Their density makes rosewoods very durable, both mechanically and chemically.

The heartwood tends to be oily and this combines with the density to have some considerable implications in how the woods are worked (more on that under WORKING WITH ROSEWOODS below). Resins may also be present, and can also be a problem in working.

Despite their density, rosewoods have a slightly open pore structure, some much more than others. Cocobolo, for example, is very fine-grained, but others can soak up a fair amount of finish. Fillers may be called for; it's a matter of judgment based on species and individual pieces.

The sapwood on genuine rosewoods tends to be a very bland white or whitish-tan color, sometimes with a yellow tint, and is softer than the heartwood. The sapwood is susceptible to insect attack but insect holes tend to be fairly small.

Like many woods, rosewood can be subject to mineral deposits getting sucked up from the roots into the tree, and although I've never experienced this problem myself, anecdotal reports say that it can be particularly problematic on small, irregularly shaped trees (but I think that does not directly have to do with the shape of the tree, but rather that the irregularity of growth is indicative of mixed soil conditions, which is more directly the cause of minerals getting into the sap).

One fairly severe problem with the rosewoods, and like many of its characteristics this is tied to the density, is that they can be difficult to dry without degrade; checking in particular can be a problem.

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Thursday the 21st. Thanks for visiting Woodturners Unlimited.