Do you know that Australian Buloke is considered the hardest hardwood on Earth available commercially? Yes, you heard it right, but you might be unfamiliar with this wood because it is rarely available in the market. Its scientific name is Allocasuarina luehmannii, referred to as the “Australian Ironwood Tree” or “Bull-oak” It has a Janka Hardness rating of 3,760 Janka.
Australian Buloke is an evergreen tree that grows up to 66 feet high with a trunk diameter of up to 6 meters. Its name originates from an Aboriginal term, “bulok,” which means “very hard.” As a hardwood tree, it is deciduous, shedding its leaves during autumn. It also gets referred to as Bull Oak.
Australian Buloke’s Wood Properties, Characteristics, Colors & Uses
Australian Buloke is a very rare type of tree because of its incredible hardness of 3760 lbf Janka rating. Its Janka Hardness rating is way beyond the commonly used hardwoods and softwoods in the market today. It is even harder than Brazilian Ebony (3,585 Janka), Cumaru (3,540 Janka), Brazilian Chestnut (3,540 Janka), Golden Teak (2,330 Janka), Purple Heart (2,090 Janka), and many other hardwoods.
Australian Buloke has a reddish-brown heartwood with a well-defined light yellowish-brown sapwood. Due to its vast aggregate of rays, it also features a lace-like pattern on its quartersawn surface. You will see these large rays because they are huge. Besides, in some pieces of flatsawn lumber, you will see these vast visible rays.
Australian Buloke is a very stable wood dimensionally with exceptional qualities like slow burning quality and longer coal life. Hence, if you want excellent firewood, consider this wood.
Its grains range from a bit interlocking to straight grains. Besides, it has a uniform medium texture characterized by its natural luster.
You will find it hard to work with this wood because of its incredible hardness. Moreover, tear-out might happen during planing, especially when working on quartersawn surfaces along the rays. You can turn it and it finishes well.
This wood gets commonly used for flooring, knife handles, turned objects, and fine furniture. When it comes to rot resistance, this wood has a remarkable resistance to rot and decay. It also shows excellent resistance to pest attacks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Aside from knowing the sterling characteristics and properties of Australian Buloke, it will also help if you are mindful of the following FAQs about this wood, for they may also be the questions playing on in your mind:
Is Australian Buloke Harder Than Steel?
Australian Buloke is a tough wood considered the hardest wood on Earth. Yet, compared to steel, it is still less hard than steel. It has less Modulus of Rupture and Compressive strength than steel. It also has less compressive strength compared to concrete.
Is it Harder than Aluminum?
Although steel is harder than Australian Buloke, this wood is harder than aluminum. Australian Buloke has a hardness rating of 22,500 N, while aluminum only has 15,000 N. Nevertheless, it still depends on the aluminum grade you are comparing to Australian Buloke.
Yet, it is generally harder than aluminum. Besides, aluminum is somewhat soft. Ironwood or Australian Buloke, of course, is incredibly hard.
Can You Use Australian Buloke on Boat Decks?
Australian Buloke is amazingly hard and expensive. Thus, it is not recommended for use on boat decks. So, if I were you, I would rather not use it for boat decks. Instead, I will choose other wood types best suited for boat decks. Besides, it is hard to work with and plane without getting tear-outs. Nevertheless, you can buy this wood in small planks for turning.
The Australian Buloke is a rare wood species because of its remarkable hardness. It is the hardest wood that is available in the market today. As such, it is no doubt durable and long-lasting. Its use comes with many advantages. Yet, it is hard to work with and is not ideal for use by beginners. So, if you are a beginner in woodworking, I recommend other softer wood types to get the hang of woodworking.
Australian Buloke, of course, is decreasing in number because many forests where it grows get cleared for planting cereal crops. Thus, despite being commercially available, it is rarely available anywhere in the world.
Liam is a 37-year-old woodworker and interior designer who loves to make every furniture project an art piece. He is very experienced in furniture design and woodworking project planning.