Brazilian Ebony: Properties, Colors, Uses & Workability

Brazilian Ebony wood lumber and tables

The Brazilian Ebony is one of the hardest commercial hardwoods you can ever find in the market today. Its scientific name is Swartzia Tomentosa, with a 3,692 Janka Hardness rating. It is heavy and dense and comes with straight grain. Besides, it exhibits an almost black color, so it gets often referred to as Ebony. Yet, despite being darker in tone, you will still notice its grain pattern sans using any lens. 

When newly cut, Brazilian Ebony exhibits a vibrant yellow-orange color that turns dark after oxidation. Over time, it becomes darker and darker in tone. Moreover, it is equally dense as the African Ebony. Besides, these two hardwoods have almost the same workability and properties. Brazilian Ebony can grow up to 75 feet high and up to two feet in diameter. But you will seldom find this wood in clean and large boards. 

Characteristics and Properties of Brazilian Ebony Wood

If you intend to use Brazilian Ebony, it will be best to be cognizant of its properties and characteristics. This way, you will know if it is the ideal wood for your projects. Below are the succinct characteristics and properties of this wood:


The Brazilian Ebony comes in a wide range of hues and figures. You can find wood with solid colors and even colors. You will also find marbled-like and streaked figures on this wood. Its heartwood has near black to olive-brown color with darker or lighter markings. On the other hand, its sapwood is lighter and yellowish. 

After cutting this wood, you will notice that it has bright and bold colors and figures. Yet, after exposure to air and UV light, its brightness diminishes and turns darker mode with a subtler look. 

Physical Properties

Brazilian Ebony is hard and heavy. It is highly resistant to denting and shock and is best suited for steam bending. Its Modulus of Rupture is 202.0 MPa, and its Elastic Modulus is 31.15 GPa. Its Crushing Strength is 110.0 MPa. It doesn’t shrink much and is very stable as wood. It is also very resistant to decay and termite attacks. But it is vulnerable to marine borers.

Grain and Texture

The grain of Brazilian Ebony is often straight, though you will find irregular and interlocking grains likewise. This wood has a fine and even texture with excellent natural luster or sheen. It also has a very faint odor.

Common Applications and Usage of Brazilian Ebony

Brazilian Ebony gets also referred to as Brazilian Blackheart. It gets more often used for woodturning. Moreover, guitar manufacturers use it for the sides and backs of guitars. It gets also used for making knife handles. 

You will also find Brazilian Ebony used for making furniture, cabinets, and other specialty items. Besides, it gets used for making violin bows, musical instruments, veneer, and as a substitute for Ebony. 

Workability of Brazilian Ebony

Brazilian Ebony, with a Janka Hardness rating of 3,692 Jankas is a tough and dense wood. It is highly resistant to sanding and cutting. Thus, you will find it challenging to work with this wood using your hand tools. Yet, using your power tools, you can work this wood out. Besides, it has excellent turning properties. 

Using your machine tools, you can work this wood to smooth and clean joinery, provided you use crisp and sharp blades and cutters. Plus, you can produce a polished and marble-like finish with this wood. 

Brazilian Ebony will dull your blades and cutting tools faster compared to other woods. Besides, it contains high oil levels, making it difficult to glue. Nevertheless, it finishes nicely with a high sheen or luster. For this reason, it is suited for the sides and backs of acoustic guitars. 

Ho About Flooring Made of Brazilian Ebony?

You seldom find this wood as prefinished or unfinished planks, ready to be nailed down on the wood subfloor. Besides, you will seldom find this in engineered form with a top layer of veneer for installation over concrete. 

Moreover, this wood species is not common compared to Brazilian Teak and Cherry. Although it is not an endangered wood species, you will seldom find this wood because of stricter regulations on logging and a slower world economy. 

If ever you get a hand on this wood, you can use it as a clear-grade floor with evenly dark reddish-brown hues. If you apply an oil-based finish to this wood, you can age it and turn its color to a deeper brown. 

You can preserve its distinct natural brownish-red hue using de-waxed shellac or lacquer. You can also use water-based finishes on this wood to maintain its natural color. Yet, it may look milky because of its dark color.


Brazilian Ebony has many sterling characteristics you would love to find in wood. Yet, it is not the best wood for beginners because it is hard and dense. It will surely make the initial works of a beginners very difficult if they use this wood. 

If you play guitars, you might chance upon a guitar neck made of Brazilian Ebony. It has great acoustic and sonic properties that make it a favorite among manufacturers of guitars. Besides, its distinctive dark color makes it a highly sought-after wood for specific wood projects.  

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