Common Names: Wenge
Scientific Names: Millettia laurentii
Why we use for Bokken: Beautiful wood! The light and dark grains make this wood like having two woods in one. The lighter color striations have properties of softwood and the darker striations have properties of hardwood.
Appearance: Heartwood is a very dark brown with black streaks. But unlike most other woods, Wenge is reported to become lighter when exposed to light.
Grain: Has a straight grain and a coarse texture. Wenge also has very large pores that can present a challenge to fill if a perfectly smooth/leveled finish is desired.
Durablility: Very durable, and resistant to termite attack.
Scent: Wenge has a faint, slightly bitter scent when being worked.
Safety: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, breathing Wenge wood dust has been reported to cause central nervous system effects, irritation of the skin and eyes, and is a sensitizer. Also, Wenge splinters tend to take longer to heal and are more likely to go septic (get infected) than splinters from other woods.
Availability: Tends to be on the high side, close to other exotic tropical hardwoods such as Cocobolo or Zebrawood.
Other Comments: Wenge has excellent strength and hardness properties, and is commonly used for flooring, tool handles, paneling, and furniture. Wenge, along with the closely related Panga Panga, are both dark enough to be used as a substitutes for ebony.