Common Names: Cumaru, Brazilian Teak, Tonka Bean
Scientific Names: Dipteryx odorata
Why we use for Bokken: Almost the exact same characteristics of Ipe, but a lighter color to the wood. Also called Brazilian Teak.
Appearance: Heartwood tends to be a medium to dark brown, sometimes with a reddish or purplish hue; some pieces may have streaks of yellowish or greenish brown. Unlike most other woods, Cumaru’s color tends to lighten with exposure to light.
Grain: Has a fine, uniform grain and texture, with very small open pores. The grain is nearly always interlocked to some degree.
Durablility: Cumaru has excellent durability and weathering properties. The wood is rated as very durable regarding decay resistance, though it may be susceptible to some insect attacks.
Scent: Cumaru has a faint, vanilla or cinnamon-like odor when being worked.
Safety: There have been no adverse health effects associated with Cumaru. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Availability: Should be inexpensive for an import. Cumaru, much like Jatoba, represents a great value for those seeking a low-cost lumber that has excellent strength and hardness properties.
Other Comments: Wood of the species Dipteryx odorata is most commonly called Cumaru among most woodworkers, though it is sometimes referred to as Brazilian Teak as well: primarily when used as hardwood flooring. (Brazilian Teak is not related to the wood that is most commonly called Teak, Tectona grandis.) Cumaru is also called by the name Tonka Bean, and the tree is commonly cultivated for its vanilla-cinnamon scented seed—the tonka bean—which contains a chemical compound called coumarin. Cumaru lumber is extremely stiff, strong, and hard, lending itself well to a variety of applications. It is sometimes used in place of the much more scarce Lignum Vitae. Some common uses for Cumaru include: flooring, cabinetry, furniture, heavy construction, docks, railroad ties, bearings, handles, and other turned objects.