If you’ve gotten into woodworking as a hobby and are looking into making something special and unique, then you might be considering exotic varieties of wood.
The 12 most exotic kinds of wood for woodworking include Mahogany, Canary, Jarrah, Bamboo, Ebony, Katalox, Burmese Blackwood, Mopane, Chakte Viga, Desert Ironwood, Black Locust, Padauk African lumber, Goncalo Alves, and Purple Heart Lumber. The cost and details vary significantly between each type.
With so many options to choose from, you truly have quite a surplus when getting a starting point for your next project. Whether you want to look at the different types of exotic woods and then choose your design, or you have a project in mind and want the wood to meet these needs, you are well on your way to success. Let’s take a closer look at the 12 most exotic kinds of wood for woodworking.
Just about anyone who has any woodworking experience (or even those who do not) have heard of mahogany. After all, it is beautiful, rich in color, and can be used to build some incredible projects. However, high-quality exotic mahogany is not just your average mahogany.
For example, Honduras Mahogany is a particular type of mahogany known for its impeccable strength considering its moderate weight and softness. This type of wood is even known to be good for marine use and boasts a strength that is not comparable to many other exotic wood types.
Along with that, this beautiful exotic mahogany (like a few other types within this category) are known for their beautiful amber coloration that darkens with enhanced exposure. There is nothing quite like the glow of a beautiful new piece made of exotic mahogany.
Fortunately, exotic mahogany is not the most expensive item on this list, although finding a high-quality piece will be a pretty decent search. However, if you happen to come across the right piece with its beautifully consistent grain, then you would be sad to have passed this type of wood up.
When you think of canaries, you likely think of a small little songbird singing in the trees- not the trees themselves. However, Canary is a beautiful type of exotic wood that you will not want to pass up when you find it.
This beautiful wood is a bit lighter in color as it boasts a gorgeous golden tint of orange and yellow. However, just because it is lighter in color does not mean that it is entirely light in its structural soundness.
Contrarily, Canary is known for its particular resistance to rot as it has high durability that far surpasses many other types of wood. This type of exotic wood is also known to be a bit heavier and denser than other wood types, so you might find it better suited for larger woodworking projects.
With that said, this type of wood can be incredible for woodworking as it has a beautiful finish and is relatively easy to work with even though it is denser than many other types of wood. Although it is more commonly straight with a few irregularities in the grain, you are sure to enjoy working with this type of exotic wood. And, you get what you pay for in terms of quality for this amazing type of wood.
Jarrah is yet another type of exotic wood that makes a list for so many reasons. It is quite a beautiful type of wood to work with, but it can offer so much more. If you are looking to make a unique piece, this will be the type of wood you will want to use.
Particularly, jarrah is known for its curved edges or curls, making an amazing addition (or centerpiece) for a more ornate project. It is suggested that you use caution with this type of exotic wood, considering the delicacy required to perform woodworking with “curled” pieces of wood.
However, if you know what you are doing, you will enjoy the richness that this amber brick combination of colors can offer for your next woodworking project. In fact, the cross-grain on this piece will likely make you forget about other types of wood for quite some time.
Since it is regional to Southwest Australia, it might be a little bit more difficult to come by-, but that is part of what makes it exotic in the first place. If you get your hands on this type of wood, be sure to bring it to your shop and hand it to your most trusted woodworker around.
Bamboo is certainly something that we have all heard of, and while not every woodworker would consider it an exotic wood (as it is really a plant), it is still worth mentioning that it can offer an incredible twist on the trade.
Particularly, working with bamboo is not going to be like working with most other types of wood. However, as the world around us grows more environmentally conscious, bamboo continues to rise in popular requests for various projects.
Everything from utensils, cutting boards, and even pieces of furniture are now being made with bamboo. If you want to stick with the trend, join the bamboo train.
Diving into the absolutely stunning realm of dark woods, ebony is an exotic wood that you will not want to pass up. Now, we are not just talking about those beautiful black and white keys on your keyboard, but there can be so much more done with the rich, dark black color of ebony wood.
I’ll usually make plugs out of ebony for screw holes. Once the piece is finished it turns out great.
Fortunately, whether you are new to woodworking or are beginning your first project, the uniqueness of using ebony (a dark wood) can help to elevate your project without even trying.
Of course, your woodworking skills will obviously shine through in the piece you create, but the beautiful color of ebony brings about such an elegance that is so desirable to be included.
Besides its beautiful dark color, ebony is known for its texture, which is fine- something silky when finished. In contrast, it is a heavier wood, so it is highly durable for large projects. It is no wonder that this type of exotic wood is so highly sought after in all of its juxtapositions.
Now, if you love the look of beautiful dark ebony but you are not quite up for the financial investment that it takes, Katalox is going to be your new favorite type of exotic wood. Katalox boasts a beautifully rich, dark color, too, although it is not quite as dark as ebony.
However, many people who are not familiar with Katalox often mistake it for the more well-known ebony. This can work out really well in your favor, as the use of dark wood will feel familiar to someone you are trying to impress.
And, let’s say this- impress you, it will. Katalox has a hint of purple amidst its deep black color, although you might even find a piece that has a hint of red in it. These are true stunners.
Interestingly, this type of wood is significantly less common in types of dark wood, but it has a straight grain, is exceptionally strong, and is known to be one of the most durable and stiff types of wood globally. This means that if you are trying to build a legacy or statement piece to be passed down for generations in your family, this is the way to go.
7. Burmese Blackwood
Alright, so we are still looking at dark woods here, but the Burmese blackwood offers something unique to its ebony and Katalox counterparts. After all, doesn’t every type of wood offer something a bit unique? Many people think that this type of exotic wood is almost like a generic version of the true ebony, but it is its own species.
This type of darker wood is exceedingly rare, and because of this, it is also known to be one of the more expensive types of exotic wood. However, once you see a piece of this type of wood, it will all make sense- especially if you are a seasoned woodworker.
Burmese blackwood has one of the most unique grains in the world. With unexpected turns and twists, you could marvel at a slab of Burmese blackwood for hours without growing bored.
This type of wood is hard to come by, so if you find a piece, bring it back to your shop for the love of woodworking.
As we inch away from some of the dark exotic woods that are great for woodworking, we will explore the realm of mopane- a wood that is not quite as dark as ebony, but the rich coloration is something that many other types of wood cannot compete with.
While some wood types require a stain to look this good, mopane elegantly shows off its natural beauty in the rich milk chocolate color, extreme density, and interesting grain patterns. While it most typically has a straight grain pattern, you can find some nooks and crannies that will leave you stunned by this exotic wood.
Along with that, the extreme density can make it a bit tough to work with, but since you will likely only find this type of wood in smaller chunks, you can know that the smaller pieces you are creating will be built to last- even if their size is not so large.
This gorgeous hardwood is also well-known for its natural acoustics, so if you plan to make a smaller, durable, wooden instrument, dish, or another piece like it, you have found your perfect type of exotic wood in mopane.
9. Chakte Viga
Chakte Viga, also known as Paela (not to be confused with the Spanish dish- paella), is yet another type of exotic wood that will truly wow you when you see some of the ways that it can be incorporated into your favorite woodworking projects.
Like mopane, Chakte Viga has incredible acoustic qualities that can make it highly sought after for this type of purpose. If you are looking for a type of wood to use for impressing by sight and sound, then this could be your pick.
Along with its beautiful acoustic properties, this gorgeous type of exotic wood has a brighter orange and red color combination that will allure both you and the person you prepare the project for. On the note of its coloration, it is known to keep the brighter color rather, so you can appreciate a lack of fading wood when you invest in this piece.
It is a bit pricier, so you might not have heard of it if you are not looking into more exotic, pricy wood types. But, if you have been on the fence about investing in Chakte Viga and its beautiful grain pattern, then now is the time to make your move.
10. Desert Ironwood
Now, if you are in the realm of woodworking that deals with smaller projects, particularly with knifemaking, there is no way that you have not heard of desert ironwood. However, if you have somehow not heard of this or not realized what a gem this type of wood is, then you are in for a treat.
Desert ironwood is a stunning type of exotic wood- one that is sought after for small handcrafts for a reason. Additionally, because it is known to have such beautiful coloration in alignment with its interesting grain pattern, it is popular for design work.
One of the main reasons this type of wood is so commonly used for knifemaking (along with other woodworking projects) is that it is incredibly durable and stable. When working on this wood piece, it does not tend to move like some other types of wood do. Instead, you can carve with ease along the grain pattern to create your next masterpiece.
With that in mind, you will likely only be able to find smaller sections of this type of wood, so knifemaking with the beautiful orange, black, and tan desert ironwood mix can make sense. Contrarily, attempting to find a piece large enough to build a family dining table (or even a large set of chairs) is likely out of reach.
11. Black Locust
While many seasoned woodworkers have heard of black locust, others find it a rare commodity that seems unheard of in some parts of the world, commonly participating in woodworking. For example, many parts of Europe boast beautiful projects that use black locust, but some parts of the United States have not even heard of this.
Either way, black locust is exotic in that it is a more rare wood, not just that it has or has not been heard of by many woodworkers. However, those who have heard of it can tell you just how beautiful this amber, tan wood, and why it is so highly sought after in some locations.
Even as a more exotic wood for woodworking, Black locust is more commonly available commercially than many other types of wood. Additionally, it can be found at an affordable price, especially compared to other exotic wood types.
With a straight grain pattern and a durable piece of wood, black locust is suitable for many of your larger woodworking projects.
12. Padauk African Lumber
Finally, we reach Padauk African Lumber- a beautiful type of exotic wood perfect for many woodworking projects. Padauk is known for its bright, rich, amber color that will make some other wood types almost look faded. When we say rich, this wood is rich in color.
One downside is that this color is known to fade if the wood is not properly treated and maintained. Compared to the Chakte Viga discussed above, this type of exotic wood requires a little bit more maintenance to keep its robust appearance.
With that said, the straight grain pattern and beautifully rich color bring this to the forefront for many woodworkers. Additionally, since it can be found for a moderate price and in a larger size (this type of lumber can be found at many specialty wood shops), it can be used for just about any woodworking project you have in mind.
So, whether you are working with a larger or a smaller project, Padauk African Lumber can be a beautiful choice for a durable, incredibly-designed piece.