What Types of Wood are Black?


You are sitting in a piano hall, joyfully contemplating the notes played on black and white keys. Or, perhaps you are admiring the beautiful decorative veneer or deep-colored furniture that immediately elevates a home’s interior design. What type of wood was used in these?

Many wood types are black, including the most common ebony (hardwood) and African blackwood (harder but less dense than Ebony). Other types of wood with at least a hint of black include ironwood, black palm, bog oak, Brazilian rosewood, and various types of blackwood and ebony.

There are so many factors to consider when it comes to finding the perfect type of wood to craft your latest woodworking piece. From the wood’s color to the grain, density, hardness or softness, and more, the factors that make up your selection process can become a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, with black wood, there are a few options that stand above the rest. Let’s take a closer look.

Are Ebony and Blackwood the Only Types of Wood that are Black?

If you are new in the world of beautiful wood, then you might find this as a surprise, but if you are someone who has been around this industry for a long time, then it might not shock you as much.

Interestingly, as you scour various wood databases and registries for the perfect type of wood to seek out in your dreams of dark wood craftsmanship, you might feel limited.

While Ebony and Blackwood (and their variations) are the most commonly used types of black wood, other types of black wood do exist. For example, ironwood, black palm, bog oak, and Brazilian rosewood all have at least some hint of black in them. However, the darkest black wood will be found in Ebony and Blackwood variations all over the world.

With that in mind, it is important to know that just because a database or wood registry classifies a type of wood as having black in it, this does not mean that you are going to find this to be a block of entirely dark wood.

Alternatively, you might find a type of wood like ironwood with streams of black running through it, but it is not mostly black. Instead, it is more true to its “iron” namesake in its rusty appearance.

Still, if you seek out various types of wood for your research into your latest woodworking project idea, it is good to know that you do not have to stop with ebony, blackwood, or either of their many variations. However, these two black types of wood do stand above the rest for an excellent reason.

When looking for dark black wood, ebony and blackwood (mainly African blackwood) are two of the most commonly used and interchanged types of black wood. They both have their own unique advantages and unique qualities.

So, when a woodworker chooses one over the other, this does not necessarily mean that one is inherently better. Instead, it means that the skilled woodworker knows what they are doing in selecting the perfect type of wood for the unique project they have in mind.

Still, if you want to get out of using ebony or a variation of blackwood, there are plenty of options to choose from. Though, you may find that the other types of wood that include black tones are not quite as dark throughout their entire surface.

Fortunately, if you are really struggling to find the darkest type of wood and are in a real bind, you can always choose to go with a lighter type of wood with as little visible grain pattern as possible to stain the wood a darker color.

Obviously, this is not the same as having an authentically dark (black) piece of wood. However, it can still be a solution if you are testing the waters or working on a piece that requires the color to be the height of the aesthetic rather than the impressive type of wood you have chosen to use.

What is the Difference Between Ebony and African Blackwood?

While there are many black and different types of wood, as mentioned above, ebony and African blackwood are two of the most commonly sought after types that woodworkers around the globe have grown to love for a variety of reasons. These reasons are vast, but before we start going down that list, you might be wondering what the difference is between these two types of dark black wood in the first place.

The main differences between ebony and African blackwood lie in their density, hardness, and overall ability to work with. Ebony is denser, less hard, and thus typically easier to work with than African blackwood. Ebony is also known for its tighter grain pattern, which can influence its design work and functionality.

Of course, every seasoned woodworker that has used both ebony and African blackwood might tell you that they prefer one over the other for a standard type of project. However, choosing between these two types of black wood generally comes down to personal preference. As you sort through your wood sourcing guides, you will also likely be influenced by price as well as availability.

With ebony beginning to become more restricted in its endangerment vulnerability in some regions, you might find that there are certain regional selections of ebony that are currently unavailable. Of course, the same can be said about African blackwood and other types of blackwood, but this is not always as clear.

Going back to personal preferences here, though, you might find that woodworkers are actually beginning to lean more heavily on choosing African blackwood (or another type of blackwood) compared to ebony for projects that require a more durable, long-lasting type of wood.

Since ebony is softer than African blackwood, it is more naturally going to experience warping or other aging signs. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to reverse. However, that does not mean that working with ebony is out of the question. If it were, you would not see the centuries-old traditional black wood floating through the latest guides on interior decor, handcrafted woodworking pieces, or more.

What is Black Wood Used For?

As you sort through the various types of wood that are black, you will find that there are many different reasons someone might choose to use this type of wood in the first place. While these options are not limited (considering the vast creativity that many woodworkers possess), there are certainly more common uses than others.

Blackwood (coming from ebony, African blackwood, or other wood sources) can be used for various purposes. Most commonly, black wood is used for interior uses such as decor, cabinetry, flooring, and intricate woodworking pieces for display. It can also be used to make stunning furniture.

In fact, using black wood for your furniture is one way that will immediately wow the guests who enter your home. With current trends of placing a neutral color on top of a neutral color next to yet another neutral tone, adding a type of wood that is black to your space can complement the other neutrals without allowing that piece to fade into the background.

Contrarily to fading, a black piece of furniture is sure to draw your attention way more than other more commonly used colors and stains on interior wood projects. You can still choose to incorporate some types of wood that are black but have various undertones to enrich the aesthetic and craftsmanship appeal even further.

For example, you could use a piece of African blackwood that shows off some of the purple hues that it is known to showcase, or you could even use another type of wood that has black in it, like ironwood or another that can demonstrate the bold pattern that black wood has to offer without necessarily using an entirely black piece of furniture within your home.

Either way, there are so many uses for different types of wood that are black that you cannot find a limit. With creativity, research, and woodworking craftsmanship, you can find the perfect piece of dark black wood to turn your next woodworking idea into a masterpiece.

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