Crucifixes and Musical instrument parts, Including black piano and Harpsichord keys, Violin, Viola, Guitar, Double bass, Cello fingerboards, Tailpieces, Pegs, Chinrests, Handgun grips and Rifle fore-end tips and Bow frogs. Many plectrums or Guitar picks are made from this black wood as well.

Ebony is a dense black wood, most commonly yielded by several species in the genus Diospyros, but may also refer to other heavy, black (or dark colored) woods from unrelated species. Ebony is dense enough to sink in water. It is finely-textured and has a very smooth finish when polished, making it valuable as an ornamental wood. Species of ebony include Diospyros ebenum (Ceylon ebony), native to southern India and Sri Lanka; Diospyros crassiflora (Gabon ebony), native to western Africa; and Diospyros celebica (Makassar ebony), native to Indonesia and prized for its luxuriant, multi-colored wood grain.

Color/Appearance

Heartwood is usually jet-black, with little to no variation or visible grain. Occasionally dark brown or grayish-brown streaks may be present.

Grain/Texture

Grain is usually straight but can also be interlocked. Fine even texture with very high natural luster.

Endgrain

Diffuse-porous; medium to large pores in no specific arrangement, few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; black mineral deposits present; growth rings indistinct; rays not visible without lens; parenchyma reticulate/banded, possibly marginal, apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates, paratracheal parenchyma vasicentric.

Rot Resistance

Ebony is rated as being very durable, with good resistance to termites and other insects.

Workability

Can be difficult to work due to its extremely high density. Has a dulling effect on cutters. Tearout may occur on pieces that have interlocked or irregular grain. Due to the high oil content found in this wood, it can occasionally cause problems with gluing. Finishes well, and polishes to a high luster. Responds well to steam bending.

Allergies/Toxicity

Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Ebony in the Diospyros genus has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability

Gaboon Ebony is among the most expensive of all available lumbers: usually about two to three times more expensive than most species of Rosewood. The small size of the tree, and its high demand for ornamental work may contribute to its seemingly outlandish price.

Sustainability

This wood species is in CITES Appendix II (for Diospyros species from Madagascar), and is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as endangered due to a population reduction of over 50% in the past three generations, caused by exploitation.

Perfect Fit

Crucifixes and Musical instrument parts, Including black piano and Harpsichord keys, Violin, Viola, Guitar, Double bass, Cello fingerboards, Tailpieces, Pegs, Chinrests, Handgun grips and Rifle fore-end tips and Bow frogs. Many plectrums or Guitar picks are made from this black wood as well.

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