Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wood of the Week: Padauk

Each week I will feature a different wood and discuss its qualities.
One tip to knowing more about wood is to understand the distinction between a hardwood and softwood. Not all hardwoods are hard and not all softwoods are soft. Most simply, hardwoods are from trees with leaves and softwoods are from trees with needles.

Padauk (pronounced- padook),
also called Barwood and Camwood,
is a straight grained hardwood from regions in Africa and Asia.
The bright or deep red color is what it is best known for and why it is considered a "dyewood".
The saw dust can stain your clothes, leaving them pinkish. Padauk wood, while being milled emits a warm-hot chocolate-like aroma.
(Wikipedia claims that African women have used it as deodorant)
It's very easy to cut, sand and carve.
It stays straight and is not too chippy.
Paduak works well for interior trim and furniture-some have even used Padauk as flooring.
It finishes well with linseed oil and paste wax.
Padauk is a beautiful hardwood and is very very red.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the info on padauk.
however i find it difficult to determine whether
this wood is considered sustainable.
i have read several definitions of sustainability- from sustainable plantations growing endangered wood and unsustainable practices logging sustainable species.
very confusing.
an still it does not answer the question on whether
the sensitive woodworker would advise against using paduak.
thanks for your help,
jeff k.

Anonymous said...

"It's very easy to cut, sand and carve" ???
I've heard quite the opposite ! Padauk is a very dense and strong wood, quite difficult to cut.

also.. padauk's color change from deep red to dark brown (even sometimes to very dark purple) when exposed to sunlight...

The Sensitive Carpenter said...

In answer to comment #1
A Sensitive Woodworker might not want to use wood at all if they are too is a slippery slope.
It's always a good idea to check the certification of the lumber you purchase-any vendor can supply that information if requested.

Comment #2
Ease is subjective-it cuts evenly, sands evenly and with the right tools is very workable.
I suggest to avoid putting the wood in direct sunlight to keep the Padauk red.
Yet some appreciate how wood patinas over time.

Thanks for the comments

Rob Clack said...

Interesting post. I'm close to finishing a cubist-style figure using padauk and would like the colour to stay as bright red as possible.

Is it just exposure to sunlight (I assum UV) that darkens it, or is it also oxidising?

If the latter, what would you recommend to seal it? I was planning to use white French polish.

The Sensitive Carpenter said...

Hi Rob,
I do believe it's mostly UV, but I'm sure oxidation does occur.
The french polish sounds great (or any alcohol based finish) to seal it.
You could do a couple different tests and see how the wood tans with UV exposure.
Another test that may or may not work would be to try tinting your finish with padauk dust and straining it.
But, the french polish is most likely the best idea.
Good Luck!

Rob Clack said...


Finally finished my Reclining Nude in padauk and I'm really pleased with her, so wrote a blog posting about her, complete with photo, here. She's not cubist at all; I'm not sure what you'd call the style.

I just used straight white French polish and I think the colour has come up really well.

Thanks for your encouragement!

Unknown said...

I am not really sure if African women really used it as a deo. I am just recovering from a throat infection and viral fever that happened just after I had to cut a piece of padauk with a jigsaw and then file it, I got a little late to put my mask on, by the time the dust had already affected my throat. Keep away from that dust. Otherwise its simply great wood to work with and gives plenty of satisfaction. I am a luthier.

Unknown said...

that was a good info about padauk.
where can i find info about these woods ?

Unknown said...

What is the best glue to glue padauk? Can you use titebond 11 or do you need a 2 part epoxy?

Dorian Saina said...

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