African Padauk Wood Species Information & Its Applications to Wood Projects
There are more than a dozen padauk species that grow throughout the tropical regions of the world. The majority of African Padauk grows in the equatorial rain forest regions of Central West Africa. More specifically it grows most abundantly in Angola and from Southwest Nigeria to Zaire. Other species of padauk grow in India, as well as the Southeastern countries of Burma and Malaysia. It is a fast growing tree that thrives in hot, humid climates, and has a low tolerance to cold. Also, it grows best in fertile soils that range from sandy to loam, and are slightly acidic. Padauk trees can be found near creeks, lakes, and seasonal flood areas near the coast, and even in the foothills at elevations near 1000 feet.
African Padauk is a very beautiful wood with vibrant colors. Its colors can range from a bright and vivid reddish-orange to a dark purple-brown. Compared with other exotic woods, padauk is moderately hard, strong, and stiff, with an average weight of 47 lbs/cu. ft. Also, it typically has a coarse texture with open pores, and a straight to interlocked grain pattern. Padauk ranks high for bending and crushing strength, as well as for shock resistance, so denting is rarely a problem. Like many exotic tropical species, padauk is considered an oily wood. Because of this oily characteristic it is very durable, and can resist insects, decay, and moisture.
Padauk can be worked well with power equipment and hand tools, but care must be used when jointing and planing, due to possible tearing of the grain. Set the equipment for 1/32" cuts to help minimize this problem. Also, since padauk has a dulling effect on tools, carbide tipped tools are recommended for best results. Padauk wood is not suitable for bending purposes, but is well suited for carving and turning projects. It holds fasteners very well, but pre-drilling is necessary. If the proper grit sizes are used, padauk can be sanded smooth, without scratches. Most glue types can be successful if the natural oils are removed with acetone prior to applying the adhesive. If great stress is to be applied to the joints, polyurethane type glue is recommended because of its superior strength. Wood grain filler should be used to fill the open pores prior to applying finishing coats. Padauk accepts most stains very well, but due to its natural beauty, stains are rarely necessary. If a clear finish is used, it should include an ultra violet inhibitor to reduce the wood's tendency to darken with time. Teak oil works well with padauk and includes ultra violet protection. Wax coats will polish to a high luster, but occasional coats are required to help protect its surface and maintain its appearance.
Common uses for African padauk include: flooring, cabinets, fine furniture, veneer, musical instruments, and decorative carvings. Padauk is a good accent wood, and has uses for inlay work such as marquetry. It is also an excellent wood for turning projects, such as bowls, pool cues, tool handles, decorative pens, and various novelty items.