Wallpaper from Wood Samples
[WP09Lignum Vitae(Guaiacum officinale)
This wood grows in the West Indies and Tropical America. This is probably the heaviest commercial timber with its density averaging 77 pounds per cubic foot (1230 kilograms per cubic meter), and some pieces going up to 89 pounds per cubic foot (1425 kilograms per cubic meter). The heartwood color is greenish-brown to almost black, and subject to a wide variation in pattern. Lignum vitae is very oily, containing up to 30% of its weight as resin in the form of a natural gum. The presence of this high oil content has given this wood self-lubricating properties and led to its primary use as ship's propeller bushes and bearings. Because of its durability and resistance to water, it was used for wassail bowls in the 17th and 18th centuries. It will take and hold very fine ornamental turning cuts without splintering or whiskering and takes a fine polish from the tool. It can check with very fine cracks, however, after being put in use and so great care must be taken to see to its proper dryness. Being so oily, a light buffing or rubbing with a soft cloth brings up a bright sheen on a finished surface.
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Last revised February 4, 1996.