Family: Fabaceae or Leguminosae, the legume family; the cassia group.
Origin: Cameroon, Gabon and the Ivory Coast.
Other common names: Essengang, Kevazingo, Kewasingo, Wako, Ovang, Akume, Amazakone,Eban, African Rosewood.
The tree: Bubinga is a big tree, commonly growing to a mature height of 130 to 150 ft. It usually has a long, clear bole up to three ft. in diameter and 30 to 60 ft. long. It has a very heavily buttressed base. Its alternate compound leaves are, on average, 4 in. long with two asymmetrical leaflets about 2 in. long that resemble butterfly wings.
Appearance: Heartwood is light, reddish brown and attractively veined with pink or red stripes. The sapwood is white in color. The luster is high and it is fine in texture with a wavy grain.
Density: Average reported specific gravity varies from .65 to .78(ovendry weight/green volume), equal to an air-dried weight of 51 to 62 pcf. Janka hardness is 1980 pounds of force.
Drying & shrinkage: To properly season, it has to be dried slowly. Average reported shrinkage values (green to ovendry) are 4% to 7.6% radial, 6.6% to 10.2% tangential and 9.4% 16.6% volumetric.
Working properties: Works well with hand and machine tools despite being very hard. Material may exude gum causing wear of cutting tools. Pre-boring is necessary for nailing. Cutting angle of 15 degrees when planing is recommended. Bubinga is excellent for turning but not for steam bending. It takes a fine finish. Possible adverse reactions from the dust and extractives include dermatitis and possible skin lesions.
Durability: It is highly resistant to termites and moderately resistant to marine borers.
Uses: Bubinga is used mostly as a veneer or paneling. Rotary-cut bubinga veneer, often referred to by the name “kevazingo,” is known for its wild swirls and bold figures. Rotary cutting follows a log’s annual growth rings, yielding multi-patterned markings and a very wide veneer cut that looks altogether different from veneer cut by any other method. It is also used in some high end furniture and fancy turnings.
Availability: It is imported to the U.S. in lumber form, the massive logs sometimes weighting as much as 10 tons and is available on the american market.