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The other red woods

Spice up your projects with a touch of crimson.

Want to add a splash of color to a project? Then check out these four red-hot exotics. Though pricey, they're available, at least in small sizes, from dealers in exotic hardwoods, as well as from catalogs. Consider using them for unique small projects or as accents on larger ones.

Redheart (Erythroxylon spp.) This Central American hardwood boasts a bright-red color when freshly cut that darkens to deep red over time. The wood features tight, straight grain, making it suitable for turning. It also machines well using carbide-tipped tools, but has a tendency to burn. This wood isn't the easiest to find, and usually sells as turning blanks or in sizes less than 1 board foot. Cost, in spite of the wood's relative scarcity, runs about $10 per board foot.

Chakte kok (Sickingia salvadorensis) Also often referred to as redheart, this more-widely-available wood hails from Central America as well. Its color ranges from pinkish to bright red, with streaks of purple and brown. Maintaining the wood's vivid colors requires a finish that protects against ultraviolet light, or the wood will fade to a golden tan. Common uses for chakte kok include turning, marquetry, and inlay. Again, expect to pay $10 or more per board foot.

Bloodwood (Brosimum paraense) This hard, heavy wood goes by several other names, including cardinalwood and satine. Many describe its color as strawberry red, with streaks of gold. Over time, it darkens to reddish brown. Growing in Central and South America, you may find it difficult to buy, though 1-2' pieces known as "shorts" are available. Expect to pay about $12-$15 per board foot. Bloodwood demands sharp tools and light passes, but yields high luster.

Padauk (Pterocarpus soyauxii) The most common among our crimson collection, African padauk comes in 4/4 and 8/4 thicknesses, lengths up to 8', and sells for $7-$9 per board foot. It starts out red orange, and darkens to brown over time.


Comments (5)
dlistiak wrote:

I have used all except Chakte Kok. Bloodwood changes to a not attractive brown. Padauk can go as far as black. Red Heart retains its color the best. Linseed oil - a finish I no longer use - seems to hasten the darken process.

5/28/2014 08:57:14 AM Report Abuse
wdsandman wrote:

Of the four woods I have only used Padauk. I put an unfinished White Ash Rhombs pattern parquet in my small office and the set up a jig to route a 3/4" groove about 12" from the wall and glued Padauk in this groove. Sanded the whole floor and put three coats of a water-borne urethane finish. That was 17 years ago and it is still as red as the day I put it in.

5/15/2014 05:04:41 PM Report Abuse
dlistiak wrote:

Redheart is the best

1/27/2013 10:03:07 AM Report Abuse
drkerns1 wrote:

Its been my experience that bloodwood holds its hue the best over time. It's a great wood to work with, except for two main problems: 1) It is a dense wood and tough on tools. 2) The sawdust it creates is very fine and powdery, almost like flour, and it gets EVERYWHERE, like sheetrock dust. Enjoy, Dan (Danny's Woodshop)

1/24/2013 02:19:53 PM Report Abuse
terry153287890 wrote:

I get it about red woods. But, which one of these retains the red color the BEST over time, given average in house living conditions?? That would be the one that I would want to use!

1/24/2013 11:49:05 AM Report Abuse

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