Wondering About Wenge
Why do we keep woodworking? Well, there are probably as many answers to that question as there are woodworkers making sawdust, week in and week out, for their lifetimes.
Here’s one of the reasons why woodworking just never loses its allure for me: the chance to try a new species. I have that very opportunity on a project I’m building for our June issue, and this time the species is wenge. Rob tells me this central African hardwood can be splintery, and it glues up well. I’ve seen its almost black, coarse-grained goodness on the rack at my favorite lumberyard. I’m positive I’ve even pushed a few of these boards around on their stack, just to take a closer look at it. But in 30 years I’ve never had the occasion to buy some. Now I do!
What will my experience with it be? I wonder how it will smell when I run it through the saw for a first rip cut. Will I be impressed when I whisk off an oxidized face on the jointer to reveal what’s underneath? How about its hardness, grain structure and color variation? Are there any bad surprises I’ll discover that might temper my enthusiasm when making project parts? Perhaps I’m destined for a big splinter in my thumb. We’ll see! But whatever the outcome is, how many hobbies offer the variety of raw materials we have with woodworking? It’s a journey of discovery and a delight to the senses with every new species we try. I’ll bet you’re nodding your head in agreement with me. The addiction is real, but how lucky are we?!
Chris Marshall, Woodworker’s Journal
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