The Beauty of Padauk

The Beauty of Padauk

Padauk (Latin: Pterocarpus soyauxii) comes from central and tropical West Africa from South Western Nigeria all the way to Zaire. It also grows in Malaysia. The trees are known as Burma Padauk, Andaman (it grows in the Andaman Islands) and African Padauk.

Padauk’s Aren’t Climbing Trees!

The trees may reach a height of between 100 and 130 feet with a trunk diameter ranging from 24 inches to 60 inches. The boles are straight and without subsidiary branches up to around 70 feet – not ideal climbing trees! They are sometimes referred to as Camwood Trees, Barwood or African Coralwood. Padauk flowers are a gorgeous bright yellow, carry a light perfume and cluster on the branches like Lilac.

The Buddhist Myanmar lunar month, ‘Tagu’, will traditionally fall in April, the month of the Myanmar New Year. At this time of year the Padauk tree symbolizes the hopes and wishes of the New Year as it brings in the Thingyan Festival and the tree represents strength and durability to the Myanmar people.

Padauk is stunningly beautiful with its vivid red lustre and darker hues that darken even more with age, to a purplish brown. Harder than oak, it is tough, tactile, resistant to termites and responsive to light. Ideal for cabinet making and popular with luthiers and makers of musical instruments such as flutes, it is sturdy yet color rich and will not warp. A guitar made from Padauk will produce exceptional tone.
As beautiful as Padauk is when freshly timbered, it improves with age and darkens, taking on an appearance reminiscent of aged Rosewood. Flooring made of Padauk has a warm glow and an attractive reddish appearance, similar to Cherrywood.

The heart of newly cut Padauk is bright orange in color but of course darkens to a less garish hue and can even turn almost black. One of the best features of Padauk is that its color is dramatically beautiful and may be left unstained to acquire its own unique personality. Oil finishes can accelerate the wood’s natural ageing process. Furniture manufactured with Padauk is solid, heavy and long lasting.
This is a prince among woods for carving with its vibrant finish but can misbehave in the hands of a novice – the sap and sawdust are both irritants with a pungent odor and care should be taken when carving the wood in its raw state as a splinter from Padauk will infect and burn persistently for some time. It is important to use tools that are ultra sharp as the wood is exceptionally hard and resistant.
An item manufactured with Padauk will last for many years with proper care: kitchen products such as natural wood salad services and chopping woods may be sterilized easily without losing their aesthetic beauty. As the wood ages it acquires an attractive patina. It polishes well. Padauk products in the home tend to last forever…
Photograph credits:

Padauk – a Long Lasting Favorite

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