Characteristics of Kingwood

Expensive, prone to movement, and maybe allergenic — but it sure is beautiful. March 12, 2006

I have a customer that designed some outdoor benches and he has provided me kingwood (Brazilian) for the project. I have never used this before. I took a small piece and planed it, hand scraped, and then used steel wool just to see what would happen, and found that it is a somewhat oily wood that polishes beautifully.

It has a very beautiful grain to it. My question however is this, is the dust hazardous? I have tried to research this lumber on the web and have found very little information on it. Is there anything else I need to know before working with this stuff such as shrinkage and gluing?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Kingwood is in the Dalbergia genus. Others in this genus are Honduras rosewood, Brazilian rosewood, and cocobolo. The latter has a note in the references I use that the dust can produce a rash like poison ivy.

From contributor W:
I think if you are not super allergic to wood dust these exotics won’t bother you anymore that anything else, although the dust will "smell" foreign to you. Just be cautious at first to see how or if it affects you. I don't think waiting until you experience an allergic problem is good advice. Researching a particular species, and wearing a top notch respirator (not a dust mask) when species info isn't available would be the prudent approach.

From contributor P:
I've worked with plenty of kingwood. It is very nice for fine furniture, reproduction work and small items. It would be the last wood I would use outdoors however. It is stable in small pieces that are well fitted and finished. It is prone to checking, cupping in anything wider than two inches. It will darken in service and it is very expensive and it will be a shame to use it for a bench. Scraping is better than sanding due to the oil. Wear a dust mask, or even a respirator. Everyone reacts to the dust differently, so beware.