Characteristics of Lyptus Wood

Cabinetmakers discuss the properties of this lesser-known but increasingly popular wood species. February 28, 2006

I have a customer who may want Lyptus for his cabinets. I've never used it. Ive got some lumber on the way so I can look it over and prepare some samples for him. What is it like to work with? How does it finish?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I haven't had the opportunity to use Lyptus yet, but I have researched it and found that Lyptus is quickly becoming one of the worlds most important hardwood lumbers, primarily because it represents a fully sustainable and renewable resource. As far as density, strength and technical properties, Lyptus compares favorably with hardwood maple. In appearance it rivals cherry and mahogany. Lyptus can be worked in the same way and with the same equipment as other premium hardwoods. It accepts all common types of finishing, including water and solution-based lacquers, various types of pigments, and oil and wax. This makes it well suited for diverse high-end applications like furniture, cabinets, flooring and architectural millwork.

From contributor B:
I recently completed a Lyptus kitchen and have to say that I really like working with it. It is affordable by the board foot, and the finish ply is about the same as hickory, alder, etc. It machines well and does not fuzz like mahogany. It sands well and definitely finishes very well. If you pocket hole the frames I would suggest fine thread screws, not high/low, as it will split. The look is great and a person would have a hard time distinguishing a finished part from mahogany, plus you get a little different look than the ordinary wood selections. I start my next Lyptus kitchen in less than a month.

From contributor C:
There was an article in CWB about a company that does a lot of work in Lyptus, and apparently they are doing great with it

From contributor D:
I have wanted to use Lyptus for quite some time now and my customers really wanted to see the wood in a cabinet before they chose it for themselves. I am actually going to be installing my brand new entertainment center for my new house that I built out of Lyptus later this week. Now my customers will have an example. I loved working with it, plus it finished great. No blotches and no toning required unless you want to adjust the shade. The color and grain look phenomenal. I liked it so much Im going to try and sell it as my number one material. Your customer will love it.

From contributor A:
Now I am going to have to go out and buy some just so I can check it out. Is it heavy like oak? What about the ding factor? Is it soft like Poplar?

From the original contributor:
I got some samples this week. It makes oak feel like balsa wood. What I got was heavy! I don't think you could ding it if you wanted to. I haven't tried cutting it yet, but it does sand well and looks good.

From contributor E:
I just finished a kitchen out of Lyptus. The pros are that it is hard like hickory, so it sands really nicely. It wont ding, and it stains beautifully. The cons are that it can splinter when machined. Achieving consistent colors is tough. It can be light like light mahogany or very dark, and it is heavy.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor J:
I just completed my stairwell and used lyptus for the stair parts, molding and trim. It really is a great wood to work with. It can splinter with heavily used tools, but sharp or sharpened tools seemed to prevent splintering. It also finishes extremely well. It stains very evenly due to the uniform grain pattern.

If you have trouble with even coloring, buy it 4/4 rough, plain it, then set it in direct sunlight for a few hours. Similar to Brazilian cherry, purpleheart and several other woods, the color will turn a rich cherry red and will even-out well. If you don't want to go that way, I also got fairly good results with a first seal coat using clear dewaxed shellac. I'm planning on redoing my kitchen and bathroom cabinets with lyptus.