Brazilian Tulipwood – Characteristics and Common Uses

Brazilian Tulipwood

Tulipwood is a popular wood used for building materials. In addition to Brazil, the wood can be found in the eastern half of North America and in parts of China.

Although it has no relation to poplars, it is often called the tulip poplar in North America.

The Brazilian tulipwood is noted for its density and high quality. And while part of the tulipwood family, this particular type can only be found in a relatively small part of Brazil.

Because of its attributes, it is quite popular and used to create many different types of items ranging from furniture to small art objects.

Brazilian Tulipwood

Scientific Name:Dalbergia decipularis (also Dalbergia frutescens)
Tree Size:20-30 ft (6-9 m) tall
less than 1 ft (.3 m) trunk diameter
Janka Hardness:2,500 lbf (11,120 N)
Type:Hardwood
Odor:The nice smell when working
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC):.88, .97
Common Uses:For fine furniture, marquetry and musical instruments (percussion)

Appearance

This particular wood is quite beautiful, if rather small. In addition to its appearance, it gives off a mild odor that is rather fragrant when being worked.

Color:

For the most part, the tulipwood is a combination of pink and brown colors. You may also find reds, yellows, and oranges in the mix as well.

Texture & Grain:

The texture of tulipwood is fine to very fine, making it a desirable wood for different uses. The grain is also quite straight for wood with pores that are medium size and tend to be open. 

The end grains are semi or ring-porous in nature. Overall, the wood itself offers many advantages in terms of how it can be worked.

Is Brazilian Tulipwood Toxic?

As far as toxicity or allergic reactions go, Brazilian tulipwood is on the mild side.

Most reactions are rather small with irritation of the eyes, skin, and the respiratory area being the most common in sensitive individuals.

Tulip Wood Workability

If there is a downside to Brazilian tulipwood, it is in the very attribute that makes it quite desirable.

That is its own density.

What makes it so resistant to insects and rot also makes it difficult to work with.

So dense that this wood can blunt cutting instruments and even resists adhesives due to the small nature of the pores.

However, the wood does turn quite well and will take a high polish which makes it even more attractive. When used for small turned objects, it can be quite beautiful.

Another issue is that the tree is relatively small and is often the size of a shrub. This limits the maximum size of objects that can be created from a single piece of Brazilian tulipwood.

When used to create larger objects, the boards from the tree tend to be quite small and narrow in nature.

What is Tulip Tree Wood Used for?

The Brazilian tulipwood is used for a wide variety of uses which include the following.

  • Fine Furniture
  • Marquetry
  • Musical Instruments
  • Small Objects
  • Veneer

As you might suspect, the high demand and small supply make Brazilian tulipwood quite expensive.

This means for the most part it is used for small, specialty items and pieces that accentuate larger objects.

It means that you probably will not find it used for making large furniture, but you may see accent pieces made from this remarkable wood.

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