When it comes to building any structure made of wood, the kind of material used for the construction is crucial in ensuring the durability of the thing or building being made.
The kind of wood used for the construction often dictates the beauty of the final piece and how long it would last, even with regular use. But how hard is hard enough?
The answer depends largely on what the builder will use the wood for, but in general, the hardness of the wood means that even with regular wear and tear, the wood remains perfectly fine.
Despite the finish becoming scratched from regular use, the wood beneath the surface is intact and not rotting at all. This does not include the wood getting dented by some large force. But for most practical applications at home, a lot of hardwoods are really ‘hard enough’ to be used.
But the hardness of wood can be measured scientifically through the Janka hardness test, the most common one used for testing wood hardness.
The Janka scale rates the relative hardness of wood. This hardness scale rating has become the wood industry standard for determining whether a given wood is suitable for flooring material. Red Oak, which has a Janka rating of 1290, is the industry benchmark for comparing the relative hardness of different wood species.
The test measures how much force in Newtons (N) or pounds-force (lbf) is required to embed half the diameter of a 0.444″ (11.28 mm) diameter steel ball into the wood.
The larger the number, the harder the wood as it would require more force to embed the same size of the steel ball.
Builders looking for the hardest wood need to check out these top 10 known to be the hardest lumber in the world.
Though there are a number of small trees and shrubs that might have made it to this list, these were excluded from the list due to lack of practicality in using these as building materials due to unreliability of the material, lack of reliable documentation for use, and due to the unavailability of the wood because it is extremely hard to find or the tree is too small to yield a lot of usable materials.
10 – Cebil (Anadenanthera colubrina)
With the hardness listed as 3,630 lbf (16,150 N), Cebil ranks tenth on the list.
This wood is also known as the Curupay or as the Patagonian Rosewood; though the latter name is an exaggeration as this material is not a true rosewood.
The Cebil features a highly variable streaked appearance and has the lightest color in all the woods on this list.
9 – Katalox / Wamara (Swartzia spp. / S. cubensis)
Under the Swartzia genus, the Katalox or Wamara might have a strange name but it’s got a hardness of 3,655 lbf (16,260 N), putting this ninth on the list.
What makes this wood extra special is that it offers wide variations to fit what the builder wants as some variants are reddish brown with black streaks while others could be as black as true ebony.
8 – Black Ironwood (Krugiodendron ferreum)
Although a hardwood with a hardness of 3,660 lbf (16,280 N), Black Ironwood rarely gets used to build homes and other large structures due to this material actually coming from trees that are too small to produce commercially viable wood.
However, this still makes it to the list due to the fact that enough wood could still be gathered to be used in small turning projects.
7 – African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon)
Plenty of historical evidence suggest that the African Blackwood which has a hardness of 3,670 lbf (16,320 N) is actually the original ‘ebony’.
This wood is believed to have achieved ‘legendary status’ in many parts of the world for its beauty and hardness.
6 – Camelthorn (Vachellia erioloba)
The Camelthorn has been categorized into south African hardwood after spending years identified as a member of the Acacia genus.
Its wood has a hardness of 3,680 lbf (16,370 N) and often described as ‘stubbornly hard’. Huge giant thorns cover this tree, giving it its unique name.
5 – Verawood (Bulnesia arborea)
With its lovely feathery pattern and beautiful olive-green color, the Verawood is an excellent choice for wood material.
Not only does it offer a hardness of 3,710 lbf (16,520 N), this wood is also readily available and is quite inexpensive.
4 – Snakewood (Brosimum guianensis)
Offering a hardness of 3,800 lbf (16,900 N), the snakewood is an excellent wood not just because the material is hard but also because of its beautiful and unique pattern.
Just as its name suggests, the Snakewood has unique patterns that make it look like the skin of a snake.
But it is extremely rare, this wood is very expensive and not practical for use in building homes. It’s actually considered to be among the most expensive woods in the world!
3 – Gidgee (Acacia cambagei)
This member of the Acacia family is endemic only in Australia. The Aussies are lucky to get their hands on this wood as it has a hardness of 4,270 lbf (18,990 N).
With its dark coloring, the Gidgee is often used as a substitute for ebony. Builders who used this material know it’s harder than the original.
2 – Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum officinale)
Best known as the ‘hardest wood in the world’, the Lignum Vitae has a hardness of 4,390 lbf (19,510 N).
It is actually such an excellent and popular building material that it has now been listed under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) as an endangered species.
Trade of wood listed under CITES is restricted. Lignum Vitae is listed under Appendix II.
Though the species is not as closely regulated as those in Appendix I, restrictions for this wood also includes finished wood products.
This means that the sale of these items is prohibited unless you can provide proof that this was built before the listing date – and it’s 2/13/2003 for Lignum Vitae.
But even if you have evidence that the object was built before this date, it is still illegal to take the finished product you bought across international borders, unless you have a proper export permit.
1 – Quebracho (Schinopsis spp.)
Known as the hardest and heaviest wood in the world, the Quebracho got its name from the Spanish term quebrar hacha – and that means ‘axe breaker’.
With a hardness of 4,570 lbf (20,340 N) it really lives up to its name.
Contact us or email us with your questions, comments or tips. Read more trending news here at HenSpark!