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Anyone used Jatoba with good results?

15455 Views 22 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  jusfine
I purchased about 60 bd feet of 8/4 Jatoba and I'm ready to burn the whole pile of it. Might be toxic though…

I have never used a material that twisted and bowed and checked like this stuff does. It was sitting on a pallet at my wholesale supply, and I asked what the price was, and since it was reasonable, I bought some for myself and a friend.

Some of the pieces were 18" wide x 10' long, most being about 10-12" wide.

I carefully stacked it in the loft of the barn, and took one piece into the shop to see what it would look like finished. After leaving it a couple days to acclimate to the shop temperature, I couldn't believe how it checked along the length of the piece, and not just a bit on the surface, it is deep.

After cutting a two foot piece off, I flattened it on the Performax and took it to the bandsaw to slice it up. I have cut a few hundred board feet on the bandsaw but never heard a crack as loud as this was when it got close to the end of the first cut. There must be tremendous internal pressure in this material.

It is extremely heavy material, but at 8% moisture content, I don't undstand why it behaves like this…

Anybody with a good experience?
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This wood is used mostly on out door projects, it belong to the teak family. It would make some great out door furniture or decking. Don't try and dry it to a low moisture content because it will become very brittle and crack when it absorbs the heat from the saw blade. The next problem you'll have is trying to keep its beautiful color on it once it's exposed to the outdoors. It will gray very fast but will hold up for years due to its density.
I got quite a bit of it from a friend. It was used as door thresholds from a custom door mfg. and I've had good results with it. Yes, it's very hard, I think avg specific gravity is .96 or something close to that. Used it in a few end grain cutting boards, a base for a butcher block and still have some sitting on the rack… No twisting like you're experiencing though. Here's some pics….

Brown Wood Rectangle Floor Flooring

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Jatoba may very well be my favorite wood. it's true that it's very hard, and somewhat difficult to work with. I find it rather like maple in its tendency to tear out. It's difficult to plane. However, it has gorgeous color and grain patterns, and it sands and finishes wonderfully.
I laid a Jatoba floor in our new house 8 years ago and it has held up wonderfully. It is very hard and the sapwood is nearly as hard as the heartwood which makes for an interesting floor patern. These photos don't nearly do it justice. When just the red colored heartwood is used it is generally called Brazilian cherry.

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Jatoba is sometimes referred to as "Brazilian Cherry". It's coloring is a little like cherry but it is much harder than cherry.

I have used it on some small pieces (boxes). I do quite a bit of work with the extra hard exotics (bloodwood, bubinga, paduck, goncola alves, ipe, etc.) I don't find the jatoba to be any more difficult to work with than these other extra hard woods. It's a pretty wood and it is relatively inexpensive. Unlike the various rosewoods I work with, it is not oily and it glues up very nicely.
I use it as on some of my glue up boards, and boarders.
It's very hard, dulls blades and is difficult to screw and nail.

It's a beautiful red grain and worth the effort.

I have not had any troubles with splitting and curling.
I've used it in cribbage boards and as accent inlay and trim on many furniture projects. Never had a problem. It finishes beautifully also.
I turned a game call out of it once. I remember it dulling my tools quickly & taking forever to sand. At the end, to be honest, the piece was a bit boring in appearance. I don't think I've used it since but if I had 60 board feet of it, I'd find a way to use it!
It sounds like almost everyone who has responded has used smaller pieces, and I would love to make something substantial out of it, but what I have seen so far with the warping and twisting makes me very nervous.

I did make a small box (2" high) my wife needed to display the jewelry she sells, but I sliced the pieces from the thickness of the planks so they look to be quartersawn and it hasn't moved a bit.

The deep checking and twisting is a real problem. I will post a few photos later tonight.

I really like the floor, Bob, I like the sapwood too!
Jatoba can be used in furniture making. However, in lower humidity areas, I recommend you plan the project carefully and mill and glue up sections as you go. The wood in plank form is quite unstable. I have used it in Brazil for decking and deck beams and have seem some very nice furniture made from it.
As far as checking, I believe the wood was dried too quickly and had internal stress build up. Not to uncommon if the wood was kiln dried and did not have some humidity re-introduced at the plant to equalize the internal and external fibers.
Thanks John, so is it expensive firewood or what can be done with it? I could make half a million boxes 2" high…
Now that you mention it, I think I made a game call because that's the largest straight piece I could garner from my stock once milled. You defnitely see more glue-ups from smaller pieces.
Here are a few photos, hope you can see clearly the amount of checking and twisting. The fourth photo was taken at about 5' from one end of an 11' piece.

It was interesting that I ripped a few pieces vertically about 2' long and they have not moved or checked at all. Last photo.

Thanks for all your ideas and help!

This piece was planed flat and after a day it curled almost 3/4 inch.

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Can't see the pics Randy. I haven't used it a whole lot, but what I have used, I thought it worked quite easily for as dense as it is. I'm with John O., it may have been dried to quickly. Maybe Blake can help you out a little more. He made this credenza from large slabs of Jatoba.

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I bought around 500 bd ft of the stuff once. A lot of it got burnt because of the twisting and checking, sometimes multiple checks through the whole board. I'm thinking that the worst of the stuff was rushed through the kiln and they fried it.Looks OK as long as its stacked in an outbuilding but bring it into a warm dry shop and watch out. I managed to save some of it to use in smaller projects but you have to be careful to acclimate it well lest it twist and split in a project
Thanks Brad and Mike and Judy!

Not sure why the photos don't show up.. ?

I did take some time to acclimate the material, brought it into the shop and covered it with cardboard to start with for a few days, but maybe it was still too dry too fast… The other pieces still in the cool storage area are cracking and warping too…

I could maybe make a bunch of pen blanks… seems like a real waste as I had planned a furniture project for it.
I've used about 300Bdft. I bought a while back. Haven't had any problems with it twisting or warping. None. It is extremely hard and heavy. I also think it's a very interesting wood to look at.
I bought a few 1" x 14" wide x 10' boards in Reno, NV a few years ago. It had been shipped to Higgens Lumber from the Ca. coast. In the unit from which I picked my boards, most were warped, cracked and twisted. My boards remained flat and the one still in my shop is okay. I like working with it, except when I turn it, It turns like it is concrete and I have to resharpen my tools a lot. Too bad you are having a bad experience with it. I like using it for some things. I have lately put some in flat faced cutting boards. It looks really nice.

Ive milled literally thousands of board feet of Jatoba over the years 4/4 , 5/4, 6/4 and 8/8…. Ive always considered it borderline junk.

Doesn't matter who the supplier is, it's a crap shoot at best as to the quality that'll show up at the door. Sometimes it's pristine….sometimes it's firewood.
We kept one 4/4 board about 10" wide and 10' long around the shop for years (don't know what ever happened to it) It actually had a full 90 degree twist from one end to the other….looked like a rough sawn propeller.
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