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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.
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