Kamagong (Ebony) jewelry box

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Blog entry by Bill Davis posted 01-18-2011 12:11 PM 5109 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Doing some resawing.

The basic box.

About a week ago my dentist, Bam, said he had a piece of old Kamagong for me. Well that made the pain in the dentist chair more tolerable (actually it was only a routine cleaning). It was a pretty scrungy looking board about 30” x 18” with nail holes (including a couple of nails) and a fair share of splits. I could see some nice grain buried in there though it would have to be brought out where it was more obvious. Also someone had ‘filled’ some big cracks with what looked like black asphault. Lovely!

Well after removing two nails which had been put in to hold a couple of the bigger splits together and working the surface a bit, it was confirmed that there was some beautiful grain to show off.

An idea from the past popped into my head of a jewelry box I’d made. This piece might make another one of those. Some figuring confirmed that it would so I’m working on it now.

Got the sides and a sliding tray together along with the top glued up. Still have to cut some pieces for the base but to stretch the board a bit I resawed a piece of the somewhat split section down to 1/8” after some thicknessing for use as the bottom pieces fitting into a saw-kerf groove.

The piece for the top.

Put some splines in the mitered joints on the main box.

12 comments so far

View bigike's profile


4055 posts in 3589 days

#1 posted 01-18-2011 12:52 PM

very nice looken wood.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 4225 days

#2 posted 01-18-2011 01:00 PM

I really wish I’d taken a picture of the board I started with. First impressions can certainly be misleading. It is nice but pretty hard stuff. One piece I had I put in a glass of water and it sunk right to the bottom. Hard and dense!

View woodworm's profile


14471 posts in 3891 days

#3 posted 01-18-2011 02:30 PM

Nice wood. Looks more or less like Rosewood.
The first time I ripped rosewood I did not put my shirt on, the saw dust is so brittle & hard hitting my body just like I was sand-blasting my chest….LOL.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 4225 days

#4 posted 01-18-2011 02:51 PM

Haven’t worked rosewood so no point of reference. It is a pretty wood. Hope to get this finished soon.

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 3365 days

#5 posted 01-18-2011 03:00 PM

I have never heard of the wood. Beautiful grain. Was it hard to work with?

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 3377 days

#6 posted 01-18-2011 03:23 PM

Now that is some pretty lumber…. Looks like it is in good hands. Look forward to see more on this jewel.

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4378 days

#7 posted 01-18-2011 09:25 PM

A pretty piece of wood, I am sure you will do it proud!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 4225 days

#8 posted 01-19-2011 12:34 AM

Eagle1 – Kamagong is the local (Philippines) name for this locally grown member of the Ebony family. The tree produces a hairy fruit called Mabolo and sometimes the wood is also called by that name. Here’s a quote from somewhere “Kamagong or “Mabolo” is a fruit tree found only in the Philippines, the wood of which is extremely dense and hard, and famous for its dark color. It belongs to the ebony family (genus Diospyros), and like many other very hard woods is sometimes called “iron wood” so called because its wood is iron-like and nearly unbreakable, hence the term “ironwood”. The word Mabolo is Filipino for hairy and describes the fruit’s hairy exterior. The Mabolo or Velvet-apple (Diospyros blancoi) is native to the Philippines. It is bright red when ripe. It is also native to China, where it is known as Kaki.”

The heart wood can be almost pure black or it can have a sort of tiger stripe wavey grain. It is a very dense wood with a SG near or over 1 which means it won’t float on water. I stuck one small sample in water and it went right to the bottom. Being that hard and dense is can be somewhat hard on tools. In that resawing picture I had to go quite slow and there was occasional smoke being emmitted reminding me to ‘Back Off’. You can sand it to a glass smooth surface so will actually shine without a finish. I have gotten to like working with it. A nice and available wood here. And it offers very interesting visual effects. This box will be going back to my dentist – actually his wife who will make more use of a jewelry box I’m sure. She co-drills with him in their dental practice here.

View bigike's profile


4055 posts in 3589 days

#9 posted 01-19-2011 02:42 AM

now that you explained the history of the wood, it makes me want to get some. Do any of the lumber yards ship international? If you get from a lumber yard.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3223 days

#10 posted 01-19-2011 03:01 AM

This is a very nice blend of grain from Kamagong. Violet, black and brown stripes are not so common. Nowadays you can only find brown, black and sap (light brown). My previous experience with this wood, I can make a box with thickness of 5 mm nearly 3/16”. I really love to work with Kamagong but hard to find.

I think rosewood can be compared with hard narra (amboyna) but Kamagong is quite hard.

Nice box and I know the finish will be so lustrous. It accepts any finish but I like the polyurethane in it.
God Bless.

-- Bert

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 4225 days

#11 posted 01-19-2011 06:34 AM

Bigike – I saw some very similar in a woodworking store in Phoenix. Went by the name Makassar Ebony. $70 /bd-ft.

Bert – I was somewhat surprised at the grain considering how the original board looked. As you are well aware there is often great beauty hiding just under the surface of an ugly bold board.

The main box in this jewlery box is 1/2 inch thick. The bottoms of the main part and of the small sliding tray and the base are 1/8” to just fit into a saw kerf groove. I just finished cutting and glueing the base pieces together so letting them dry. This jewelry box actually has a hidden compartment in it. Maybe when it is completed I can show that.
Haven’t yet decided about the finish. I usually like lacquer as I did on the mirror. But I may just oil this. We’ll see.

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3167 days

#12 posted 04-08-2017 10:20 AM

That is a beautiful piece of wood and that box is coming along nicely. All I ever get from going to my dentist is a lot of pain and a big bill.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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