African Blackwood Conservation Project

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Photos of African Blackwood

Photographs of African Blackwood, or mpingo, wood in log and cut forms.
Dimensions and weights in both English and metric units
are given to provide a feel for this wood in its raw form.
This extremely dense wood will not float in water,
having an average density of 75 lb/ft3 (1200 kg/m3).
Image download size is given in ( ).

mpingo01s.jpg (1870 bytes)

1. Half-section of mpingo log 9" (23 cm) in large diameter and 12" (30.5 cm) in length. This cut through the center of the log shows some of the heart checks, shakes and other defects which are common in mpingo.  (26k)

mpingo02s.jpg (1905 bytes) 2. Planed surface showing the striking contrast between the dark purplish-brown and black heartwood and pale yellow sapwood. (25k)
mpingo03s.jpg (2055 bytes) 3. End view of the log in photo #4. Dimensions are 6" across x 7" high  (15 cm x 18 cm). Endgrain of cut sections are coated with various compounds such as wax or petroleum jelly to create a moisture barrier. This is done to forestall the inevitable checking, or cracking, of the wood caused by too rapid drying out of the log through the endgrain pores. (29k)
mpingo04s.jpg (1626 bytes) 4. Side view of mpingo log about 7" (18 cm) in diameter and 18" (45 cm) in length showing the yellowish band of sapwood that lies directly under the bark. Weight is 34.5 lbs (15.6 kg). (22k)
mpingo05s.jpg (1850 bytes) 5. Opposite end view from (photo #3) of the log in photo #4 showing the origin of a fork in the tree and the scarring where the limb joins the main trunk. This tree typically has many folds, buttresses and other irregularites on its trunk and limbs which make cutting square stock from the log a difficult and wasteful process. (26k)
mpingo06s.jpg (1924 bytes) 6. Endgrain view of a very fine log section of mpingo showing the irregular shape in which it grows. This size log is considered large compared to most mpingos harvested. This piece has very few heart defects but is beginning to develop a significant check at about 9 o'clock. The dimensions are 8 1/2" x 11" (21 cm x 28cm) across the small and large dimensions of the end and it is 11" long, weighing 56 lb (25.5 kg). (30k)
mpingo07s.jpg (1955 bytes)

7. A stack of reject blanks from the musical instrument trade. 90% of the mpingo cut for this purpose ends up on the scrap pile. Some is diverted to native carvers for their use and others like these pieces are sold as imperfect pieces for other woodworking purposes such as woodturning, ornamental turning and knife handles. (24k)

mpingo08s.jpg (2021 bytes) 8. Another view of the instrument blanks in photo #7. The long pieces are roughly 1 3/8" x 1 3/8" x 9-10"(35 mm x 35 mm x 225-250 mm) and were cut as body blanks for clarinets. The truncated prism shapes were intended to be made into clarinet bells and they are about 3 1/2" (88 mm) in height and base dimension. (24k)
mpingo09s.jpg (2101 bytes) 9. High-resolution image of the stack of instrument reject blanks from photo #7. The various chalk marks are still visible from the grader's pencil as the imperfect areas on these pieces were marked at the sawmill. Only perfect specimens are suitable for the complex manufacturing processes of the woodwind instrument manufacturing trade. (64k)
mpingo10s.jpg (1821 bytes) 10. Endgrain view of one of the clarinet bell blanks from photos #7-9. The growth rings are barely visible curving about the right uppermost corner. This wood is so tight-grained and uniform in texture that the pores in the wood are difficult to see without magnification. (29k)





ABCP Website maintained by James E. Harris, 2000.
Last revised 21 April 2008.