#17: Black and white ebony

Bird number: 40
Date: February 1, 2012
Wood: Black and White Ebony (Diospyros embryopteris)
Source: Woodcraft store

When I was at Woodcraft looking for some Purpleheart before Christmas, they had a big box outside, full of exotic wood scraps that they were selling at highly discounted prices. Most of the scraps were too small for these birds, but I was able to find a few good chunks. Perhaps the most common type of wood in the box was this Black and White Ebony, a type of wood I’d never seen before.

The genus Diaspyros, commonly referred to as ebony or persimmon trees, most of which are native to the tropics. The persimmon is one notable exception that is native to temperate regions. Black and White Ebony is a rare member of the genus, found mostly in Laos.

The holes are made by some kind of insect.

One problem with picking wood from the bargain bin is that you don’t always get the best samples. This piece is not as highly figured as some that you’ll see. I actually got what I thought was a much better piece, but it broke when I tried to carve it. The wood is prone to cracking, and that piece had a crack that turned out to be much more serious than I thought it was.

The wood is hard, and has something of a waxy feel. Sanded, it’s quite smooth. So smooth, in fact, that I almost didn’t put a finish on it. But without a finish, the wood would start to discolor, and it would also pick up dirt and oil from hands that hold it.

I have another piece of this wood, although it’s even more bland (fewer black streaks) than the bird I show here. At least, it looks pretty bland on the outside. If I do get a better sample, I’ll definitely carve another bird from it. The highly figured wood is quite expensive, though, so it might be a while before I spring for another piece.