#29: Yucatan Rosewood

Bird number: 51
Date: March 14, 2012
Wood: Yucatan Rosewood (Dalbergia)
Source: Woodcraft

It’s probably impossible to say for sure what kind of wood this is. The label on the block from Woodcraft says, “Yucatan Rosewood.” If you look that up, you’ll find a botanical name of Dalbergia Yucatensis, which is not a “real” botanical name. In the first place, the proper name would be Yucatanensis meaning “from the Yucatan.” But neither of the names is listed in any botanical reference.

The wood looks similar to Honduras RosewoodDalbergia stevensonii. Some people say that it’s not quite as hard. I haven’t worked any other type of rosewood, so I can’ t say. Others have said that it has “that distinct rosewood smell,” but the Wood Database says that this species has little to no scent while being worked. I detected a very faint sweet odor when I was sanding the piece.

There’s no doubt that it’s pretty stuff. The wood is hard–a little harder than maple. The power carver didn’t have any trouble with it, and the wood behaved nicely. No tendency to fuzz up or splinter, like some I’ve worked with.

When I first carved the Bubinga bird, I posted it with the name Yucatan Rosewood. I had cut blanks for both at the same time and although I was careful about labeling them, for some reason while I was working on the Bubinga I thought it was this wood. The woods look quite similar when freshly cut. Even finished, they have similarities but the Bubinga is more dense and has more red in it. I’m learning just how difficult it is to tell what kind of wood something is without seeing the tree that it came from.

There are many different kinds of wood called “rosewood,” some of which are very popular for carving in some cultures. Most of the rosewood carvings I’ve seen in person or in pictures do not look like they came from this type of wood. As a result, I don’t really know if this stuff is often carved. I do know that I have a bit more, and will make something from it.