Boat Building Woods
A project to identify species of lumber suitable for boat building
The following tropical wood species are from Wood Technical Fact Sheet at US Forest Products Laboratory. These are species that list boat or ship building among their uses. I have not listed species that listed "marine", but not boatbuilding or ship building. The next step will be to make a list of common names, followed by the botanical name to make the list more useful to the potential builder.
There is more information about each species on the US Forest Products Laboratory web site.
How would this list be used? Not for a list of acceptable woods to be taken to your lumber dealer, but rather to check the list of suitability for a tropical lumber that is available from your supplier. Is this list complete? No. What else can we tell you about these woods? Nothing. We have no experience with the majority of these species. They are listed solely on the basis of their "Uses" as listed in the US FPL database.
Format: Bontanical name Primary common name(s)
Other common names
Agathis spp. Kauri
Other Common Names: Dakua makadre (Fiji), Kauri pine (New Zealand), Bindang (Sarawak), Menghilan (Sabah), Damar minyak (Malaya), Tolong (Brunei), Almaciga (Philippines).
Uses: Vats and tanks, patternmaking, millwork, boatbuilding, furniture components, face veneers, shingles, pencil slats.
Aniba spp. Louro
Other Common Names: Many species of the Lauraceae may be grouped here, but most are poorly defined botanically. Comino real (Colombia), Silverballi (Guayana), Moena amarilla (Peru), Coto (Bolivia), Louro rosa, Pau rosa (Brazil).
Uses: Esteemed for high grade furniture, turnery, inlay work. Also favored for boat building, durable construction, and millwork.
Aspidosperma spp. (Araracanga group) Araracanga
Other Common Names: Volador, Pelmax (Mexico), Mylady (Belize), Alcarreto (Panama), Copachi (Colombia), Kromanti kopi (Surinam), Jacamim, Piquia marfim (Brazil).
Uses: Interior work, paneling, furniture, flooring, turnery, heavy construction, railway crossties, and boat framing.
Bagassa guianensis Bagasse
Other Common Names: Cow-wood (Guyana), Gele bagasse (Surinam), Bagasse jaune (French Guiana), Tatajuba, Amapa-rana (Brazil).
Uses: Wood used locally for general building purposes, heavy construction, furniture, boat construction.
Balanocarpus spp. Chengal, Penak
Other Common Names: Takien-chan (Thailand), Kong, Karakong (India), Mindanao Narek, Narek (Philippines).
Uses: Heavy construction, railroad crossties, boatbuilding, utility poles, industrial flooring, vats, casks, and tanks.
Buchenavia capitata Yellow Sanders
Other Common Names: Granadillo (Puerto Rico), Almendro (Colombia), Amarillo, Olivo negro (Venezuela), Mirindiba, Periquiteira (Brazil). Uses: An attractive furniture wood and suggested for decking, planking, and framing in boat construction; exterior and interior flooring; decorative veneers; turning; wood tanks. The wood has many characteristics similar to white oak and teak.
Calophyllum brasiliense Santa Maria, Jacareuba
Other Common Names: Bari, Leche de Maria (Mexico), Calaba (Panama), Aceite maria (Colombia), Edaballi, Kurahara (Guayana), Balsamaria (Bolivia), Guanandi, Jacareuba (Brazil).
Uses: Widely used in the tropics for general construction, flooring, furniture, boat construction; a favored general utility timber.
Calophyllum spp. Bintangor
Other Common Names: Poon (India), Bitanghol, Bitaog (Philippines), Tamanou (New Caledonia), Penaga (Sabah), Ka thang han, Ka thang Ian, Tang hon (Thailand), Damanu (Fiji Islands).
Uses: Flooring, furniture components, light construction, boatbuilding, cabinetwork.
Cariniana pyriformis and Cariniana spp. Albarco, Jequitiba
Other Common Names: Abarco (Colombia), Bacu (Venezuela), Ceru, Jequitiba rosa, Jequitiba amarella, Tauary (Brazil).
Uses: General construction and carpentry, furniture components, shipbuilding, flooring, veneer for plywood, and turnery.
Caryocar spp. Piquia, Cagui
Other Common Names: C. villosum: Ajillo (Costa Rica), Pekia (Guayana), Sawarie (Surinam), Almendro (Peru), Piquia (Brazil); C. costarricense Aji (Costa Rica), Cagui, Almendrillo, Almendron (Colombia).
Uses: General and marine construction, heavy flooring, railway crossties, boat parts, furniture components, especially suitable where hardness and high wear resistance are needed. Tree produces a large edible fruit which contains an oil- producing nut used for culinary purposes.
Cedrela spp. Spanish-Cedar, Cedro
Other Common Names: Cedro (Central and South America), Acajou rouge (French West Indies), Cedre rouge (French Guiana), Ceder (Surinam).
Uses: Wood is favored for millwork, cabinets, fine furniture, musical instruments, boat building, patterns, sliced and rotary-cut veneer, decorative and utility plywoods, cigar wrappers, and cigar boxes. Volatile oils may restrict use for some applications (e.g., clock cases).
Cedrela spp. (mainly C. toona) Toon, Australian Red-Cedar
Other Common Names: Toon (India), Thikado (Burma), Youhom (Thailand), Soeren (Indonesia), Epi, Kapere ( Papua- New Guinea).
Uses: Joinery, furniture and cabinetwork, decorative veneers, racing boats, musical instruments, and patternmaking.
Centrolobium spp. Araiba, Porcupine-Wood, Canary-Wood
Other Common Names: Amarillo guayaquil (Panama, Ecuador), Guayacan hobo, Balaustre (Colombia, Venezuela), Ararauba, Ararauva (Brazil), Morosimo (Paraguay).
Uses: Heavy construction, railroad crossties, fine furniture and cabinet work, flooring, ship components (planking, keel, decking, and trim), turnery, decorative veneers, cooperage.
Chlorophora excelsa and C. regia Iroko
Other Common Names: Semli (Sierra Leone, Liberia), Odoum (Ghana, ivory Coast), Rokko, Oroko (Nigeria), Abang, Mandji (Cameroon, Gabon), Mereira (Angola), Kambala (Zaire), Mvule (East Africa).
Uses: Suggested as a teak substitute. Joinery, boatbuilding, piling and marine work, domestic flooring, furniture, veneer, railroad crossties, cabinetwork, shop fittings.
Chlorophora tinctoria Fustic, Mora Amarilla
Other Common Names: Bois d'orange (Trinidad), Barossa, Moral (Mexico), Palo de mora (Costa Rica), Dinde, Palo amarillo (Colombia), Mora (Venezuela), Insira (Peru), Amarillo (Bolivia), Taiuva, Amarello (Brazil), Tatayiva-saiyu (Argentina).
Uses: Heavy construction, decking, planking, and framing for boats, exterior and interior flooring, turnery, furniture parts, tool handles, railroad ties, and wood tanks.
Cotylelobium spp. and Vatica spp. Resak
Other Common Names: Lau tau (Cambodia), Chan thip (Thailand), Narig (Philippines), Mascal wood (India), Taungsagaing (Burma).
Uses: Turnery, heavy construction, mining timbers, railroad crossties, boat construction, also suggested for flooring, interior joinery, and cabinetwork.
Dicorynia guianensis Basralocus, Angelique
Other Common Names: Basralokus, Barakaroeballi (Surinam), Angelique batard, Angelique gris (French Guiana). Another species, Dicorynia paraensis is found in the Brazilian Amazon and is called Angelica do Para.
Uses: Marine construction and general heavy construction, railroad crossties, industrial flooring, ship decking, planking, and framing, piling, parquet blocks and strips.
Diplotropis purpurea Sucupira
Family: Not listed
Other Common Names: Botonallare, Peonia (Venezuela), Tatabu, Aramatta (Guyana), Zwarte kabbes (Surinam), Coeur dehors (French Guiana), Sapupira, Supupira, Sucupira (Brazil). Uses: Heavy construction work, boat building, flooring, furniture components, turnery, railroad crossties, and tool handles.
Dipterocarpus spp. Keruing or Apitong
Other Common Names: Eng, In (Burma), Yang, Heng (Thailand), Lagan, Keroeing (Indonesia), Dau (Vietnam, Cambodia), Gurjun (India).
Uses: General construction work, framework for boats, flooring, pallets, chemical processing equipment, veneer and plywood, suggested for railroad crossties if treated.
Dryobalanops spp. Kapur
Other Common Names: Keladan, Kapur (Malaya), Kapoer (Indonesia), Borneo camphorwood (Great Britain).
Uses: Heavy construction work, furniture components, flooring, cores and backs of plywood (glues well with urea formaldehyde), boat framing, joinery.
Entandrophragma angolense Gedu Nohor
Other Common Names: Mukusu (Uganda), Tiama (Ivory Coast), Edinam (Ghana), Kalungi (Zaire).
Uses: Furniture, joinery, cabinetmaking, boat construction, decorative veneers and plywood.
Entandrophragma candollei Kosipo
Other Common Names: Omu (Nigeria), Candollei (Ghana).
Uses: Joinery, furniture and cabinetwork, flooring, decorative veneers, plywood, boat construction.
Entandrophragma utile Utile
Other Common Names: Efuodwe (Ghana), Sipo (ivory Coast), Okeong (Nigeria), Assie (Cameroon), Kosi-Kosi (Gabon), Mufumbi (Uganda).
Uses: Furniture and cabinetwork, joinery, decorative veneers and plywood, boat construction.
Eusideroxylon zwageri Belian, Borneo ironwood
Other Common Names: Tambulian (Philippines), Onglen, Un (Indonesia).
Uses: Heavy construction, marine work, boatbuilding, piling, printing blocks, specialty furniture, industrial flooring, roofing shingles, tool handles.
Fagraea spp. Tembusu, Anan
Other Common Names: Buabua (Fiji Islands), Urung (Philippines), Temasuk (Sabah), Tatrao, Trai (Cambodia), Tam Sao (Thailand), Tembesu (Indonesia), Anan, Ananma (Burma).
Uses: Heavy construction, flooring, turnery, carvings, printing dies, specialty items (rulers, T-squares, straight edges), railroad crossties, boat construction.
Gossweilerodendron balsamiferum Agba
Other Common Names: Achi, Egba, Emongi (Nigeria), Tola blanc (Congo-Brazzaville), Tola branca (Angola), N'Tola (Zaire).
Uses: A general purpose timber, furniture, joinery, boatbuilding, light construction millwork, core stock, plywood, domestic flooring.
Guarea cedrata and G. thompsonii Guarea
Other Common Names: Bossy (Ivory Coast), Kwabohoro (Ghana), Obobo (Nigeria), Edoucie (Cameroon).
Uses: Furniture, joinery, paneling, boatbuilding, decorative veneers, turnery, flooring.
Guarea spp. Cramantee, American Muskwood
Other Common Names: G. trichilioides: Guaraguao (Puerto Rico), Trompillo (Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia), Fruta de loro (Ecuador), Cedrillo (Argentina), Gito, Cedrohy (Brazil). G. excelsa: Cedrillo, Trompillo de plaza (Mexico), Cramantee (Belize), Guano blanco (Colombia), Cabimbo (Venezuela).
Uses: Furniture, cabinet work, turnery, interior trim, joinery, ship construction (planking and trim), general carpentry, and decorative and utility veneer and plywood.
Heritiera spp. syn. Tarrietia spp. Mengkulang
Other Common Names: Kembang (Sabah), Lumbayau (Philippines), Kanze (Burma), Chumprak (Thailand), Huynh (Cambodia).
Uses: Classified as a general utility timber, flooring, plywood, furniture, interior finish, boatbuilding, decorative veneers.
Homalium spp. African Homalium
Other Common Names: Melefoufou (Ivory Coast), Bro-kpah (Liberia).
Uses: Heavy construction, flooring, boatbuilding, railroad crossties, poles and piles.
Hopea spp. Thingan, Merawan
Other Common Names: Gagil (Sabah), Luis, Selangan (Sarawak), Manggachapui (Philippines), Koki (Cambodia), Mai Takien (Thailand).
Uses: General construction, boatbuilding, furniture components, flooring, railroad crossties, joinery, turnery.
Khaya grandifoliola and K. senegalensis Khaya, African Mahogany, Benin Mahogany, Senegal Mahogany
Other Common Names: Diala-iri (Ivory Coast, Ghana), Akuk, Ogwango (Nigeria), Eri Kiree (Uganda), Bandoro (Sudan). Often marketed together with K. ivorensis and K. anthotheca.
Uses: Furniture and cabinetwork, joinery, shop fixtures, flooring, boatbuilding, decorative veneers.
Khaya ivorensis and K. anthotheca African Mahogany
Other Common Names: Often further classified as to port of shipment or country of origin; consignments to U.S. trade mostly K. ivorensis. Munyama (Uganda), Acajou d'Afrique (Ivory Coast), Dubini, Dukuma fufu (Ghana), Ogwango (Nigeria).
Uses: Furniture and cabinetwood, boatbuilding, joinery, veneer and plywood, paneling, shop fixtures.
Lagerstroemia spp. Pyinma
Other Common Names: Jarul (India), Banglang (Vietnam), Intanin (Thailand), Bungor (Malaya, Sabah), Banaba (Philippines), Bang-lang (Cambobia).
Uses: Furniture, interior joinery, boatbuilding, general construction, parquet flooring, paneling.
Licaria spp. Kaneelhart, Brown Silverballi
Other Common Names: Brown silverballi, Kharemero shiruaballi (Guyana), Kaneelhart, Kaneel-pisie (Surinam), Bois canelle (French Guiana).
Uses: Furniture, turnery, boat building, heavy construction, and parquet flooring.
Magnolia spp. Magnolia, Vaco
Other Common Names: Laurel sabino (Puerto Rico), Corpus, Elosuchil, Semiramis (Mexico), candelilo (Costa Rica), Vaco (Panama).
Uses: Utility veneer and plywood, millwork, furniture and cabinet work, general interior and exterior construction, boat planking, and turnery.
Manilkara bidentata Bulletwood, Balata
Other Common Names: Chicozapote (Mexico), Ausubo (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic), Nispero (Panama), Beefwood (Guyana), Bolletri (Surinam), Balata rouge (French Guiana), Macaranduba (Brazil).
Uses: Heavy construction, textile and pulp mill equipment, furniture parts, turnery, tool handles, flooring, boat frames and other bent work, railway crossties, violin bows, billiard cues, and other specialty uses. Also well known for its yield of balata or gutta-percha collected from tapped trees. Note: This refers to "bent" frames. It is highly rot resistant, but difficult to glue. brw
Melaleuca quinquenervia syn. M. leucadendron Broad-Leaved Tea-Tree, Cajeput
Other Common Names: Gelam (Malaya), Niaouli (New Caledonia), Cajeput (United States), Paper-bark (Australia).
Uses: Carvings, cabinetwork, boatbuilding, fencing, railroad crossties, mine props, marquetry, veneers, gun stocks. The leaves are distilled to yield an oil used for medicinal purposes; corky bark flakes have also been used for insulation as well as stuffing for pillows, etc.
Mesua ferrea Gangaw
Other Common Names: Mesua (India), Penaga (Malaya), Bosneak (Cambodia).
Uses: Railway crossties, heavy construction, boatbuilding, mine props, tool handles
Mora excelsa and Mora gonggrijpii Mora
Other Common Names: Nato, Nato rojo (Colombia), Mora de Guayana (Venezuela), Morabukea, Mora (Guyana), Mora, Moraboekea (Surinam), Pracuuba (Brazil).
Uses: Industrial flooring, railroad crossties, shipbuilding, heavy construction, high quality charcoal wood.
Nauclea diderrichii syn. Sarcocephalus diderrichii Opepe
Other Common Names: Kusia (Ghana), Badi (Ivory Coast), Bilinga (Gabon), Akondoc (Cameroon), N'Gulu-maza (Zaire), Kilingi (Uganda).
Uses: Dock and marine work, boatbuilding (except bent work), railway crossties, general construction, flooring, furniture and cabinet parts.
Nectandra spp. Canelo, Laurel
Other Common Names: Aguacatillo (Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica), Laurel (Colombia, Venezuela), Silverballi (Guyana), Pisi (Surinam), Canela (Brazil), Ayui-y, Laurel (Argentina). A large number of species make up this group.
Uses: Furniture and cabinet work, ship decking and boat planking, flooring, millwork veneers and plywood, and general carpentry.
Nesogordonia papaverifera syn. Cisanthera papaverifera Danta
Other Common Names: Kotibe (Ivory Coast), Otutu (Nigeria), Owoe (Cameroon), Arborbo (Gabon), Kondofindo (Zaire), Naouya (Angola), Abumana, Akumaba, Epro (Ghana).
Uses: General construction, floors, joinery, turnery, boatbuilding, tool handles, gunstocks, plywood, utility crossarms, furniture. Considered a hickory substitute.
Ocotea rodiaei Demerara Greenheart, Greenheart
Other Common Names: Bibiru, Sipiri, Kevatuk (Guyana), Beeberoe, Demerara groenhart, Sipiroe (Surinam).
Uses: Marine and ship construction, lock gates, docks, industrial flooring, vats, filter press plates, piling, heavy construction, turnery, specialty items (fishing rods, billiard cue butts)
Ocotea rubra Determa, Red Louro
Other Common Names: Determa (Guyana), Wana, Wane (Surinam), Grignon rouge (French Guiana), Louro vermelho (Brazil).
Uses: Furniture, general construction, boat planking, tanks and cooperage, joinery, heavy marine construction, turnery, parquet flooring, veneer and plywood is also suggested.
Ocotea usambarensis East African Camphorwood
Family: Lauraceae Other Common Names: Muwong, Maasi, Mkulo (Tanzania), Mwiha (Uganda).
Uses: Cabinet and furniture work, joinery, flooring, sliced veneer, boatbuilding.
Parinari spp. Burada , Foengoe
Other Common Names: Perefuetano (Colombia), Tostado (Venezuela), Aiomoradan, Burada (Guyana), Foengoe, Vonkhout (Surinam), Parinari, Pajura (Brazil), Uchpa-umari (Peru).
Uses: Marine construction; especially when continuously submerged to avoid decay fungi, ship keels, railroad crossties (treated).
Peltogyne spp. Purpleheart, Amaranth
Other Common Names: Palo morado (Mexico), Morado (Panama, Venezuela), Tananeo (Columbia), Koroboreli (Guyana), Purperhart (Surinam), Amarante (French Guiana), Pau roxo, Guarabu (Brazil), Violetwood (English trade).
Uses: Turnery, marquetry, cabinets, fine furniture, parquet flooring, tool handles, heavy construction, shipbuilding, many specialty items (billiard cue butts, chemical vats, carving).
Pericopsis elata syn. Afrormosia elata Afrormosia
Other Common Names: Kokrodua (Ghana), Assamela (Ivory Coast).
Uses: Boatbuilding, joinery, flooring, furniture, decorative veneers, considered an excellent teak substitute.
Pinus caribaea Caribbean Pine
Other Common Names: Pino (generally in Latin America), Ocote (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua).
Uses: General light and heavy construction, carpentry, flooring, joinery, utility poles and railroad crossties (treated), boat building, vats, utility plywood, pulp and paper products.
Pometia spp. Kasai
Other Common Names: Malugai (Philippines), Taun (New Guinea), Truong (Indochina), Sibu (Sarawak).
Uses: Furniture components, flooring, joinery, general carpentry work, tight cooperage, tool handles, light construction, veneer and plywood, bent-work, boatbuilding.
Pseudosamanea guachapele Guachapele, Frijolillo
Other Common Names: Cadeno (Guatemala), Frijolillo (Honduras), Tabaca, Guamarillo (Colombia), Samanigua (Venezuela), Guachapele (Ecuador).
Uses: Shipbuilding (planking, ribs, decking), railroad crossties, general construction, flooring, decorative veneers, furniture components.
Pterocarpus angolensis Muninga
Other Common Names: Mutete (Angola), Mukwa (Zimbabwe), Mtumbati (Tanzania), Kiatt, Kajat (South Africa).
Uses: Furniture, fine joinery, flooring, decorative veneer, turnery, boat building.
Quercus spp. Roble, Encino Oak
Other Common Names: Ahuatl, Cucharillo, Encino (Mexico), Roblecito (Guatemala), Encino negro (Honduras), Roble encino, Roble colorado (Costa Rica), Mamecillo (Panama), Robe, Roble amarillo (Colombia).
Uses: Flooring, railroad crossties, construction, mine timbers, tight cooperage, boat and ship construction, decorative veneer, and charcoal.
Rhizophora mangle Mangle Colorado, Red Mangrove
Other Common Names: Candelon, Mangle dulce (Mexico), Mangle rojo (Colombia), Purgua (Venezuela), Apareiba, Mangue sapateiro (Brazil), Mangle geli (Ecuador).
Uses: Boat construction, general heavy construction, charcoal, railroad crossties, turnery, bark has a high tannin content (30% based on ovendry weight) and is used commercially.
Shorea spp.(Balau group)
Other Common Names: Red Selangan Batu (Sabah), Guijo (Philippines), Balau Merah, Membatu (Malaya), Balau Merah (Indonesia).
Uses: Heavy construction, framing of boats, parquet flooring, heavy-duty flooring, utility furniture.
Shorea spp. (Dark Red Meranti-Red Lauan group)
Other Common Names: Red lauan, Tangile (Philippines), Dark red seraya, Obar suluk (Sabah), Saya (Thailand), Meranti ketuko (Indonesia), Nemesu (Malaya), Alan (Sarawak).
Uses: Veneer and plywood, joinery, flooring, furniture and cabinetwork, general construction, boatbuilding.
Shorea spp. (White Meranti group)
Other Common Names: Melapi (Sabah, Sarawak) Meranti Puteh (Indonesia), Pa-nong (Thailand), Bo-Bo (Vietnam), Makai (India), Manggasinoro (Philippines).
Uses: Veneer and plywood, flooring, general construction, vats and casks, boat framing.
Swietenia macrophylla Honduras Mahogany, Caoba
Other Common Names: Caoba (throughout Latin America), Acajou (French-speaking areas).
Uses: Fine furniture and cabinet making, interior trim, paneling, fancy veneers, musical instruments, boat building, pattern making, turnery, and carving.
Swintonia spp. Merpauh
Other Common Names: Selan (Sarawak), Boilam (India), Taung-thayet (Burma), Khan thong (Thailand).
Uses: Boatbuilding, light construction, packing cases, rotary veneer, matches.
Tabebuia spp. (Roble group) Roble, Mayflower
Other Common Names: Roble (Spanish America), Amapa, Roble blanco (Mexico), Roble blanco, Roble de sabana (Costa Rica), Roble del rio (Colombia), Apamate (Venezuela).
Uses: Flooring, furniture, cabinetwork, interior trim, tool handles, decorative veneers, boat building. For some applications suggested as a substitute for ash and oak.
Tarrietia utilis and T. densiflora Niangon
Other Common Names: Nyankom (Ghana), Ogoue (Cameroon), De-orh (Liberia), Yawe (Sierra Leone).
Uses: Furniture components, carpentry and joinery, boatbuilding, greenhouses.
Tectona grandis Teak
Other Common Names: Kyun (Burma), Teck (French), Teca (Spanish).
Uses: Shipbuilding, joinery, furniture, flooring, carving, cabinetwork, paneling, turnery, tanks and vats, fixtures requiring high resistance to acids.
Terminalia amazonia syn. T. obovata Nargusta
Other Common Names: Almendro (Honduras), Canshan (Mexico), Amarillo carabazuelo (Panama), Guayabo leon (Colombia), Pardillo negro (Venezuela), Pau-mulato brancho (Brazil).
Uses: Flooring, railroad crossties, furniture and cabinet work, shipbuilding, turnery, general construction, utility plywood. It is suggested as a possible substitute for oak.
Terminalia tomentosa complex Indian Laurel
Other Common Names: Taukkyan (Burma), Sadar, Matti, Asan, Marda (India).
Uses: Furniture, cabinetwork, joinery, paneling, specialty items, boatbuilding, railroad crossties (treated), decorative veneers.
Tieghemella heckelii and T. africana Makore, Douka
Other Common Names: (T. heckelii) Baku (Ghana), Makore (Ivory Coast); (T. africana) Douka, Ukola (Gabon).
Uses: Furniture, cabinetwork, joinery, decorative veneers, paneling, boatbuilding, flooring, turnery, marine plywood.
Uapaca spp. Sugar-Plum
Other Common Names: Abo emido, Yeye (Nigeria), Rikio, Borikio, Rikio riviere (Ivory Coast, Cameroon).
Uses: Good fuel and charcoal wood, light construction, boatbuilding, flooring.