Other Names and Species:
Native to southern India and Sri Lanka; Diospyros crassiflora (Gaboon ebony), native to western Africa; and Diospyros celebica (Macassar ebony), native to Indonesia and prized for its luxuriant, multi-coloured wood grain.
When freshly cut, the sapwood of Ebony is pink-coloured, but darkens to a pale red brown; whereas the heartwood shows a uniform jet-black or black-brown colour, sometimes with streaks. Ebony has a very fine texture, with the grain ranging from straight to slightly interlocked, or even moderately curly. The lustre of this wood may have an almost metallic appearance.
An attractive and popular wood with many decorative uses, ebony is notably hard, heavy, and strong, and also very resistant to termite attack.
Ebony’s hardness is 3220. It is an incredibly hard and durable wood flooring choice. It is over two thirds harder than merbau, is roughly one hundred and twenty-two per cent harder than hard maple, over ninety-seven per cent harder than wenge, and just over forty-six per cent harder than santos mahogany's ranking of 2200.
This highly durable wood is difficult to work with either machine or hand tools, due to its relative hardness; and, as any contractor or builder can tell you, it has a pronounced dulling effect on tool edges. It usually requires pre-drilling to nail or screw. However, it finishes to a naturally dark and polished surface. Note that prolonged exposure to ebony sawdust may cause dermatitis.
Besides being used in hardwood flooring and inlaid work, ebony can be found in piano keys and other musical instruments, cutlery and tool handles, decorative carvings, and turnery.