Jatoba / Brazilian Cherry
Other Names and Species:
West Indian Locust
From southern Mexico, throughout Central America and the West Indies, to northern Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.
Although it’s widely named “Brazilian Cherry,” it bears little relation to the domestic Cherry (Prunus serotina), except perhaps that its natural color closely matches the common stained color of domestic Cherry that has been aged/stained reddish-brown as seen on some interior furniture.
Jatoba is exceptionally stiff, strong, and hard—representing a great value for woodworkers seeking high-strength, low-cost lumber.
While the sapwood of jatoba is gray-white, the heartwood tends to a salmon-red to orange-brown colour when fresh, becoming russet or reddish brown with dark streaks when seasoned. With its inherent beauty, rich colouring, and extreme hardness, this species is understandably one of our most popular exotic woods.
In addition to its warm reddish tint, this moderately lustrous wood is notable for its hardness and durability — jatoba is extremely dense wood and very strong.
Jatoba’s hardness is 2350. It is one of the hardest choices for wood flooring. It is roughly eighty-one per cent harder than red oak, seventy-eight per cent harder than ash, about sixty-two per cent harder than hard maple, close to twenty-three per cent harder than jarrah, and is just over six per cent harder than santos mahogany's ranking of 2200.
In view of its high density and interlocked grain, Brazilian cherry is difficult to saw and plane; however, it sands nicely to a smooth surface. Due to its hardness, nailing may require pre-drilling and adjustment of the angle of penetration.
Brazilian cherry (jatoba) is frequently used where good shock resistance is needed, such as in wood flooring and tool handles. Other applications include railroad crossties, wheel rims, gear cogs, and other specialty items, as well as furniture and cabinet work.