My wood collection

I started collecting wood in 2009, and so far have amassed over fifty different species in pieces large enough for a paddle. Most of the Australian timbers are acquired from local timber merchants or one of the timber and woodworking shows held around Australia each year. I have acquired exotic timbers both here in Australia and on my travels overseas, particularly in Japan.

Each wood species below includes its density, which is how much it weighs compared to water. Wood with a density greater than 1 will sink. Lignum Vitae (density 1.26) is the heaviest wood I have used for paddle making. It is 3.5x heavier than the lightest wood I've used, which is Japanese Cedar (density 0.36).

All the images below are actual photographs of finished paddles made from timber in my collection.

African Padauk

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Scientific name: Pterocarpus soyauxii

Other common names: Vermillion

Distribution: Central and Tropical West Africa

Density: 0.75

American Oak

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Scientific name: Querus alba

Other common names: White Oak

Distribution: Eastern United States

Density: 0.75

American Black Walnut

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Scientific name: Juglans nigra

Other common names: Black Walnut, Virginia Walnut

Distribution: Eastern North America

Density: 0.62

Notable uses: Cabinet and furniture making

Australian Red Cedar

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Scientific name: Toona Ciliata

Distribution: Australia and Southern Asia

Density: 0.49

Australian Rosewood

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Scientific name: Dysoxylum fraseranum

Other common name: Rose Mahogany

Distribution: NSW/Qld East Coast

Density: 0.71

Black Palm

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Scientific name: Borassus flabellifer

Distribution: Tropical Asia, Africa

Density: 0.97

Comments: Black palm is neither a hardwood nor a softwood. It is a monocotyledon. Palms have no growth rings. The wood is softer in the middle of the tree, which is the opposite of most hardwoods and softwoods.

Blackheart Sassafras

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Scientific name: Atherosperma moschatum

Distribution: Tasmania

Density: 0.62

Bloodwood

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Scientific name:  Brosmum rubescens

Other common names: Satine

Distribution: Tropical South America

Density: 1.05

Brazilian Walnut

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Scientific name: Ocotea porosa

Other common names: Imbuia

Distribution: Southern Brazil

Density: 0.66

Comments: Brazilian Walnut is not actually species of walnut, but the timber physically resembles true walnut.

Brazilwood

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Scientific name: Paubrasilia echinata

Distribution: Brazil

Density: 0.98

Notable uses: Bows for violins and other stringed instruments.

Budgeroo

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Scientific name: Lysicarpus angustifolious

Distribution: Outback Queensland

Density: 0.5

Comments: No longer available in commercial quantities.

Buloke

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Scientific name: Allocasuarina luehmannii

Distribution: Eastern Australia

Density: 1.11

Burmese Teak

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Scientific name: Tectona grandis

Distribution: Native to Southern Asia. Grown in plantations in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Density: 0.66

Notable uses: Boat building. Often used to make outdoor furniture due to its resistance to rot and decay.

Camphor Laurel

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Scientific name: Cinnamomum camphora

Distribution: Native to China. Introduced to and now widespread in Eastern Australia.

Density: 0.52

Notable uses: Solid slab tables and chairs.

Comments: Camphor laurel is classified as a noxious weed in parts of NSW under the NSW Noxious Weeds Act 1993!

Cocobolo

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Scientific name: Dalbergia retusa

Distribution: Central America

Density: 1.1

Fijian Mahogany

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Scientific name: Swietenia macrophylla

Distribution: Fiji

Density: 0.55

Comments: Fijian mahogany is often referred to as plantation mahogany. It is the same species as mahogany found in Central and South America, and the seeds were originally sourced from Belize.

Forest Red Gum

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Scientific name: Eucalyptus tereticornis, Eucalyptus blakelyi ssp

Distribution: East coast of Australia. Southern Papau New Guinea

Density: 1.01-1.06

Gidgee

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Scientific name: Acacia cambagei, Acacia pruinocarpa

Distribution: Australia

Density: 1.15

Grey Ironbark

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Scientific name: Eucalyptus paniculata, Eucalyptus siderophloia

Distribution: Australia

Density: 1.25

Huon Pine

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Scientific name: Lagarostrobos franklinii

Distribution: Tasmania, NZ, South East Asia

Density: 0.56

Japanese Cedar

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Scientific name: Cryptomeria japonica

Other common names: Sugi

Distribution: Japan, plantations in Asia

Density: 0.36

Notable uses: Used as a construction timber in Japan. 

Comments: I have managed to acquire a small number of  highly figured pieces from a specialist timber shop in Tokyo, which look quite different from (and far more attractive than) most Japanese Cedar.

Jarrah

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Wood spanking paddle Jarrah MissEmm

Scientific name: Eucalyptus marginata

Distribution: Western Australia

Density: 0.84

Notable uses: Furniture making and joinery. In the past it was used for railway sleepers and telegraph poles.

Comments: The piece in the photograph is a particularly figured sample. Many pieces are much plainer, although they still have the deep red colour.

Laotian Rosewood

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Scientific name: ??

Distribution: Presumably Laos

Density: ??

Comments: I purchased this piece of timber in Sydney under the name Laotian Rosewood and made three paddles from it. I'm yet to verify what species it is.

Lignum Vitae

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Scientific name: Guaiacum officinale

Distribution: The Caribbean, Central America and Northern South America. 

Density: 1.26

Notable uses: Bearings on ships and submarines. Truncheons for English police officers.

Comments: Often referred to as the heaviest and hardest world in the world. It is a very oily wood which can be sanded to an extremely fine finish.

Macassar Ebony

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Scientific name: Diospyros celebica

Other common names: Striped Ebony, Amara Ebony

Distribution: South East Asia

Density: 1.12

Notable uses: Billiards cue butts, musical instruments, veneers.

Mackay Cedar

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Scientific name: Paraserianthes toona

Other common names: Red Siris

Distribution: Northern Queensland rainforests

Density: 0.72

Comments: Pieces showing a dramatic mix of red and yellow streaks are referred to as Speckled Mackay Cedar.

Malaysian Rosewood

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Scientific name: ??

Distribution: Presumably Malaysia

Density: ??

Comments: I bought one piece of this timber in 2009 under the name Malaysian Rosewood, and have yet to confirm what species it is.

Mango Wood

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Scientific name: Mangifera indica

Distribution: Tropical Asia and Oceania

Density: 0.68

Meranti

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Scientific name: Shorea spp

Distribution: South East Asia

Density: 0.59

Comments: Widely available in Australian hardware stores such as Bunnings.

Mulga

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Scientific name: Acacia aneura

Distribution: Western Australia - arid areas

Density: 0.85-1.1

Narrow Leaf Wattle

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Scientific name: Acacia floribunda

Other common names: Gossamer Wattle, River wattle, Sally Wattle, White Sallow

Distribution: Eastern Australia

Density: ??

Notable uses: The tree is used as a hedge, wind break, and for controlling erosion.

New Guinea Rosewood

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Scientific name: Pterocarpus Indicus

Other common names: Amboyna

Distribution: South East Asia

Density: 0.65

Comments: Some pieces are very red in colour, referred to as Flame New Guinea Rosewood.

Palo Santo

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Scientific name: Bulnesia arborea

Other common names: Verawood, Argentine Lignum Vitae

Distribution: Central America and Northern South America

Density: 1.19

Comments: Often used as a substitute for Lignum Vitae due to its similar appearance and phyisical properties. Not to be confused with another wood also known as Palo Santo, which is used frequently sold in stick form for burning as incense.

Pink Ivory

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Scientific name: Berchemia zeyeri

Other common names: Red Ivorywood

Distribution: Southern Africa

Density: 1.04 - sinks in water

Comments: In Zulu folklore Pink Ivory is sacred and reserved for royalty.

Purpleheart

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Scientific name:  Peltogoyne spp.

Other common names: Amaranth

Distribution: Central and South America

Density: 0.90

Comments: You have to see Purpleheart to appreciate just how purple it is. The first time I saw a piece for sale I assumed it had been stained! When first sawn it is a dull grey colour, but it changes to purple with exposure to UV light over a couple of days.

Red River Gum

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Scientific name: Eucalyptus camaldulensis

Distribution: Australia

Density: 0.9

Rengas

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Scientific name: Gluta spp, Melanorrhoea spp.

Other common names: Borneo Rosewood, Tiger Rengas

Distribution: Papua New Guinea to India

Density: 0.76

Rock Maple

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Scientific name: Acer saccharum

Other common names: Canadian Maple, Sugar Maple

Distribution: North East North America

Density: 0.71

Silky Oak

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Scientific name: Grevillea robusta

Other common names: Southern Silky Oak

Distribution: East coast of Australia

Density: 0.59

Silver Ash

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Scientific name: Flindersia bourjotiana

Distribution: Rainforests in Northern NSW and Queensland

Density: 0.64-0.68

Solomon Blackwood

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Scientific name: Xanthostemon melanoxylon

Other common names: Pacific Blackwood, Queen Ebony

Distribution: Solomon Islands

Density: 1.23

Notable uses: Musical instruments such as flutes and clarinets.

Comments: This timber was briefly imported and marketed in Australia by a Queensland company called SitCo many years ago, which then disappeared off the face of the earth. No-one seems to have imported any more of it ever since as far as I know.

Spotted Gum

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Scientific name: Eucalyptus maculata

Distribution: Coastal NSW

Density: 0.94

Comments: The timber itself is not actually covered in spots. The name derives from the way the Spotted Gum's bark sheds in flakes, leaving spots on the trunk of the tree.

Sydney Blue Gum

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BDSM Spanking Paddle Close Up Detail

Scientific name: Eucalyptus saligna

Distribution: NSW

Density: 0.84

Notable uses: Construction timber, flooring, fencing, garden sleepers, furniture, joinery and lots of other uses, because it's a pretty common tree along the east coast.

Comments: The wood has a light pinkish colour and an open grain.

Tasmanian Blackwood

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Scientific name: Acacia melanoxylon

Distribution: Native to Tasmania and Eastern Australia. Now being grown in Africa, South America and southern Asia

Density: 0.64

Tasmanian Myrtle

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Scientific Name: Nothofagus cunninghamii

Distribution: Southeast Australia, NZ

Density: 0.63

Tasmanian Oak

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Scientific name: Eucalyptus delegatensis, Eucalyptus regnans, Eucalyptus obliqua

Other common names: Victorian Ash, Alpine Ash, Messmate Stringybark, Brown-Top Stringybark

Distribution: South Eastern Australia

Density: 0.68-0.77

Comments: The name Tasmanian Oak used for three very similar species of eucalypts sold by Australian timber suppliers, including Bunnings. Whilst it's very strong I have found it to be quite brittle and prone to cracking under shock, so I've stopped using it for paddles.

Wenge

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Scientific name: Millettia laurentii

Distribution: Central Africa

Density: 0.87

Zebrawood

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Wood spanking paddle in Zebrawood | Handmade by MissEmm

Scientific name: Microberlinia brazzavillensis

Other common name: Zebrano

Distribution: West Africa

Density: 0.81

Notable uses: Zebrawood is often used as a veneer on furniture, guitars, skis and all sorts of other products.

Comments: It's not hard to see where Zebrawood gets its name from :)

Ziricote

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Wood spanking paddle in ziricote | handmade by MissEmm

Scientific name: Cordia dodecandra

Distribution: Central America and Mexico

Density: 0.81

Comments: One of the most unique looking woods there is, and every piece is different. I purchased my pieces in Japan, and have never seen it for sale in Australia.