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February 24, 2005

Weigh in on Wenge

Millettia Laurentii-Wenge is an African wood, a dark coffee brown in color, with a regular, closely spaced grain of dark brown to black. Its unique color and regular grain make it valuable as an accent wood or for furniture, so says Northwest Fine Woodworking.

Pronounced "when-gay", the wood was introduced about four years ago in Europe -- and has slowly made its way across the Atlantic. Now everything is wenge-looking. Rarely is the exotic wood used, rather it is "wenge-stained" cherry or oak or whatever. So apparently the wood is not the issue -- the color is. (And in Europe, the dark chocolatey-black has been replaced with a smoke-colored stain. You can expect that look to float to our shores about 2010.)

And in typical design style -- what started out as an accent is now the entire ensemble. Wenge is the not so new black that is dominating showrooms from Milan to High Point.

So here is the question: What is it with wenge? If you love wood -- why invest in something where the grain is obscured with a dark stain? Furniture designers admit to me they don't understand the allure either. When it was rare it was one thing -- but now ....

So what do you think? Is Wenge the new black -- or a nightmare fad?

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Comment on This Article Here! Weigh in on Wenge:

Wenge woods are definitely the fad. People are trying to bring back a new version of an asian feel by use of modern styles and dark brown stains.
Currently, the Win bedroom (only offered in Wenge) is one of the hottest contemporary bedrooms we offer.
You can see it at
John Kenyon

Posted by: | Apr 21, 2005 4:17:20 PM

Wenge war mentioned in Europe not four years before, but in 1955: Sallenave: Propietes physiques et mechaniques des bois tropiceaux. CTFT, Nogent sur Marne. Use for veneer described first by FPL, Madison in "Veneer Species of the World".

Now I like to know about discolorations of the heartwood, in fresh condition or after kilning of boards showing as yellow streaks.

This is not the well known problem of bleaching during use over years.

Posted by: Truebswetter | May 15, 2005 4:33:30 AM

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