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Common Name(s): Brazilian Walnut, Ipe, Lapacho
Botanical Name: Tabebuia serratifolia
Woodworking Qualities: Because of the hardness of this wood, it is actually very difficult to work so far as machining is concerned. Lapacho has a startling tendency to dull bladed tools and a fierce resistance to being nailed, requiring pre-drilling of holes to properly set nails.
Janka Rating: Ipe's Janka rating is an unmatched 3680, virtually the hardest wood available. It is rated with Grade A, the same grade applied to concrete and cement in regards to fire rating. It is extremely difficult to damage, and exhibits resistant qualities to wear.
Species Characteristics: Renowned for its impressive durability, Brazilian Walnut possesses one of the highest rankings for hardwood. In addition to simple hardness, structurally, this wood is a magnificent choice for resistance to moisture as well as pests. It is important, however, to properly and extensively dry Ipe in a kiln to prevent shrinking during the installation process.
Appearance: Ipé heartwood usually shows an olive brown coloring to near black that at times may have darker or lighter striping, contrasting well against a white or yellow appearing sapwood. This wood has an oily appearance, and varying grain patterns from uniform and straight, to very irregular.
Color Change: Ipe, when milled, will show much color variation, which as time passes, will conform into a more uniform appearance. As time continues to pass, exposure to sunlight will darken the wood to a medium or dark brown color. In the case of Ipe decking, graying will occur, which can be remedied with annual pressure washing.
Uses: Ipe's more popular uses include functions that utilize the durability of such a strong wood. Railroad ties, outdoor decking, veneer surfacing, and heavy construction are all natural choices for a wood as hard as cement.
Brazilian Walnut, Ipe, Lapacho Origin:
Primarily Brazil and most of tropical America, with smaller quantities from the Lesser Antilles islands.