Merbau – Total Wood Species Guide

PROS: The color varies from different shades of brown to red brown with reddish-orange accents. The color of merbau deepens over time to a bold reddish brown. The wood has a coarse grain pattern that varies from wavy and interlocked to straight texture. The wood has yellow “flecks” in the pores that turn to a beautiful gold when it is finished. Its strength is comparable to hickory but is less dense. Its stability is similar to teak. Its properties are comparable to European beech. Merbau is naturally resistant to termites. It takes finishes very well. It doesn’t shrink that much with humidity changes. Merbau is a very stable wood.

CONS: Because merbau is such a dense wood, it will gum up saw teeth and dull hand tools. Merbau is a difficult wood to saw. If you want to have success working merbau, you will want to use carbide tools. This wood will turn black when it comes in contact with iron or other ferrous metals as well as with moisture. Make sure that you are going to use it in a room that will not have moisture or water problems or else you will end up having a black floor – and it won’t look even!

TREE FACTS: Merbau grows in the Indo-Malayan region of the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia as well as some other western Pacific islands. Merbau is used for furniture, panelling, window frames, joinery applications and musical instruments. The Environmental Investigation Agency has reported illegal logging of merbau in southeast Asia. Merbau is a very high risk and threatened species. The last rain forests in Indonesia are being destroyed for merbau flooring. It is considered a very luxurious wood and this is why it has been illegally logged. If you do purchase merbau, make sure it is coming from a legitimate source.