Acacia melanoxylon| Tonewood Profile | “Australian blackwood”
[Ed.- read more about this and other Australian Tonewoods in Jack Spira’s article on Australian Tonewood here. ]
Australian Blackwood is a fast growing evergreen tree wiith a native range in eastern Australia. It can age to 50 years and attains heights of 45m in the cooler rainforest climates of Tasmania but can tolerate urban, poor soil and water conditions very well.
It is an important horticultural as well as timber species in Australia but is known to be an invasive one in others. .
Within it’s native range, Australian Blackwood is widely exploited for it’s timber. The older, figured logs are now rarer but a good supply of the younger trees will continue for time to come. It has been planted as an ornamental as well as a timber species but has several draw backs.
1. It often damages undergoing piping and paving
2. It can invade local habits and force out native species.
Wikipedia writes:”It is a declared noxious weed species in South Africa. It was also recently listed by the California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) as an invasive weed that may cause limited impact (Knapp 2003).”
The heartwood is golden-brown taking on a glow when finished. It can display fiddleback as well as colour variations. Australian Blackwood has a Janka rating of 1270 and a Specific Gravity around 0.6.
As a tonewood…
Melbourne based luthier, Jack Spira says:
“It bends very well, although care is needed with the highly figured boards. Its stable enough to be reliable in service. I’ve not found it to be super stable though, so I’d say its important to get it well quarter sawn, and I tend to avoid using it for necks.”
I feel that the tone is very very similar to Koa, which a woody, open tone somewhere between mahogany and rosewood.
Jack Spira again:” How it sounds is a very subjective thing! To my ear, I think it tends to have a fair few high overtones, giving it a dry, sometimes reedy or breathy sound if that makes sense.”
Figured examples are getting rarer and hence more expensive, but supplies of younger growth look to be good for the near future.
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