Goncalo alves, also known as tigerwood for its sometimes dramatic striping, is a beautiful and durable hardwood from Central and South America. Woodworkers appreciate goncalo alves for its striking beauty, durability, and strength.
The pale gray sapwood of goncalo alves gives way to a reddish-brown heartwood that can exhibit streaks of dark brown to black. Astronium fraxinifolium and Astronium graveolens are both commonly known as goncalo alves, and while Astronium fraxinifolium is more likely to exhibit the stunning striping tigerwood is known for, both possess a beautiful luster. As the wood ages, its color deepens to the dark reddish-brown of mahogany. Goncalo alves typically displays wavy or interlocked grain and fine texture.
Strength and Durability
Goncalo alves is extremely hard, with a Janka rating of 2,170 lb (similar to rosewood). It is dimensionally stable and resists warping. Because of its high resistance to insects, rot, and moisture, this hardwood is a good choice for exterior applications.
Uses of Goncalo Alves
In Central and South America, where it grows, goncalo alves is used mainly for construction, and also for fine furniture. In the United States, it is commonly used for small, valuable objects such as pool cue butts, gun stocks, archery bows, and jewelry boxes. Goncalo alves veneer is also popular for fine furniture.
Despite its hardness, goncalo alves is reasonably easy to work, at least when the wood is not highly figured. Because of its hardness and density, this wood definitely requires power tools, and it will blunt cutting edges, so use carbide-tipped blades.
Take care when sanding this extremely hard wood so you don’t leave scratches; avoid cross-graining sanding and don’t skip any grits. Find more woodworking tips for goncalo alves here.
This moisture-resistant hardwood also resists glue, so it’s a good idea to use an adhesive with a longer open time. Apply a light coat of glue, briefly put the joint together, then separate the pieces and let the glue set up for a moment before joining the pieces for good.
A clear finish shows off the beauty of goncalo alves to its best advantage.
Sustainability of Goncalo Alves
Goncalo alves is moderately priced for an imported hardwood and widely available as lumber, veneer, and craft blanks. Grown on plantations as well as in forests, it is a sustainable species that does not appear in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.