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Jatoba varies from yellowish hues, to pink/reds, to dark reds with black striping and an interlocked grain. Quartered selections yield the most uniform look and color range. The sapwood is white, gray, or pinkish in color, and is clearly demarcated from the heartwood. It is reported to be similar to maple in appearance. Like domestic cherry, Jatoba will change dramatically over time from the yellow/tan/salmon color, when freshly milled, into a deep, rich reddish color. In direct sunlight, the color change will occur within a few days. Out of sunlight, it will oxidize slowly over six months. Water-based finishes tend to retard the color change while oil based finishes enhance it. Jatoba is a very beautiful wood; with remarkable hardness that makes it an extremely popular and appealing wood.
Formal Name: Hymenaea Courbaril
Jatoba is found throughout the Caribbean, in the Cape Verde Islands, throughout the West Indies, from Cuba and Jamaica to Trinidad and Tobago. It is also found in central Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, French Guiana, Columbia and Surinam.
The wood is moderately difficult to saw and machine, largely because of its high density. It can be machined to a smooth surface, except in planing. The wood is somewhat difficult to plane because of the interlocked grain. It is moderately easy to glue and finishes satisfactorily. Its steam-bending properties are comparable to white oak.
Jatoba is prized for its pleasing color, beauty and durability. It is used in fine furniture and cabinetry, flooring, stair treads, parquet, architectural details, shipbuilding, joinery and turnery.