Much of the work of Africa is in wood. Sculpture, drums, jewelry, etc.
Among the most notable woods associated with Africa:
Ebony is a general name for very dense black wood. In the strict sense it is yielded by several species in the genus Diospyros, but other heavy, black (or dark colored) woods (from completely unrelated trees) are sometimes also called ebony.
Ebony is one of the most intensely black woods known, which, combined with its very high density (it is one of the woods that sink in water), fine texture, and ability to polish very smoothly, has made it very valuable as an ornamental wood.
Ebony has a long history of use, with carved pieces having been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs. The word "ebony" derives from the Ancient Egyptian hbny, via the Ancient Greek ἔβενος (ébenos), by way of Latin and Middle English.
By the end of the 16th century, fine cabinets for the luxury trade were made of ebony in Antwerp. The dense hardness lent itself to refined moldings framing finely detailed pictorial panels with carving in very low relief (bas-relief), usually of allegorical subjects, or scenes taken from classical or Christian history. Within a short time, such cabinets were also being made in Paris, where their makers became known as ébénistes, which remains the French term for a cabinetmaker.
Modern uses are largely restricted to small sizes, particularly in musical instrument making, including piano and harpsichord keys, violin, viola, guitar, and cello fingerboards, endpieces, pegs and chinrests. Traditionally, black piano and harpsichord keys were ebony, and the black pieces in chess sets were made from ebony, with rare boxwood or ivory being used for the white pieces.
Teak (Tectona), is a genus of tropical hardwood trees in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to the south and southeast of Asia, and is commonly found as a component of monsoon forest vegetation. They are large trees, growing to 30-40 m tall, deciduous in the dry season.
The name teak comes from the Malayalam word Thekku.
The yellowish brown timber with good grains and texture from teak trunk is used in the manufacture of outdoor furniture, boat decks, and other articles where weather resistance is desired. It is also used for indoor flooring and as a veneer for indoor furnishings.
Teak is easily worked and has natural oils that make it suitable for use in exposed locations and termite and pest proof, where it is durable even when not treated with oil or varnish. Timber cut from old Teak trees grown slowly in natural forests is more durable and harder; teak from young trees grown in plantations is more prone to splitting and water damage, however kiln drying allows for sustainable, plantation-grown teak to perform nearly on par with old-growth teak.
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-coloured hardwood, it is an American Indian word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany.
Mahogany has a generally straight grain and is usually free of voids and pockets. It has a reddish-brown color, which darkens over time, and displays a beautiful reddish sheen when polished. It has excellent workability, and is very durable. The size of the trees meant that wide boards were once available (and still are of the non-endangered varieties). These properties make it a favourable wood for crafting furniture.
Much of the first-quality furniture made in the American colonies from the mid 1700s, when the wood first became available to American furniture makers, was made of mahogany. Mahogany resists wood rot, which makes it suitable for boat construction. It is also often used for musical instruments, particularly the backs of guitars.
Mahogany is used for drum making, because of its integrity and capability to produce a very dark, warm tone (as compared to other more common wood types like maple or birch).
A wide variety of electric guitars are also made with mahogany, like Gibson's Les Paul.
Mahogany is also commonly used in acoustic guitars. The wood is most often used to make the back, sides, or neck of a guitar, but it is sometimes used to make the top (soundboard) as well. Guitars with mahogany soundboards tend to have a softer, darker tone than those made from spruce.
Bubinga: The best-known Guibourtia timber is bubinga (Guibourtia demeusei, aka kevazingo). Another is ovangkol. Species of Guibourtia also produce Congo copal.
The wood is often used by luthiers for harps and other instruments, such as bass guitars, because of its mellow and well-rounded sound. It has been used in drum shells as well. Drum companies such as Tama offer various high-end drum kits with plies of Bubinga in the shells.
Bubinga is sometimes used in the production of archery bows, in particular as the main wood of the handle in some flat bows.
Bubinga is also used in furniture making, usually for tables, as large slabs of the dense wood can be cut, and with very little manipulation, be used for a table top.
Bubinga often has an appearance similar to the mineral tiger eye. Light brown through dark brown and red, some samples show as almost purple.
Luxury car maker Lexus also makes use of the wood in their luxury vehicles.