Okoume Wood- Characteristics, Uses, Pros and Cons

What is Okoume Wood?

Okoume is a light brown, medium density and straight-grained African hardwood native to Central Africa but mostly found in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo. Okoume wood, also known as Gaboon or Okoumé.

The Okoume tree is a medium-sized deciduous tree. It typically has a straight, cylindrical trunk and a rounded or umbrella-shaped crown with sparse foliage. Okoume is fast-growing hardwood.

Overall, Okoume wood is valued for its lightweight and attractive appearance, making it a popular choice in a variety of industries.

Characteristics of Okoume Wood

#Okoume Wood
Scientific nameAucoumea klaineana
Tree Size30 to 40 meters (98 to 131 feet) height and 1 to 1.5 meters (3.3 to 4.9 feet) trunk diameter.
Dried Weight27 lbs/ft3 (430 kg/m3)
Janka Hardness400 lbf (1,790 N)
Crushing Strength5,250 lbf/in2 (36.2 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial4.6%, Tangential: 7.1%, Volumetric: 12.2%, T/R Ratio: 1.5
Wood TypeHardwood

What is Okoume Wood Used For?

Okoume is a versatile hardwood used for a wide range of applications. Here are some common applications of Okoume wood:

Boat Building

Okoume wood is widely used to make boats and other marine applications. It is used in the production of marine plywood. Okoume plywood is lightweight, making it ideal for building light and efficient boats.

Furniture Making

Okoume wood is used for high-quality and durable furniture. Its attractive appearance, with its pale pink to light brown color and straight or interlocked grain pattern, adds to its appeal in furniture design.

Musical Instruments

Instrument makers favor Okoume wood because of its acoustic properties. It is often used in the construction of acoustic guitars, contributing to a resonant and vibrant sound. Its lightweight nature also helps to create instruments that are comfortable to hold and play.

Decorative Paneling

Okoume wood is the perfect choice for making decorative panels such as wall paneling and ceiling panels. Its natural color can enhance the aesthetics of interior spaces, providing a warm appearance.

Is Okoume Wood Good For Guitars?

Okoume wood is a great option for acoustic guitars. It offers excellent sound projection. Its lightweight properties make it easy to work with, and Its tonal qualities are top-notch, producing a clean, warm, and sustained tone similar to Mahogany wood. 

Many alternative wood can be good choices for acoustic guitars, such as Koa, Mahogany, Spruce, Maple, and Rosewood. Each of these woods brings its own unique characteristics that contribute to the distinctive sound.

Wood Appearance

Okoume wood ranges from light pink to light brown. However, The color of the wood depends on the specific wood block and tree. Generally, Okoume wood is light and warm in appearance, with variations that may include pinkish, peach, or yellowish-brown tones.

Okoume wood has a straight to wavy grain pattern with a medium texture. Its grain looks very similar to mahogany wood, so it is also used as a substitute for mahogany.

Does Okoume Wood Fade Over Time?

No, it does not fade over time, but Okoume wood darkens over time when exposed to UV light and air, like other hardwood.

Advantages of Okoume Wood

Okoume wood has several advantages that make it a popular choice for a variety of projects. Here are some advantages of Okoume wood are as follows:


One of the main advantages is its light brown natural appearance, which adds visual appeal to finished products. The wood is easy to stain and finish to achieve the desired aesthetic look.

Versatile Applications

Okoume wood can be used for various wooden applications, such as boat building, furniture, veneer production, decorative paneling, musical instruments and many more.


Okoume wood is relatively easy to work with hand and machine tools. It is easy to cut, shape, and machine. Okoume wood can be easily nailed, screwed, glued, and finished, making it versatile for various woodworking projects.

Disadvantages of Okoume Wood

While Okoume wood offers many advantages but has some disadvantages that should be known before using it, here are some of the disadvantages of Okoume wood:

Not Rot-Resistant

Okoume wood is not naturally resistant to rot and insects, so it is not suitable for outdoor purposes without chemical treatment.

Low Durability

Okoume wood is not as durable as some other wood species. It has a short life span and needs extra care and regular maintenance to keep it durable.

Limited Availability

Okoume wood is mainly sourced from Central African countries such as Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo. Its availability may be limited in some regions, making it less accessible or more expensive in some markets.

Color Variation

There may be color variation in pieces of wood from different Okoume trees. it can also pose challenges in achieving consistent color matching across projects.

Okoume wood Hardness and Density

Okoume is a soft African hardwood that weighs less than most hardwoods. Okoume wood has a Janka hardness value of 400 lbf (1,790 N) and an average dried weight of 27 lbs/ft3 (430 kg/m3).

Here are the hardness values of some wood species to give you an idea of how hard Okoume is.

Wood speciesJanka Hardness
Balsam Poplar300 lbf (1,330 N)
Yellow buckeye350 lbf (1,560 N)
Quaking Aspen350 lbf (1,560 N)
Norway Spruce380 lbf (1,680 N)
Okoume400 lbf (1,790 N)
Balsam fir400 lbf (1,780 N)
Eastern Cottonwood430 lbf (1,910 N)
Redwood450 lbf (2,000 N)
Lodgepole Pine480 lbf (2,140 N)
Bald cypress510 lbf (2,270 N)
Pond Pine740 lbf (3,290 N)
Aromatic Red Cedar900 lbf (4,000 N)

Working with Okoume Wood

Okoume wood is easy to work with hand and machine, as its density and weight are generally lower than most hardwoods. Due to the presence of high silica, it can create a blunt effect on the blade during cutting. So use sharp tools while working with such species.

When working with Okoume Wood, it is recommended to pre-drill pilot holes to prevent splitting or cracking of the wood.

Wood has good adhesive properties and can be easily glued using standard woodworking adhesives.

Okoume Wood Price

Okoume wood and plywood are available at reasonable prices. However, The price can depending on several factors, including its quality, availability, market demand, and your location.

It is difficult to tell the exact current market price of any wood because wood prices may fluctuate over time due to changes in the lumber market and other economic factors.

How to Care for Okoume Wood?

Okoume wood is not rot-resistant and durable, so it needs regular care and maintenance to maintain its appearance and longevity. Here are some tips on how to properly care for Okoume wood:

  • Remove dust from the wooden surface with a cloth or soft brush.
  • Okoume wood is not moisture resistant, so protect it from exposure to excessive moisture.
  • For regular cleaning, use a wood cleaner mixed with mild soap or water; always Avoid Harsh chemical-based cleaners.
  • Applying a protective finish, such as wood polish, wax, or varnish, can enhance the natural color and appearance.

Is Okoume Wood Toxic?

No, Okoume wood is not considered toxic. But skin, eye and respiratory irritation are common problems reported when working with it.

However, Some people may have sensitivities or allergies to certain types of wood dust. When working with any wood, including Okoume wood, it is recommended to take proper safety measures to reduce exposure to dust particles.

What is African Okoume Wood?

African Okoume wood, also known simply as Okoume wood, is a type of hardwood sourced from the Okoume tree (Aucoumea klaineana). It is native to Central Africa, primarily found in countries such as Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo.

Is Okoume a Good Tone of Wood?

Yes, Okoume wood is often regarded as a good tonewood for musical instruments, particularly acoustic guitars. It is popular to produce balanced tones and sustained notes. In terms of tone, it is similar to mahogany.

Where to Buy Okoume Wood?

To purchase Okoume lumber, you have several options, such as online lumber retailers, local woodworkers or craftsmen, and local lumber yards. But always keep one thing in mind: always buy from a trusted dealer so that you get the right Okoume wood at a reasonable price.