Wenge Wood | Properties, Uses, Pros and Cons


Wenge Wood(Millettia laurentii) is native to the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea. It is a very rare and expensive hardwood.

Wenge is very popular because of its combination of durability, coloring, and many other properties.  It is widely used for flooring, furniture, Cabinets, and Millwork. It is a great wood to have as part of any interior and exterior.

Scientific NameMillettia laurentii
Tree size60-90 ft (18-27 m) tall, 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight54 lbs/ft3 (870 kg/m3)
Janka Hardness1,930 lbf (8,600 N)
Wood colormedium brown to yellowish
Rot Resistanceresistant to termite attack
WorkabilityOverall good
OdorThe slightly bitter scent when being worked
UsesVeneer, paneling, furniture, turned objects, and musical instruments.


Sporting Goods: Wenge is very strong, stiff, and also durable. It has great shock resistance properties. Hence its use for sporting goods and tool handles. Its modulus of elasticity (MOE) value is 1.97 million psi. It is a suitable wood to withstand high shock.

Furniture: It ranges from medium to dark brown. It is also used as an accent wood for furniture and cabinets. Dark wood is considered suitable for making furniture. Because they get better with age and provide a luxurious, bold, and dramatic feel to any room.

Musical Instruments: Wenge is a great option to make musical instruments. It is resonant, beautiful, and durable.

Flooring: Wenge wood is used for flooring because of its great hardness(Janka Hardness is 1,930 lbf (8,600 N)) and dark color. Scratches and dents are common problems for softwood Flooring. 

But this problem is much less likely to happen with wedge wood. However, to make the wood floor last for a long time, care and maintenance are required.

Pros and cons


  1. Wenge wood is known for its visual appeal, color, and rich partridge wood pattern. 
  2. Very durable, and resistant to termite attack.
  3. Its density is very high, so it does not absorb water and remains durable even in moisture.
  4. Natives of Central Africa use it as traditional medicine (skin issues, fever, rheumatism, hernia).
  5. Available in a wide range. 
  6. It has been used in all types of interior and exterior applications.
  7. Wenge is very strong (MOR is 16,200 psi) and very stiff (MOE is 1.97 million psi).


  1. It is the cause of allergy/poisoning. Wenge wood dust affects the nervous system, abdominal cramps, irritation of the skin and eyes.
  2. Due to the high density, It can Blunt tool edges and Difficult to work with hand and machine tools.
  3. Too tough for manual hand cutting and polishing, the blade must be sharp for continuous cutting.
  4. Due to its high weight (54 lbs/ft3 (870 kg/m3)) it is difficult to work at high altitudes and also has many difficulties in transportation.
  5. Due to high demand, Its price is high.


It is unbelievably heavy and not easy to work. Because its density and coarse texture are very high. Machine tools can be easier to work, compared to manual and hand tools. 

The heat of the blade and blunt tool edges are common problems during the cutting of wenge wood. There is a high chance of injury while working. So work with caution.

Pre-drilling is recommended for screwing and nailing. Paint and polish can be done easily.


Generally, it is easily available in many sizes at local and online stores. Wenge wood is not listed in the CITES Appendices but listed on the IUCN Red List. Due to its high demand and continuous harvesting, its population has reduced by 50% in the last 3 years.

Rot and Insects Resistance 

Wenge wood is very resistant to rot and termite attack like many other hardwoods. It contains chemical compounds that protect themselves against decay and moisture. That means it does not require any kind of treatment and chemical processes. It does not allow moisture to penetrate the wood due to its dense grain pattern. 

But painting and polishing provide extra care and protection for exterior application. It acts as a protection layer between the wood and the external environment. Which increases the lifespan of the wood. 

Most hardwoods have rot resistance properties but not all have them. Some softwoods also have great rot resistance properties such as cedar, cypress, and redwood.


Wenge is tropical timber. It can be easily recognized due to its great dark color and grain pattern. 

It is heavy and hard, suitable for flooring and furniture.

Is Wenge Wood Expensive?

Wenge wood is a rare and expensive wood. Its price ranges from $25.00 to $30 per board foot. But it was not always an expensive wood. 20 to 25 years ago its price was $ 7 to $ 8 per board foot. Because it has been harvested a lot in 20 to 25 years and now it is a rare wood.

The price of wood depends on many things. Such as place, quality, and quantity. You can get a great offer by buying it in bulk at wood’s native (Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea) place. 

What color is wenge wood?

The heartwood of wenge wood is medium brown(or copper undertones), sometimes there are streaks of reddish or yellowish and the sapwood is yellowish. 

It does not change its color with time, It gets darker when an oil-based finish.

How to finish wenge wood?

It is not easy to work but it finishes very easily with almost any method. According to the expert, Sanding the surface to 320 grit and a few applications of any good oil-varnish. After penetrating for a while it will look great.

Wenge is a great wood and looks better with a less formal finish. Unlike other woods, this does not require a lot of work.

Is wenge wood toxic?

Wenge wood is toxic and allergic. Dust can cause irritation of the skin and eyes. Breathing Wenge wood dust has been reported to cause central nervous system effects.

Those who have sensitive skin and allergic problems need to work with caution. Cover hands and eyes well before working.

Where does wenge wood come from?

Wenge wood comes from the forests of Zaire, Cameroon, Gabon, the southern regions of Tanzania, and Mozambique

Can wenge wood be painted?

Yes, Wenge can be painted easily. Its grain holds the paint easily.