Sales of exotics thrive, though tastes vary

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Sumauma, courtesy of Superior Veneer & Plywood.

Sumauma, courtesy of Superior Veneer & Plywood.

Availability and design trends are driving sales of imported stock, according to hardwood and veneer suppliers interviewed by Woodshop News. Bloodwood, rosewood, Spanish cedar, lacewood and zebrawood continue to stand out for their striking appearance.

Matt Gilland of Superior Veneer & Plywood in New Albany, Ind., says trends and movement in exotics vary regularly and change rapidly.

“There’s not a certain species that people want all the time, but suddenly something will just become a hit. It rotates around because people have a specific look that a designer mentions, or they saw somewhere,” Gilland says.

“Right now, we’re working on a large quantity of afrormosia (Pericopsis elata) that’s running through the plant. In addition to that we had also run some material called sumauma (Ceiba pentandra), which has a really unusual look to it. Those are some of the more unusual ones and rather large jobs as well. We have had repeat requests for cumaru (Dipteryx odorata) and bamboo, and our requests for teak are pretty regular, too.”

Doug Grove of Groff & Groff Lumber in Quarryville, Pa., says customers are always looking for exotics to use as accents that make projects pop.

“We’re selling a lot of purpleheart, padauk, a lot of katalox (Swartzia cubensis). Those are the popular ones, and we’re having a really hard time finding satinwood and yellowheart (Euxylophora paraensis). We get a lot of requests for those but there’s just not a lot left,” says Grove.

“We always have an increase on exotics right before Christmas because people are making projects like cutting boards and they want bright colored woods for those.”

“For us, the exotics seem to be getting more popular,” adds Chad Muterspaw of C.R. Muterspaw Lumber in Xenia, Ohio. “We’ve sent out some decent quantities in almost all of our exotics. A lot of customers seem to like color variations that some of the exotics have. That’s one of the big reasons why we sell it. People are looking for rosewood or purpleheart because they can’t get those colors in domestics.

“We’ve also seen an increase in the mahoganies. A lot of that is because of that brownish tone that people are going with. We sell African, Honduran and sapele. Sapele seems to be on the rise for pricing. It’s a good alternative and pretty affordable for an exotic.”

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