Sought-after imports add color and contrast

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Purpleheart (right) and padauk.

Purpleheart (right) and padauk.

Sales of exotic woods continues to flourish, according to suppliers and importers interviewed by Woodshop News.

“[Buyers] are looking for the vibrant colors, the yellowhearts and padauks and other pretty woods that have a color contrast with something else,” says Chad Muterspaw, owner of C.R. Muterspaw Lumber Co. in Xenia, Ohio.

“We’ve seen this in large scale projects, not just with the hobbyists, but some of our bigger cabinet shops. When they’re going to exotic woods, most of our customers are looking for a more vibrant color than in domestic species. They are extremely popular, and the demand is high. In the last year or so, the demand has steadily increased.

“Yellowheart has been hard to get,” adds Muterspaw. “We’ve just added Caribbean rosewood and there’s a lot of color variation in that.”

Rocky Mehta of West Penn Hardwoods in Conover, N.C. specializes in exotic species and offers a vast selection. Material for tabletops has been moving especially well.

“I’m selling a lot of slabs of Guanacaste, monkeypod and jatoba, padauk, sapele and African mahogany. Thirty percent of our sales are slabs,” says Mehta.

Mehta says short boards – 3’ to 5’ in length – are also popular. “I’m bringing some shorter lengths of what normally are 7’ to 8’ and longer boards. This makes up about 25 percent of my business. Some of my customers are hobbyists and are so thrilled to pay 30 percent less.”

Bob Putnam of Rare Woods USA in Mexico, Maine says online sales have picked up. “It’s a relatively new venture for us and it’s going quite well. We have mostly rough lumber but for that we’ll run it past the planer so you can see the figure better through our online tools. Boxwood is one species we have that is very hard to find so we’ve sold a good amount of that. Tulipwood is another that’s really hard to find and people really like it.” 

This article originally appeared in the November 2019 issue.

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