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What is Morado, Why Do I Care?

Basically it’s a highly decorative, dark, dense hardwood that, in many ways, resembles impossible-to-get Brazilian Rosewood or super-rare Indian Rosewood. Except this stuff comes from several certified sustainable forestry operations in parts of South America.

Depending on where it comes from, or who’s re-selling it, the wood can go by any one of several names:

  • Pau Ferro
  • Jacaranda
  • Bolivian Rosewood
  • Santos Rosewood

If you want to summon your inner botanist, it goes by Machaerium scleroxylon.

We stock sustainably harvested morado for your woodworking projects

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Why Use It in Woodworking?

If it’s not obvious . . . to start, use it if you like how it looks. I made the taco tray and plate set below just to demonstrated how the wood looks when paired with something you might be acquainted with (hard maple), and to give you an idea of how well the wood can really elevate the look of a project.

Okay, more specifically, this wood is a bit harder and denser than American hard maple – and that means a few things to you as a maker.

First, don’t be led to believe the wood is hard to use. Quite the opposite. You’ll be surprised at how well it slices on your table saw with a mid-level carbide-tipped blade without burning or chipping. Same goes for routing and planing, but, yeah, it puts some wear on your cutters.

Second, that density and hardness works in your favor when it comes to cutting and shaping for precision work. In that regard, it’s really nice to work with.

What to Be Aware Of

Color variety. As the name “rosewood” suggests, the wood offers a lot of variety; from board to board you can’t really expect a lot of perfect grain matching. And some boards are darker than others, but it all blends in a lot better than the raw boards look once you apply a finish.

I know, I know. It’s a little bit of a gamble, and that’s what makes this wood a fun adventure.

Oil in the wood. It’s not very discernible as you work with it, but the wood can have a kiss of natural oil in it. That means it’s possible (not certain but possible), it can conflict with wood glue and some wood finishes. Here’s what to do though:

  • Glue up your joints after cutting them; don’t wait over night
  • If you do have to wait over night (or longer), wipe the joints with acetone immediately before gluing
  • Regular wood glue is fine as long as you follow those rules

How to Finish Morado

The tray and plate set are finished with a cutting board oil and food-safe wood wax by Walrus Oil. But that’s not the only way to finish the wood – it made sense for that project, but your project might be different. Here are a few tips:

  • An oil will pop the grain and boost the wood’s rich, dark color. Tung oil, boiled linseed oil, Danish oil are examples. There are thousands of oils on the market to pick from and they generally do the same thing
  • Your first coat of oil should be very light. That means don’t bathe it. Wipe on, wipe off excess, and let it dry well before applying more coats or applying a different top coat. Remember the natural oil in the wood we talked about? Yeah, a light coat of an oil finish will ensure you don’t run into drying problems
  • If you don’t want to use an oil, go to dewaxed shellac. Either as just a sealer coat, or as the finish itself. It’s the perfect sealer for this kind of wood that will ensure you get a nice barrier between whatever is lurking in the wood and whatever you intend to use as a final topcoat
  • Waterbased finishes are fine as long as you apply a coat of dewaxed shellac first
  • Urethanes and lacquers are also fine, but same tip: use a coat of dewaxed shellac first just to ensure they won’t conflict with the wood

Vice President of Operations – Woodworkers Source
We’re a family-owned lumber & woodworking supply retailer with 3 delightful stores in Arizona, and 35 friendly employees.
Mark oversees the company and creates tutorials on wood finishing and woodworking tips for hardwood lumber.

Woodworkers Source is a division of MacBeath Hardwood Co.

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