Common Name(s): African Padauk, Vermillion

Scientific Name: Pterocarpus soyauxii

Distribution: Central and tropical west Africa

Tree Size:100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall, 2-4 ft (.6-1.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 47 lbs/ft3 (745 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .61, .75

Janka Hardness: 1,970 lbf (8,760 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 16,830 lbf/in2 (116.0 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,700,000 lbf/in2 (11.72 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 8,130 lbf/in2 (56.0 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 3.3%, Tangential: 5.2%, Volumetric: 7.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.6


Color/Appearance: Heartwood color can vary, ranging from a pale pinkish orange to a deep brownish red. Most pieces tend to start reddish orange when freshly cut, darkening substantially over time to a reddish/purplish brown (some lighter pieces age to a grayish brown). See the articlePreventing Color Changes in Exotic Woods for more information.

Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight, but can sometimes be interlocked. With a coarse, open texture and good natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; mineral deposits occasionally present; growth rings indistinct; rays not visible without lens; apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates, banded; paratracheal parenchyma aliform (winged), confluent, and banded.

Rot Resistance: Has excellent decay resistance, and is rated as durable to very durable. Padauk is also reported to be resistant to termites and other insects.

Workability: Overall Padauk is easy to work; tearout may also occur during planing on quartersawn or interlocked grain. Padauk turns, glues, and finishes well.

Odor: Padauk has a faint, pleasing scent while being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Padauk has been reported as asensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Widely imported as lumber in a variety of lengths and thicknesses, as well as turning and craft blanks. Should be moderately priced for an import.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, flooring, turned objects, musical instruments, furniture, tool handles, and other small specialty wood objects.

Comments: Padauk has a very unique reddish orange coloration, and the wood is sometimes referred to by the name Vermillion. Unfortunately, this dramatic color is inevitably darkened to a deep reddish brown color. (See the article Preventing Color Changes in Exotic Woods for more information.) UV-inhibiting finishes may prolong, but not prevent the gradual color-shift of this brightly colored wood. Padauk is moderately heavy, strong, and stiff, with exceptional stability. It’s a popular hardwood among hobbyist woodworkers because of its unique color and low cost. Padauk is perhaps the most frequently misspelled (and mispronounced) wood species, with Padouk, Paduk, and Paduak being common misspellings. The most common pronunciation is pah-DUKE, it is sometimes mispronounced as Paducah—a city in Kentucky.

Related Species:

  • Amboyna (Pterocarpus indicus)
  • Andaman Padauk (Pterocarpus dalbergioides)
  • Burma Padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus)
  • Muninga (Pterocarpus angolensis)
  • Narra (Pterocarpus indicus)
  • Zitan (Pterocarpus santalinus)

Related Articles:

  • Fluorescence: A Secret Weapon in Wood Identification
  • Preventing Color Changes in Exotic Woods
  • Top Ten Most Overrated Woods


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