Lignum vitae

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Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum officinale)


The dense, heavy heartwood of the tropical evergreen guayacum trees, Guaiacum officinale and Guaiacum sanctum, that are native to the West Indies and the coast of Central America. Lignum vitae is the heaviest of all woods. The dark brown to black wood is tough and difficult to carve, but it is valued for its fine grain that polishes to a high gloss. The principal use of lignum vitae is for making of bowling balls, pulley sheaves, and mallet heads. It is naturally resistant to fungi.

Synonyms and Related Terms

wood of life; Guaiacum officinale; Guaiacum sanctum; gaïac (Fr.); gaiaco (Port.)

Density 73-83 ppcf

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 451
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965 Comment: 73-80 ppcf
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 5512
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=73-83 ppcf (1.17-1.33 g/cm3)

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