Bubinga Wood Alternatives

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Humankind has exploited Mother Earth to such an extent that the damage caused has almost reached an irreversible stage. One of the major offenses in the exploitation of the earth over the years has been deforestation. Not only was the environment destroyed, but trees were ruthlessly ripped out with no intention of replacing them.

Today there are many endangered flora and fauna on a very long list. One of the categories, in particular, is trees and their timber thereof. A prominent endangered wood species is rosewood. We started looking for alternatives to the about-to-become-extinct rosewood. Bubinga wood was one of those alternatives.

Then, the worst happened. People began overusing Bubinga wood as well, and finally, it has found itself on the list of endangered wood species. Now, there is a need to find an alternative to an alternative! In this post, we take a look at some viable woods that can serve as an alternative to Bubinga. So, here goes!

Bubinga Wood Alternatives

Bubinga is an alternative to rosewood and we discuss it in another post. Rosewood has its own set of alternatives. Many rosewood alternatives, not all, may serve as good alternatives to Bubinga. We can add a few additional ones to complete the picture. Here are our alternatives to rosewood:

Pau Ferro

Pau Ferro Machaerium scleroxylon
Image Credit: Sondich via Creative Commons

Pau Ferro (Machaerium scleroxylon) comes from South America. The trees reach a maximum height of 100 feet and the wood is fairly hard with a Janka hardness of 1,960.

This wood may be orange, reddish, or a dark shade of violet-brown, punctuated with dark streaks. The wood has a straight grain and the surface is smooth, providing a high luster. Although durable Pau Ferro offers little protection from insects.

You will find it easy to work with this wood, but any blades that you use on it will become blunt easily. There is also a tendency for tear-outs at points where the wood grain is irregular.

Pau Ferro is cheaper than Bubinga and other similar woods. You can use it for making cabinets, musical instruments, flooring and for making veneer.

Santos Mahogany

Santos mahogany (Myroxylon balsamum) also goes by the name Cabreuva. You will find this wood occurring naturally in Southern Mexico and Central and South America. The trees grow to a height of 100 feet and the wood is quite hard having a Janka hardness of 2,400.

A characteristic of Santos mahogany boards is the wide color variation – you can see colors from a light golden brown to a dark red or purple. The grain of this wood is tightly interlocked with a natural luster.

Santos mahogany is quite durable and resistant to decay with a fair degree of resistance to insect attack. The wood is not so easy to work with in terms of gluing and staining and it has a considerable blunting effect on blades. But ultimately, you can get a satisfactory finish with this wood.

It has a unique, juicy odor that comes out when being cut or sanded. The trees are also used as an ingredient for perfumes. The wood is not listed as an endangered wood species and you can easily procure it and it is not highly expensive.

We use Santos mahogany for making a variety of wooden items like furniture, flooring, interior trim, and heavy construction.

Chechen/Caribbean Rosewood

Chechen Rosewood knife handle
Image Credit: BDMillan via Creative Commons

Here’s another wood variety that shares similarities with Bubinga. Chechen (Metopium brownei) also carries the names Caribbean Rosewood, Chechem and black poisonwood. You will find it in Cuba, Guatemala, Belize, Jamaica, The Dominican Republic and Southeastern Mexico.

The maximum height of the trees is up to 115 feet and the wood is hard with a Janka hardness rating of 2,250. The wood’s shades are from brown and orange to red and it has dark brown stripes and becomes dark over time.

Its wood grain is straight with some interlocking with a natural luster and a fine texture. It is highly durable and has considerable resistance to insect attack. You can work with this wood easily, but some tearout may occur if you machine it.

It is easier to find Chechen than other Bubinga substitutes and it is not an endangered species of wood. You can get it at a moderate price. We use this wood to make furniture, turned objects, flooring and cabinets.

East Indian Rosewood

Hand Carved East Indian Rosewood
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Although primarily a substitute for Brazilian rosewood East Indian rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) makes a viable alternative to Bubinga as well. It grows in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and the trees reach a maximum height of 100 feet. The wood is quite hard with a Janka hardness of 2,440.

East Indian rosewood comes in a golden-brown color or it may be purplish-brown color and punctuated with dark streaks. The wood becomes dark with age. It has a tight, narrowly interlocked grain that is The wood has a high resistance to termite attack and wood rot.

You will find this wood rather difficult to work with and it can have an adverse effect on the sharpness of tools that you use on it. The wood has a rosy fragrance when you cut it.

It is difficult to procure East Indian Rosewood and it is an endangered species of wood. We make musical instruments, turned wooden objecst, veneer and fine furniture from East Indian Rosewood.

Macassar Ebony

Macassar Ebony
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Macassar ebony (Diospyros celebica) grows in Southeast Asia and we also call it striped ebony and Amara ebony. The trees reach a maximum height of 65 feet, and the wood is very hard, with a Janka number of 3,220.

The wood resembles zebrawood because of its stripes. It is reddish-brown or yellow. The wood grain is straight and it shows a few interlockings, but with a smooth, fine surface. It is durable but less so when it comes to insect attack.

The extreme hardness will prevent you from working with it easily. The same hardness makes cutting tools blunt frequently. It is an expensive wood but not yet officially declared as an endangered wood species.

We use Macassar ebony for making exotic items like billiard cues, musical instruments and special wooden articles.


Ziricote Cordia dodecandra
Image Credit: Friedrich Böhringer via Creative Commons

We find Ziricote (Cordia dodecandra) in Central America and Mexico. The trees achieve a maximum height of 65 feet. The wood is fairly hard and has a Janka hardness of 1,970. Ziricote’s wood grain has earned names like “spider-webbing” and “landscape.”

The wood grain interlocks slightly but the surface is smooth with a natural luster. The wood exhibits a fair level of durability and resists decay.

There is a slight interlocking in the wood grain, with a smooth texture and natural luster. The wood is durable and has a natural resistance to decay. You will find Ziricote easy to work with but be wary of defects that tend to develop at the plank ends once they dry. You can turn, finish and glue this wood easily.

Ziricote is an expensive wood but it isn’t an endangered wood species. We use this wood to make furniture, cabinets, and veneer and exotic wooden items like gunstocks, musical instruments and special wooden articles.


In woodworking, if you are short of material somewhere, you have to improvise. One of the classic ways you need to adjust is to be open to alternative woods when a particular type isn’t available. We hope that we have provided you with sufficient options so that you can continue your work even if you are unable to procure Bubinga wood.

Happy Woodworking!