Guide to Canarywood

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One of the most vibrant woods that you can find is canary wood. The variations in color and various woodgrain patterns you can get in this wood are fantastic. From bright yellow to a deep, reddish-brown and everything in-between!

Canary wood, native to South America, is a highly-robust with a prominent wood grain. It is hard, durable, and impervious to water. Canary wood is useful for tight cooperage (making barrels). It is also a versatile wood for many applications and a favorite of woodworkers across the United States and throughout the world.

Canary Wood: Background

Branch of Centrolobium tomentosum
Image Credit: Flickr: Araribá-rosa”Centrolobium tomentosum” Brazilian, canarywood via Creative Commons

Canary wood is a highly durable form of wood that you will find growing in South America, specifically in Panama and Brazil. The trees grow up to 100 feet, and the tree trunks up to a diameter of 3 feet.

It is quite a hard type of wood with a Janka hardness rating of 1,520 lbf. Canary wood is highly durable but susceptible to attack by the common furniture beetle. Otherwise, it responds well to preservative treatment and has permeable sapwood.

Regarding durability, other than the common furniture beetle, canary wood resists many insect termites and is resistant to fungi and decay. Due to its resistance to marine borers, it plays a prominent role in constructing ships and boats, particularly in making keels and decks. As canary wood is impervious to water, it serves well to make wooden barrels.

Canary wood has not been as popular as high-end woods like rosewood, teak, mahogany, and prime furniture woods. But it was extremely popular in South America, and you can still see this wood used abundantly in old buildings in that part of the world.

It was used for construction timber for building houses and of course, it also played a prominent role in making railroad ties.

But today, due to the increased popularity of canary wood, you can find it in a wide variety of applications in woodworking items, gift items, boxes, musical instruments, and so on. However, larger items made from this wood can be scarce.

Canary Wood: Appearance

Canary wood is one wood that hits you in the eye when you see it with its striking grain patterns and wide color range from bright yellow (like the canary-bird) to dark brown.

The grain patterns vary from one piece of wood to the other – it is an extremely striking wood. Canary wood is referred to by many as being a hardwood that is “one of a kind.” It is truly one of a kind with its varying grain patterns and colors.

There is much color variation between the heartwood and sapwood. The heartwood will have a lot of bright yellows, orange or reddish-brown with darker streaks. The sapwood is pale yellow. The sapwood tends to darken over time, somewhat reducing the demarcation between the heartwood and sapwood.

Canary Wood: Durability

We have already mentioned a lot about the durability of this wood. Therefore, it should suffice to say that it is a durable form of wood. It is resistant to most insects, fungal attacks, wood rot, and is an impervious wood.

It serves well for outdoor applications, particularly where the wood is likely to be exposed to the elements.

Canary Wood: Workability and Uses

Canary wood is easy to work with using machine and hand tools. You have to be careful about tearout, which occurs in regions where the wood grain interlocks considerably.

The wood has reasonable dimensional stability. You can also turn it, glue it, and drive screws and nails into it quite easily. However, you would be advised to use a pilot hole when using nails or screws on it.

There is a variety of woodworking items that you can make out of canary wood. For example, one woodworker made a beautiful pepper grinder and he found it easy to turn and finish with a melamine lacquer. Another woodworker made a 30-inch serving plate out of canary wood that looked classy, like a true collector’s item.

Canary wood is well-known for its turned items, particularly its striking wood grain.

Regular uses of canary wood include railway ties, construction lumber, boat building, general furniture, cabinets, flooring, and turned items.

Canary Wood: Pricing and Availability

Canary wood is a moderately priced wood and readily available despite being imported hardwood. You may find it a bit challenging to find larger canary wood lumber sections – you are more likely to procure smaller stock for making turned objects.

Canary Wood: Sustainability

This wood is not on any of the lists of endangered wood species.

Special Characteristics

One unique feature of canary wood worth mentioning is its excellent acoustic properties for making hi-fi system cabinets and speaker boxes.

Canary Wood: Comparison Table


Canary Wood

Botanical name Centrolobium spp.
Color Bright yellow to Reddish-brown
Durability  Highly Durable
Hardness (Janka Scale)  1,520 lbf.
Strength  Strong
Maintenance Easy to maintain
Price Moderately-priced
Suitability for outdoors Yes
Suitability for wood carving Yes
Workability Saws well but tearout can occur
Smell Distinct smell while working
Availability Readily available
Special features if any Excellent acoustic properties


Canary wood is extremely well-monitored, so there is no random harvesting. You may not come across this type of wood easily due to the strict control on its harvesting and production.

So, that is a very positive part of using canary wood. Even though you may find it difficult to procure, do not miss a chance to work on this fine, striking, durable, and easy-to-work-with wood. You can also rest assured that you are using sustainably harvested wood.