Chatoyancy in action

Working out a concept for a box for my Aries sister…

Yellowheart inlaid on wenge. The yellowheart glows like gold.


Having a background in lapidary I used that term to describe the light playing along the wood fibers, and was educated by the woodworkers here that in their trade the phenomena is known as ‘Figure’.

Looks like you got a really nice tight fit on that inlay! :sunglasses: What is the base wood?


Yellowheart / wenge (see above) :slight_smile:

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Opps, I missed that, thanks.

Really lovely. I hope you plan to show us the box when it’s finished!

The wenge is stained or is that how it looks normally?

I’m looking for a way to make a black wood with some “figure” or subsurface detail, whatever you call it. It would be the base of an inlay project like yours.

TL; DR: Not stained, just waxed/oiled. And no subsurface detail to speak of with Wenge, though it does have good texture.

Longer version:

Wenge doesn’t have any subsurface figuring, as far as I can see. It’s got good veining though – the grain gives it a striking black and dark brown veined surface. The yellow heart, however, shines as well as any hardwood I’ve tried, as does Padauk, Bloodwood, and some maples. I’m sure there’s a list of woods with good figuring out there somewhere, my experience is fairly limited.

What I have learned in my short time fooling with hardwoods: If you want to see the figuring, you need to get your wood as smooth as possible. I sanded up to 1500 grit (granted, this was a very quick experiment, so I didn’t take as much care as I could have), but you don’t see any figuring until you are at a very good 400 grit finish at least, preferably 600+.

Once I sanded it, I quickly wiped with a damp cloth to remove all the sanding dust I could (I used a lint free cloth lightly damp with denatured alcohol), then simply wiped it down with Feed n Wax. Any clear rub-on finish should work pretty well. (Briwax, Feed n wax, danish oil, etc. All have worked well for me.)


Great info, thanks!

One of my favorite woods to work with is Curly Maple and it has a TON of figuring in the wood, that can be stained pretty dark (maybe even black). Another term to look for with finding interesting wood is Ribbon.