Ebony (Diospyros spp)

Ebony timber, derived from the Diospyros spp. trees, is a prestigious timber known for its deep, lustrous black colour and fine texture. In boxmaking, we choose woods for their decorative appeal rather than their strength.

Characteristics of Ebony

  1. Colour/Appearance — Renowned for its jet-black heartwood, although some pieces may contain streaks of brown or grey. The profound blackness of the wood is highly sought after for its striking, bold appearance, making it a luxury material in any application.
  2. Grain/Texture — Usually straight grain but can occasionally be interlocked. It has a very fine texture and a high natural polish potential, resulting in a smooth, glossy finish that highlights the deep black colour.
  3. Odour — Mild, non-distinctive odour when being worked, which is typically not a significant factor in its use.
  4. Sustainability — Listed as endangered in many parts of its range due to overharvesting and habitat destruction. It is crucial to source Ebony responsibly, ensuring that it comes from legally managed forests and that sustainable practices are followed.
  5. Common Uses — Traditionally used in the manufacture of musical instruments such as piano keys and guitar fretboards, as well as in fine inlay work, small decorative items, and luxury furniture pieces. Its excellent smoothness and hardness make it ideal for detailed carving and turning.
  6. Alternative Names — Simply called by its generic name, Ebony, this wood includes various species of Diospyros, which are differentiated by slight variations in colour and hardness.
  7. Countries of Origin — Found in West Africa, Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia, Ebony trees grow in tropical rainforests. Each region yields wood with slightly different characteristics but all under the esteemed Ebony category.
  8. Box/Furniture Making — While not typically used for large furniture due to its cost and the size limitations of available wood, Ebony is perfect for decorative accents, small furniture parts, or luxury bespoke pieces where its distinctive colour and finish are prominently displayed.

Wood Alternatives Based on Colour

  1. African Blackwood — Also very dark and dense, African Blackwood is used in similar applications such as musical instruments and fine carvings.
  2. Bog Oak — A naturally darkened wood due to thousands of years of preservation in peat bogs, offering a deep brown to black colour that mimics Ebony’s appearance.
  3. Wenge — Known for its dark brown colour and striking grain patterns, Wenge can serve as a visually similar yet more readily available alternative.


Ebony stands out as a symbol of luxury and sophistication in the world of woodworking. Its unparalleled deep black colour and potential for a highly polished finish make it a favourite for high-end, decorative projects. While its use raises important sustainability concerns, responsible sourcing is key to preserving this valuable natural resource. For those seeking to incorporate a touch of elegance and lasting beauty into their work, Ebony remains a premier choice, exemplifying the pinnacle of natural wood aesthetics.

More information for Ebony

Explore further about Diospyros spp. or uncover the full range of applications and beauty of Ebony wood.

These boxes are made with Ebony & other woods