Iroko, Ipe, and Other Exotic Woods in Los Angeles Worth a Second Look

Dedicated woodworkers, artisans, and cabinetmakers are always looking for the ideal pieces of wood. Though domestic wood species, such as white oak, red oak, hard maple, and walnut, are excellent in their own right, woodworkers looking for a more unique piece will look for other options. These alternatives are available to woodworkers and artisans as exotics. The most popular exotics are teak, mahogany, and, for something closer to home, Tennessee cedar. However, choices are limited to what certain lumberyards can provide. Fortunately, Bohnhoff Lumber Co. offers a vast range of options in our lumber yard. Though we encounter challenges in sourcing these incredible species of exotics, we share in the love of fine woodworking by making the extra effort to provide you with the following exotic woods.

What Makes These Exotics Woods in Los Angeles Worth a Second Look?

Exotics Woods in Los Angeles


There are many reasons why these exotics are worth a second look. These rarer exotics are as tough or tougher than the best domestic hardwoods. Moreover, they are heavy, dense, and for the most part, insect-resistant and waterproof. However, what sets them apart from domestic hardwoods and other exotics, such as teak and mahogany, is their exceptional beauty. Each has grain patterns and tones that make pieces unique. There is rarely an instance when furniture, interior trims, or even flooring made of these exotics doesn’t impress those who see them. Let us explore six of available exotic woods in our Los Angeles lumberyard.


Iroko, lumberyard, Los Angeles


Iroko is one of the most sought-after exotics in our lumberyard. Because we appreciate its excellent qualities, we are featuring it again. If you find teak pricey, iroko offers a more affordable alternative. Like teak, iroko is resistant to decay and insect attacks. Iroko is durable and resistant to rot, making it an outstanding choice for outdoor applications, including decking, flooring, furniture, and siding. Iroko's appearance is what sets it apart. Its golden yellow heartwood is clearly demarcated from its paler yellow sapwood. Though its coarse texture and interlocking grain do not appeal to many, the wood has a character that makes it attractive to some woodworkers and furniture enthusiasts. Though iroko is moderately-priced among exotics, it is only occasionally available. However, if you can get your hands on iroko pieces, you can be assured of an excellent exotic that is tough but has easy workability.


 Exotics Woods in Los Angeles

Ipe's density, decay and insect resistance, and toughness make it capable of handling heavy foot traffic for years. If you happen to be in New York and visit the Coney Island boardwalk, you may have walked over durable decking made of ipe. Ipe is a unique hardwood found in the forests of South and Central America. Ipe is one of the most durable decking materials available on the market and has excellent weather resistance. Aside from its ruggedness and durability, ipe is also beautiful. Many users prefer to seal their ends without staining or painting to enjoy ipe’s natural color and shade. Some swimming pool owners choose ipe as decking wood because of its low maintenance and non-slippery surface. Despite its density, ipe retains less heat, which helps it remain cool even under direct sunlight during summer. Its main drawback is its challenging workability. Its incredible toughness and density can blunt cutting blades and are challenging to glue together. However, many woodworkers will be satisfied with ipe's value and long-lasting qualities despite its challenges.


Exotics Woods in Los Angeles

The clear distinction between its golden-brown heartwood with its brilliantly-colored sapwood makes padauk ideal as live edge slabs for furniture and home decor. However, aside from its inherent beauty, padauk is durable and resistant to decay and termites. African padauk, also sometimes known as vermillion, has a unique reddish-orange tone with an exceptional quality called chatoyancy. Padauk has relatively easy workability because of its superior stability for tough exotic hardwood. Manual planing may present a few challenges. However, woodworkers can bring out its extraordinary natural luster with proper planing and smoothing. Padauk is a perfect woodworking exotic because of its versatility. From outdoor furniture, flooring, decking, and veneer to small-turned objects, padauk never disappoints.


Exotics Woods in Los Angeles

Another import from the forests of Central and West Africa is afromosia. Its yellowish-brown heartwood with a reddish hue and its outstanding durability and insect resistance makes it an ideal alternative to the more expensive teak. Afromosia is a dependable wood in Africa for building houses and boats and is known for its ease of workability, despite its durability and density. Though dense, it has superb water and weather resistance, making it excellent decking material. Assembling segments of afromosia pieces is easy because of its ideal gluing properties. However, it stains easily when in contact with iron when moist. Its primary drawback is its supply. Though relatively affordable among rare exotics, its availability and harvest are strictly controlled


 Exotic Woods in Los Angeles

Sapele is named after a city in Nigeria where wood is abundant. Sapele is an important export of Nigeria and is sustainably controlled at its source. Sapele wood is an excellent substitute for mahogany and shares some of its endearing features, such as its golden to dark reddish brown appearance. Though sapele doesn't share in mahogany's chatoyancy, it does share its natural luster and fine uniform texture. Though a versatile hardwood, sapele presents a few challenges to woodworkers because of its interlocking and, sometimes, wavy grains. Care should be taken when machining sapele because of possible tear-outs due to its grain structure. Direct contact with iron often results in discoloration and staining. Its toughness also blunts cutting blades slightly. However, sapele has excellent turning qualities. Sapele covers most of the same uses as mahogany. Sapele is a traditional boatbuilding material with excellent decay, insect, and water resistance.


Rosewood Los Angeles

Rosewood is a common name for several hardwood species in the Dalbergia genus. Rosewood species making it to our lumberyard usually include either Indian rosewood or Brazilian rosewood, though Santos rosewood may be available occasionally in our lumberyard. As for Rosewood qualities, we will discuss those of Brazilian rosewood in detail. The heartwood of Brazilian rosewood is tough and resistant to decay and insect attack. Brazilian rosewood is exceptionally beautiful with its dark contrasting streaks over an orange or reddish brown tone with a clear distinction between its heartwood and light-yellowish sapwood. Despite their perfect physical attributes, all rosewood species present challenges to woodworkers because of their density. However, Brazilian rosewood finishes excellently with a high natural luster once polished. Its beauty makes rosewood excellent as live edge slabs and pieces for fine furniture. 

For Exceptionally Exotic Hardwood Pieces, Call Us!

We share in the appreciation of fine woodworking. That is why we provide serious woodworkers with exotic species that are rarer to find and source. Each of these rare exotics makes excellent furniture pieces and is naturally tough for woodworking projects meant to last for generations. Aside from cutting hardwood lumber, some species may be available as live edge slabs and tops. Because of the challenges in supply, we recommend calling us at (323) 263-9361 for availability and price. To learn more about our hardwood lumber, visit our hardwood page. We also provide delivery and milling services to help woodworkers take home the ideal piece for their projects.