Tambotie – African cocobolo

TAMBOTIE also called African Cocobolo and Sandalo in Mozambique.

This wood is one of the nine precious hardwoods of Mozambique.

Traditionally this wood has been used for furniture because it finishes well giving a shiny look. It also releases a strong long lasting pleasant smell.

When sawing or turning the wood mask and eye protection must be worn.

As it releases toxic latex it shouldn’t be used for as firewood or kitchen utensils or even in woodwind instruments taken to the mouth as it can develop severe allergic reaction.

The heartwood is heavy and closed grain and very durable. It offers attractive grain and unique design that found acceptance for guitar back and sides and bindings. The turners like it for pens and bigger applications like bowl and gun stock. 

This wood is not related to the Santalum album or Indian sandalwood that is endangered and protected in India and South-East Asia. Tambotie doesn’t have the same properties for the perfume industry.

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Botanical name Spirostachys africana
Family Euphorbiaceae
Local name Tambotie (ZA), Sandalo (MOZ)
English name African cocobolo
Distribution géographique North and East of South Africa, Mozambique, in Eastern Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.
The tree It grows in woodlands, on poor and acidic soil, where the specie is often dominant. Distinctive reddish flowers.
The wood It is brown and dark brown, sapwood is bright yellow. It is hard to very hard, specific weight 950 Kg / m3 when air dried. The wood releases a persistent, pleasant smell.
Seasoning Very slow, but shrinkage or distortion free.
Workability Works well on late and with chisel. Difficult to glue because of its oily sap. When freshly cut releases toxic latex. It is essential to protect eyes and nose when sawing and turning.
Use Manufacturing of furniture and curios. Good for carving, it polishes well and gives a shiny finish.