The Hymenaea courbaril genus consists of about 25 species that occur through Central America, southern Mexico, northern South America, and in the West Indies. This species is commonly referred to as Jatoba in Brazil. Other names for the woods in this family include West Indian locust, jutaby, alga, algarrobo, copal, jatai vermelho, and others. The tree normally grows from 100’-130’ tall, with a 2’-4’ diameter trunk.
This wood is commonly used for wood flooring, furniture, cabinetry, tool handles, boatbuilding, turnery, railroad ties, decorative veneers, and more.
The sapwood can be white, grey to yellow or pink, and is clearly demarcated from the heartwood. The heartwood varies from salmon-red to light orange-brown to a darker russet or reddish-brown. Dark, contrasting streaks are often present. The colors tend to darken over time, especially with exposure to light.
Diffuse-porous. The grain is mostly interlocked, medium to coarse texture with a good natural luster.
Average once properly dried. These woods must be dried slowly to prevent degradation, and have shown slight movement in use. Longer acclimation times may be necessary. Jatoba has a dimensional stability factor of 4.5 percent (radial) and 8.5 percent (tangential), meaning this species may shrink/swell up to 8.5 percent of its given width, depending on how it’s cut, when going from green (30 percent MC) to oven-dried.
DIMENSIONAL CHANGE COEFFICIENT
Averages = .00300 (tangential)
Averages = .91
The hardness of this species makes it difficult to drive a fastener through. The air compressor PSI will need to be adjusted to avoid tongue splitting, and to ensure adequate seating in the nailing pocket. Use of 18 gauge cleats work best when nailing this wood.
Jatoba is a very hard and very dense wood, and requires extra caution with grit progression. Do not skip grits when sanding this wood. The final pass using a hard-plate, a multi-head, or oscillating sander is normally done with a higher grit abrasive than with other species, in an effort to minimize visible scratch patterns. This wood stains and finishes very nicely. Finishes and stains often require extended dry-times on this species. Occasionally, white spots or specks that were not noticeable before finishing may become apparent once the floor is coated, or after the floor has aged. These spots are calcium carbonate and are a naturally occurring part of the species.
Jatoba is not listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) appendices, or on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and is reported by the IUCN as a species of least concern.