This section shows and describes various wood varieties used in the making of puzzles.

Limited editions of many Interlocking and Assembly puzzles are made from common and exotic hardwoods, by skilled woodworkers having an interest in puzzles. If you are a craftsman starting out making puzzles from wood, or if you are a collector ordering a fine puzzle and specifying your choice(s) of wood(s), you may find this section helpful.

Wood, and the tools and products used to shape it, join it, and finish it, are readily available and usually not too expensive. A person can learn woodworking skills with a reasonable investment of time and dedication. This is in contrast to other materials and technologies for making intricately-shaped pieces and constructions - such as molding or casting plastic or metal, 3-D printing, or lathe-work. Such alternatives are not as approachable, and usually cost more.

It is difficult to truly capture the qualities of a piece of wood in a photograph, and often the color or the texture don't come across well. I've chosen photos I've found on the web which, to my eyes at least, accurately match the woods in various puzzles I own. No two pieces of wood are exactly alike, and you should expect that any material you receive will differ in some way from what is shown here. And, of course, the wood may look very different depending on the finish employed. French Polish is a particularly nice finish.

The "Secondary Woods" category contains woods that I think don't make very good puzzles.

For more information on woods, definitely see:

Where I have been able to find it, I have given the dry density in kg/m3. Also provided is a link to the page at Paul Hinds' site, [ph].


Gabon Ebony - Diospyros crassiflora
1030 [ph]

Ebony (Indian) - Diospyros ebenum

Macassar Ebony - Diospyros celebica, Diospyrus macassar
1090 [ph]

African Blackwood (Mpingo) - Dalbergia melanoxylon
1250 [ph]

Wenge - Millettia laurentii
865 [ph]

Black Limba (Korina) - Terminalia superba
White and Black Limba come from the same tree.
545 [ph]

Tasmanian (aka Australian) Blackwood - Acacia melanoxylon
640 [ph]

Black Walnut - Jaglans nigra
641 [ph]

Ziricote - Cordia dodecandra
897 [ph]

Blue Mahoe - Hibiscus elatus
753 [ph]

Maple (Eastern Hard, Sugar) - Acer saccharinum, Acer saccharum
705 [ph]

Bird's Eye Maple

Curly Maple

Spalted Maple

Quilted Maple - Acer macrophyllem
545 [ph]

Holly - Ilex spp., Ilex opaca

Light Beech - Fagus sylvatica
689 [ph]

Baltic Birch Plywood
European Silver Birch - Betula pendula 657
American Birch - Betula alleghaniensis 689 [ph]

Gum (Sugar, Sweet, or Red) Australia - Liquidambar styraciflua
561 [ph]

Queensland Silver Ash - Australia
American Ash - Fraxinus americana 689 [ph]

Magnolia (Japanese "Ho" wood)

Yellowheart (Pau Amarello) - Euxylophora paraensis

Osage Orange - Maclura pomifera
897 [ph]

As beautiful as these woods are, and as tempting as it may be to display puzzles made from them, most if not all of them will fade to brown after prolonged exposure to daylight. So if you want the woods to retain their rich colors, you must store puzzles made from these woods away from light! In particular, Redheart (Chakte Kok), Padauk, Canarywood, and Jarrah all lose their red coloring. Bloodwood holds its color the best of the red-colored woods.

Padauk (Amboyna) - Pterocarpus soyauxii, Pterocarpus indicus
737 [ph]

Bloodwood - Brosimum paraense
641 [ph]

Jarrah - Eucalyptus marginata, of western Australia.
865 [ph]

Redheart (Chakte Kok) - Simira (or Sickingia) salvadorensis, Cosmocalyx spectabilis, Simira spp., Erythroxylon spp.
PH says Redheart and Chakte Kok are not the same
641 [ph]

Massaranduba (Brazilian Redwood, Bulletwood, Beefwood) - Manilkara huberi, Manilkara bidentata, Manilkara Elata
1057 [ph]

Purpleheart (Amaranth) - Peltogyne sp.
833 [ph]

Kingwood - Dalbergia Cearensis

Cocobolo (Palisander) - Dalbergia retusa
1105 [ph]

Tulipwood (Bois de Rose) - Dalbergia frutenscens, Dalbergia decipularis
961 [ph]

Canarywood - Centrolobium microchaete
961 [ph]

Bocote - Cordia elaeagnoides
641 [ph]

Zebrawood (Zebrano) - Microberlinia brazzavillensis
849 [ph]

Leopardwood - Panopsis rubellens, Flindersia maculosa
960 [ph]

Lacewood - Roupala brasiliensis
529 [ph]

Goncalo Alves (Tigerwood, Brazilian Koa) - Astronium fraxinifolium
993 [ph]

Pau Ferro - Machaerium scleroxylon
Morado [ph], Bolivian Rosewood, Santos Rosewood [ph]

Granadillo (Mexican Rosewood) - Dalbergia Granadillo, Platymiscium pinnatum, Platymiscium ulei, Coyote - Platymiscium polystachyum
1025 [ph]

Rosewood ( Bolivian - Machaerium schleroxylon, Brazilian - Dalbergia nigra, Honduran - Dalbergia Stevensonii, Indian, Madagascar - Dalbergia greveana 561 )

Snakewood (Letterwood) - Piratinera guianensis, Marmaroxylon racemosum
1025 [ph]

Mahogany (African - Khaya ivorensis, Cuban, Honduran - Swietenia macrophylla)

Bubinga - Guibourtia demeusei, Guibourtia tessmannii

Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry, South American Locust) - Hymenaea courbaril
913 [ph]

Walnut (American)

English Brown Oak - Quercus petraea, Quercus robur 689 [ph]

Cherry (Black) - Prunus serotina
(Black - Prunus serotina, Red - Prunus pennsylvanica, Wild - Prunus avium)
577 [ph]

Makore (African Cherry) - Tieghemella spp.


Narra - Pterocarpus indicus
641 [ph]

Ipe - Tabebuia guayacan Ipe is grey to brown in color with almost no grain pattern and is more than twice as strong as oak.

As far as I know, there is no truly green-colored hardwood. However, you can usually find gray-green tinged samples of the woods listed here.

Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum wood) - Guaiacum officinale
1266, 1301

Vera - Bulnesia arborea
Same family as Lignum Vitae but diff. genus. Gets more green over time!

Robinia (Black Locust, False Acacia) - Robinia pseudoacacia (Fabaceae)
(See Oskar's 2-piece packing from Puzzlewood.de.)

East Indian Rosewood - Dalbergia Latifolia
849 [ph]

Avodire, African - Turraenanthus africanus

Greenheart (Sipiroe, sipiri, bebeeru, bibiru) - Ocotea radiaei, Ocotea Rodial, Chlorocardium rodiei
Dense, indigenous to Guyana and Venezuela. Heartwood dark black to olive green. Extremely durable, used as pilings.
1030 [ph] [more]

Sumac (Staghorn) - Rhus typhina, see also Smoothbark - Rhus glabra
[ph] [wiki]

These woods are inferior choices as puzzle materials, for various reasons - either they are unstable, or they have a rough surface texture, or they are difficult to glue. Monkey Pod has to be the worst - there has been a flood of cheap puzzles made from this wood. Unfortunately, while Monkey Pod can be nicely finished, these cheap puzzles are not nicely finished and usually warp, which can be disastrous for a packing, assembly, or interlocking puzzle. Teak is a nice wood for many purposes, but it is difficult to glue and I don't see many fine puzzles made using Teak.

Likewise, the other woods here can be nicely finished, but often they're not - and I don't like getting splinters when I play with a puzzle.

Your experiences may vary.

Monkey Pod (Rain Tree)- Samanea saman

Red Oak - Quercus rubra
extremely porous
689 [ph]

White Oak - Quercus alba
among least porous
750 [ph]

Red Palm

Black Palm

Teak - Tectona grandis
641 [ph]