Aucoumea klaineana, or Okoume, is a hardwood found exclusively in central African countries, primarily in Gabon and the equatorial region known as the Congo Basin. Okoume wood is mainly used as a solid lumber in many parts of Europe and for veneering and plywood in the US. in the native country of Gabon, it is the primary source of commercial timber.
Here’s everything you need to know about Okoume wood properties, pros & cons, and uses.
About Okoume Wood
Other Names: Gabon wood, Acoume, Zouga
Scientific Name: Aucoumea klaineana
Okoume trees grow in central Africa. These are fast-growing trees and can go up to a height of 100-130 ft (30-40 m). The average trunk diameter is 3-6 ft (1-1.8 m).
Okoume is not a very heavy wood and the average dried weight is around 430 kg/m3. It is also not very hard and has a 400 lbf Janka score.
Okoume used to be available easily in the natural range of central Africa, however, it was recently added to the IUCN Red List due to overexploitation over the last few decades. It is often used as a less expensive alternative to other hardwoods for domestic and commercial uses, furniture, etc.
Okoume Wood Properties
Colour: The heartwood colour is a pale pinkish or light brown-red and gets darker with age or due to long exposure to sun and air. The sapwood is light-coloured but not clearly distinguishable from the heartwood. Okoume wood is not easy to identify only by its colour.
Texture: Okoume wood grain can be straight or wavy and interlocked. It has a medium texture. There is no oil or resin present in the wood and it has no characteristic odour.
Durability: Okoume is a non-durable wood. It cannot withstand heavy pressure like flooring in a high-traffic area. It is also not resistant to moisture and weather conditions naturally and is prone to attack by insects. However, it is often finished with oil and other treatments to protect from weather elements. Because of its reputation for being extremely soft, Okoume is not considered appropriate for use in applications requiring high strength or durability, such as flooring.
Workability: It is generally easy to work with. However, the presence of silica can cause blunting of cutters. Tearout may happen during planing or shaping. It glues and finishes well. It nails well but may not be able to hold screws. It cannot be bent with steam. Okoume is widely used as plywood and veneer because it peels and slices easily and uniformly.
Availability & Price: Okoume wood is primarily sold and used as a veneer and is mainly sourced from origin countries in central Africa. In the UK, you can buy Okoume lumber or veneer at a moderate price (imported from Africa). Contact us to know more.
Okoume Wood Pros & Cons
Though Okoume is not naturally durable in terms of moisture resistance, it can be made suitable for marine and exterior applications by applying certain oil treatments. It is also less expensive than many other hardwoods and can be found in all parts of the world. Here, take a look at some of the pros and cons of Okoume wood.
- Strong wood with good workability
- It finishes, stains, and paints well
- It is less expensive than other hardwoods
- Okoume wood needs little maintenance
- The brown-reddish appearance of Okoume gets darker and more beautiful with age
- It is easy to bend or curve and can be cut in a variety of shapes
- Okoume comes in a variety of sizes in terms of length and thickness, making it easy to find the perfect wood size for your next project
- Can cause a blunting effect on cutters due to high silica content
- Doesn’t respond well to steam bending
- Not easy to screw or nail
- Too soft to be used as large pieces. Large boards or panels might bend if used without support
- Untreated Okoume is not resistant to insects and decay
Uses of Okoume wood
Okoume wood is globally used as veneers and plywood. The plywood made of Okoume is considered very strong and durable due to its high strength-to-weight ratio. In the UK, Okoume plywood is rated as marine plywood under the BS-1088 British Standard. In the US, it is primarily used as veneer. In its native regions (central Africa, Gabon, and equatorial Guinea), Okoume is used mainly as solid lumber.
Common uses of Okoume wood include veneer, lumber, plywood, boatbuilding, furniture, interior millwork, and musical instruments.
Okoume is primarily sold and used as plywood. To construct the plywood of Okoume, pine or poplar is often used as the core material to enhance the strength and durability of the product.
Okoume plywood is suitable for use in many applications, both interior and exterior. Some of its top applications include furniture, cabinets, interior millwork, boatbuilding, decking, etc.
Veneer is a thin slice or layer of wood that is obtained by peeling or slicing large pieces of wood. Okoume is largely sold as veneer, which is further used for making boards, plywood, panels for doors, furniture and much more.
The majority of Okoume sold outside of its native habitat (central Africa) is used as veneer or plywood. Where it grows locally, solid Okoume timber is utilised in woodworking and furniture construction. The veneer and plywood are the principal types of imports into the United States, intended for use in hollow-core doors, ornamental panelling, and furniture. As a tropical hardwood, Okoume is used to produce external plywood that satisfies the requirements of British Standard 1088 for use in water applications such as boatbuilding in the UK and other parts of Europe.
3. Furniture and Musical Instrumentsoko
Okoume plywood has a beautiful appearance and is quite strong. It is therefore ideal for hollow-core doors, decorative wood panelling, kitchen cabinets, and other furniture components. Okoume is widely used for making acoustic guitars due to its lighter weight and robust tones, though it is not as good as mahogany.
4. Boatbuilding and Marine Applications
Okoume is not naturally resistant to water, but it can be painted or sealed to protect it from moisture. Moreover, the bending properties of Okoume make it suitable for marine applications such as making boats, kayaks, racing boats, canoes, and ship parts.
The best wood to use when creating a kayak boat is Okoume Marine Plywood. Okoume plywood provides folding characteristics in addition to being sturdy, light, and water-resistant (sealed or painted wood). Kayak boats, hydroplanes, canoes, sailboats, racing boats, hull components, and many other boat parts are made using Okoume wood.
Other nautical uses of Okoume wood that need the exterior surfaces to be exposed to water or moisture for an extended period of time include the construction of escape hatches (small doors) in an aeroplane or spaceship.
5. Components for Decking
For the construction of hardwood decks, where moisture resistance and low weight are essential factors, Okoume plywood has proven to be incredibly effective. Moreover, it offers moderate durability, allowing for several decades of use with little upkeep. Remember that Okoume is not suitable for indoor flooring because it is not very strong and cannot withstand a lot of weight. It is a rather soft or less dense wood. Red oak and other species that are substantially harder are frequently required for wood floors.
Where to Buy Genuine Okoume Wood Online?
It is not easy to identify authentic Okoume wood from fake ones, which is why it’s recommended to always buy your plywood or lumber from a trusted manufacturer like White Knight Consulting Ltd.
We are a well-known and experienced wood supplier and manufacturer based in the UK. We have Okoume wood, plywood and veneer available in various sizes, which you can order online for doorstep delivery all over the world. We ship our wood to many countries, including Canada, Australia, Germany, UAE, South Africa, Turkey, Vietnam, Poland and many more. Contact us for the best price for Okoume plywood.