Pictured are examples of Bloodwood, scientifically known as Brosimum paraense, Brosimum rubescens and Brosimum lanciferum.  There are at least 13 other species of Brosimum known to exist.  All of these species are native to the tropical regions of North America, extending roughly from a northern terminus in the far southern reaches of Mexico through to the Amazon basin of central South America.  Bloodwood comes from these various species of Brosimum and grows in Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Panama, French Guiana, Colombia, Guyana, and Suriname.  Most of the Bloodwood sold in the United States originates in Brazil, Suriname, and/or Guyana.

While I have written about Bloodwood in the past, this post is considerably more detailed and informative.


General Characteristics of Bloodwood

Bloodwood is not a common tropical wood in the United States marketplace or workshops, but those who are experienced with it appreciate the vibrant color of the heartwood.  Unlike some similarly colored species, Bloodwood tends to retain its color over time, in some cases even deepening with oxidation instead of fading.  Protection from ultraviolet light will help keep the color true.  Some heartwood may feature ribbon stripes of deeper red, yellow, or even green.  Unlike the colorful heartwood, the sapwood is a pale yellow and there is a clear demarcation line between the heart and the sapwood of a felled tree.

Bloodwood demonstrates a fine grain texture, which is usually straight or only slightly wavy, with small pores.  The wood is extremely dense and will blunt cutters, however it turns beautifully with long ribbons of fine cuttings from a sharp tool.  This density renders the wood relatively impervious to most insect attack.

Some find it difficult to sand, but it my experience, once turned carefully with a sharp edge, it sands beautifully to a smooth finish.  The wood is easy to glue.  Some find the wood to be brittle and prone to breakage, although I have never experienced this problem.  Some have reported that bloodwood has a mild scent when being worked, but I have never detected it, and its smell is certainly is not as pronounced as that of some other common tropical woods.

Pseudonyms for Bloodwood

Bloodwood may be sold under a wide variety of other names including, but certainly not limited to: satine urbane, satinholz, ferolia, legno satino, satinwood, muirapiranga, amapa rana, pau rainha, conduru, brazilwood, and falso pao Brasil.

Hazards and Warnings for Working with Bloodwood

Unfortunately, the dust from sanding and working Bloodwood has been reported to cause ill effects including extreme thirst and salivation, occasionally accompanied by nausea.  Personally, I have not experienced any such problems, but individuals with existing respiratory difficulties, or who have experienced other wood allergies in the past should use protective measures such as full body coverings and respirators when dust is likely to be generated.  A good source of guidance about possible allergic reactions to wood can be found at The Wood Database, which also offers information about protection from dust hazards.

Uses of Bloodwood

The dense scarlet heartwood is used for decorative woodworking including items such as knife handles, trim and accents, along with inlay among other uses for small pieces of wood.  The heartwood is also popular for small turned items such as these bottle stoppers and/or pens and pencils.

Pricing of Bloodwood

Though it is considered an exotic tropical hardwood, Bloodwood’s price is fairly moderate. It should be cheaper than most rosewoods, but cost slightly more than other colorful imports like Padauk or Purpleheart.  Pen blanks can be easily purchased from wood dealers for between $1.50 – $3.00 while large bowl blanks measuring up to 8”x8”x3” can be purchased for under $30 from West Penn Hardwoods and other dealers may have similar pieces for sale for various, but presumably similar, pricing.

My Experience of Bloodwood

My overall experience with Bloodwood has been positive and I have never experienced any difficulties with turning or finishing the wood.  I continue to enjoy working with it and have a deep fondness for the beauty of the wood and use it whenever possible in small projects.  I would very much like to work with a bowl sized blank of this wood the opportunity has not yet presented itself, but hopefully it will in the near future as I maintain several bowl blanks sizes of Bloodwood seasoning in the shop for turning when more thoroughly dried.