Chakte Viga

Geographic Distribution:

The wood commonly known as Chakte Viga is known to botanists and other scientists as Coulteria platyloba.  Some source may list the genus as Caesalpinia and this is a known synonym.

C. platyloba native to the tropical areas of southern Mexico and through Central America.

For the sake of simplicity and common understanding, I will refer to Chakte Viga from here forward.

General Characteristics:

Chakte Viga heartwood ranges widely in color from a bright orange to a golden brown.  The sapwood is a pale white to yellow color.

In general, the grain of Chakte Viga is straight, although interlocked grain has been reported occasionally.

Chakte Viga has a fine and even texture with a good natural luster.

Chakte Viga is highly resistant to rot.  Chakte Viga has been used as a fence-post material with reports stating that the wood lasts up to 100 years in the ground.

Working Characteristics:

Despite its high density, Chakte Viga generally responds well to most machining operations, though interlocked grain can result in tearout during planing.

Chakte Viga turns, glues, and finishes well.

Chakte Viga has not characteristic odor when freshly cut.

Pricing and Availability:

Larger pieces of Chakte Viga in lumber form can be hard to find, but smaller pieces for turning projects are more readily available. Prices tend to be quite high for this imported species.

In this blog, I almost always recommend several vendors with whom I have done considerable business and in whom I have great confidence.  These vendors are: West Penn Hardwoods, Bell Forest Products, NC Wood, WoodTurningz, Amazon Exotic Hardwoods, Griffin Exotic Wood, Exotic Woods USA, Got Wood?, and Wood Turning Blanks 4U.

Of my favored vendors, West Penn Hardwoods, Bell Forest Products, NC Wood, and WoodTurningz are all offering Chakte Viga in both spindle and bowl blank formats.  The best price is on a 6″ x 6″ x 2″for $13.80 at West Penn Hardwoods which is currently running a sale.

Woodfinder is an excellent website that is dedicated to advertising wood dealers.  In your search for Chakte Viga this can be an invaluable resource provided you use multiple search terms to capture all the possible listings.  I can’t speak to the quality of any of the listed dealers, but Woodfinder does have the advantage of allowing searches to be performed based on location which might allow an interested buyer to visit a listed wood dealer in person to hand pick pieces at a comfortable price.

A significant problem with using Woodfinder is that many vendors are listed for woods that, upon further investigation, they do not offer.  I don’t know if perhaps once they did and they didn’t update their listings or if some vendors use a standardized list of woods that include most everything conceivable with the idea that once you land on their page you will find something you want to buy even if you didn’t know it beforehand.  It happens to me all the time!

Common Uses:

Chakte Viga is commonly used to make inlays, furniture, flooring, and turned objects.


Chakte Viga is not listed in the CITES Appendices nor is it on the IUCN Red List.

To the best of my knowledge, the United States government does not place any additional restrictions on Chakte Viga.

I realize that inherent in working with wood is the killing of a part of the natural world that may be slow to return and if I become deeply concerned about this fact, I will have to find a new hobby.  I hope that such a time does not come to pass or at least not any time soon.  In part because I am concerned about legally and responsibly obtained wood, I am reluctant to buy from sellers outside of well-established and known vendors.  I am highly unlikely, for example, to purchase any wood from auction sites, such as Ebay, because of uncertain sourcing and documentation, as well as the potential, even likelihood, of material being misidentified in order to achieve a higher selling price.