Uses: Owing to Lignum Vitae's self-lubricating properties it is used for ship’s propeller bushes and bearings, marine equipment, thrust bearings, pulley sheaves, wheels, guides, rollers and blocks, mallet heads, “woods” for bowls, cotton gins, dead eyes, die cutting and turning, and for any purpose where lubrication is impractical or unreliable.
General Description: Lignum Vitae is one of the hardest and heaviest commercial timbers. The heartwood colour is dark greenish-brown to almost black. The grain is heavily interlocked and irregular and the texture fine and uniform. The weight varies from 1150-1300 kg/m³ (72-82 lb/ft³) averages 1230 kg/m³ (77 lb/ft³); specific gravity 1.23. It has a characteristic oily feel due to its guaiac resin content that constitutes 25% of its air dry weight.
This exceptionally dense and heavy wood has very high crushing strength and resistance to shock loads and outstanding strength properties, particularly hardness. Straight grained material has a resistance to slitting in the radial plane but splits easily in the tangential plane. However as most material is severely interlocked and of irregular grain this is not usually a problem.
Refractory in drying; logs are liable to check and become ring shaken at the ends in strong sun. End coating is recommended to reduce this form of degrade. There is medium movement in service.
Logs liable to attack by forest longhorn beetle. Very durable and extremely resistant to preservative treatment.
Family Name: Zygophyllaceae
Latin Name: Guaiacum officinale
Distribution: The West Indies and Tropical America
Also known as: Guayacan (Spanish); bois de gaiac (France); guayacan negro, palo santo (Cuba); ironwood (USA).