KATALOX (Mexican Ebony)

Scientific Name: Swartzia cubensis
Also known as: Mexican Royal Ebony; Wamara; Bannia; Catalox; Katalosh
Status: RARE
Origin: Southern Mexico, Central America
Traditional Uses: Instruments; Fine Furniture; Cabinetry; Tables; Turnery; Gunstocks; Knife Scales; Billiard Cues


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Katalox-prKatalox is an extremely dense tonewood that is gaining popularity in the luthier market. The heartwood ranges from violet to deep purple which can darken to near black with age. The sapwood compliments this color tone with a creamy golden hue, and when worked into a project it provides a wonderfully vivid contrast to the rich heartwood.

The USDA ranks Katalox in several publications as a suitable substitute to African Gabon Ebony for stringed instruments. Katalox is known to have a moderate blunting effect on planing knives and other cutters due to the high density. Gluing can also be troublesome due to this density. Katalox is a wonderful turning candidate due extremely fine pores and texture. Katalox is also a choice timber by locals in the Yucatan for tables, chairs and other fine furniture due to its durability and aesthetic attributes. The signature color tone of rotating purplish black with light sapwood can be found through out the Costa Maya when visiting establishments.

Tone Qualities:
Katalox is well known to luthiers who are looking to construct quality guitars and is used extensively by Martin Guitars for fingerboards and bridges. It is also starting to develop recognition for quality backs and sides. Tonality for Katalox is said to mimic traditional attributes of ebony, along with excellent sustain.

Specific Gravity: 0.94
Hardness: 3690 Janka
Density: 73 pcf
Tangential Movement: 7.6%
Radial Movement: 3.9%
Volumetric Shrinkage: 11.2%
Durability: Excellent

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Fine Examples of Katalox Creations: Note: links may take you to 3rd party Websites