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Thread: Is Dalbergia latifolia suitable for bokken?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    Bali, Indonesia
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    181

    Is Dalbergia latifolia suitable for bokken?

    Hello Everyone,

    Someone offers to make me a bokken out of Dalbergia Latifolia. In Indonesia, where I live, the wood is called Sonokeling. According to Wikipedia it is also called Indian Rosewood or Bombay Blackwood.

    Could anyone please tell if this wood is suitable for bokken? Will it chip if used for traditional controlled sparring / two-men kata?
    Life is an STD and is 100% fatal. If we ever find the cure to it, then all other diseases are taken care of.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Western MA, USA
    Posts
    29
    Quote Originally Posted by Leo Song View Post
    Hello Everyone,

    Someone offers to make me a bokken out of Dalbergia Latifolia. In Indonesia, where I live, the wood is called Sonokeling. According to Wikipedia it is also called Indian Rosewood or Bombay Blackwood.

    Could anyone please tell if this wood is suitable for bokken? Will it chip if used for traditional controlled sparring / two-men kata?
    Hi Leo,

    I'm familiar with the Dalbergia family members cocobolo and kingwood — both are extremely hard and heavy woods that have a tendency to be somewhat brittle and chip. There is not enough interlocking between fibers to be able to recommend these woods for contact weapons. They will snap — in two pieces if you are lucky, and in many, many shards if you are not. And their weight would make them a poor choice against weapons of the normal density, even were they safe to use.

    Just a little Googling for Dalbergia latifolia in particular finds links like this. When looking for suitable woods for contact weapons, look first for those already in use for sporting equipment or tool handles. These tasks require similar shock resistance, crush resistance, and resilience to that which bokuto are required to withstand. You'll notice that D. latifolia is not recommended for either task.

    If you accept the offer to have bokuto made, I'm sure they will be lovely to handle and use for solo practice. But based on my experience with Dalbergia family relatives and the information on D. latifolia in particular, I could not recommend it for contact.

    Ellis Amdur is continuously adding to a page on wood for weapons. Check that out for woods that might be local for you.

    -Beth

    Beth's Buki
    Walk softly and carry a big stick.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Bali, Indonesia
    Posts
    181

    This??

    Many thanks for the reply, Beth. I visited the URL but got really curious about what they say about ULIN wood. I have plenty of it as leftover material after we finished building our home in Bali. This is definitely ulin as we know it in Indonesia.

    If I want to I can cut the cracky surface to find smooth wood inside. But I cannot imagine using this cracky wood, despite how strong it is ... Afterall it is cracky, right??? My workers say the wood will be cracky by itself after some time of exposure to nature.
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    Life is an STD and is 100% fatal. If we ever find the cure to it, then all other diseases are taken care of.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Western MA, USA
    Posts
    29
    Quote Originally Posted by Leo Song View Post
    Many thanks for the reply, Beth. I visited the URL but got really curious about what they say about ULIN wood. I have plenty of it as leftover material after we finished building our home in Bali. This is definitely ulin as we know it in Indonesia.

    If I want to I can cut the cracky surface to find smooth wood inside. But I cannot imagine using this cracky wood, despite how strong it is ... Afterall it is cracky, right??? My workers say the wood will be cracky by itself after some time of exposure to nature.
    Hi Leo,

    I would use the bottom two pieces to figure out how to cut away the bad parts of the wood. Those two are obviously checked and otherwise unsuitable for anything except small pieces.

    That top piece . . . I don't see any checking, as such. I see that it has been split off along grainlines. (In fact, it looks rather like a piece of Osage orange I have right now that I am waiting to get to a mill.) That one might have some good wood in it. You could cut the ends off to see, then paint over the ends until you are ready to do something with the wood. The paint (any regular household paint) would slow down any moisture loss.

    -Beth

    Beth's Buki
    Walk softly and carry a big stick.

  5. #5
    Ulin is definitely worth the experiment. I have used an ulin naginata, and it will never break, to be sure. It doesn't feel right, however, being far too heavy and rigid. It does not "work with" the hands.

    However, I've not tried it for a bokuto - a slender one might be great with this wood.
    Best
    Ellis Amdur
    Author: Books and DVD regarding martial arts, as well as on the verbal control and de-escalation of emotionally disturbed individuals
    www.edgework.info

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