Jatoba Wood : A Guide to its Properties, and Practical Uses

jatoba wood properties and uses

With a Janka rating of 2,690 lbf, Jatoba wood is one of the hardest woods in the world. It’s a hardwood found primarily in Central America, the West Indies, southern Mexico, and northern South America.

Jatoba, also called Brazilian Cherry for its similar looks, is a hard and heavy wood with remarkable durability in terms of resistance to rot and termites. It is, however, difficult to work with owing to its high density. It is mainly used for furniture, flooring, tool handles, cabinetry, and shipbuilding.

Here’s everything you need to know about Jatoba hardwood’s physical properties and uses.

What Is Jatoba Wood?

Jatoba wood, also known as Brazilian cherry wood, is a type of hardwood obtained from the species Hymenaea courbaril, which is native to South and Central America among other parts of the world. Jatoba wood is a popular choice for various woodworking applications due to its attractive appearance, durability, and strength.

Jatoba wood is known for its excellent hardness and natural resistance to wear, insects and rot, which make it suitable for flooring, furniture, and cabinetry, as well as outdoor applications such as boatbuilding. It is also commonly used in applications that require a durable and attractive wood.

Despite its high popularity and demand, Jatoba wood is readily available and is usually inexpensive compared to other more popular hardwoods. Let’s take a look at Jatoba wood’s physical characteristics.

Jatoba Wood Properties

Having an idea of the physical properties of Jatoba would make it easy for you to identify the wood and/or determine whether it is the right wood type for your next project. Here you go.

Technical Characteristics of Jatoba Wood:

  • Average Dried Weight: 57 lbs/ft3 (910 kg/m3)
  • Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .77, .91
  • Janka Hardness: 2,690 lbf (11,950 N)
  • Modulus of Rupture: 22,510 lbf/in2 (155.2 MPa)
  • Elastic Modulus: 2,745,000 lbf/in2 (18.93 GPa)
  • Crushing Strength: 11,780 lbf/in2 (81.2 MPa)
  • Shrinkage: Radial: 4.2%, Tangential: 8.0%, Volumetric: 12.1%, T/R Ratio: 1.9

Hymenaea Courbaril Tree

Jatoba wood is obtained from a tree called Hymenaea courbaril or West Indian locust. The tree’s height is about 100-130 ft (30-40 m) and the average trunk diameter is 2-4 ft (.6-1.2 m).


The Brazilian cherry’s hardwood colour typically ranges from light orangish or reddish-brown to darker red and the surface sometimes has darker streaks. The heartwood colour becomes darker upon exposure to light. The sapwood is light-coloured, typically greyish-yellow and easily identifiable from the heartwood.

Jatoba wood has a medium to coarse texture, and its grain is usually interlocked, which can sometimes result in a striped or wavy pattern. Jatoba wood often exhibits a high natural lustre, especially when polished.

The end grain, when looked closely, has very few but large pores.

Hardness & Strength

Jatoba is amongst the hardest woods in the world having a hardness (Janka) rating similar to the likes of Marblewood and Amazon Rosewood. It is exceptionally strong and stiff. The average density of Jatoba is about 14g/cm³, which makes it one of the best options for heavy construction work such as flooring and furniture making.

Durability & Resistance

Jatoba wood is a blessing for woodworkers looking for a strong and durable wood that is naturally resistant to many types of insects and rot and is also inexpensive.

Jatoba is rated as extremely durable. It is resistant to most insects, including termites. However, it can be prone to attack from marine borers. It is also resistant to moisture and can withstand extreme weather conditions without rotting.


Jatoba wood can be difficult to work with due to its high density and hardness. The interlocked grain of this wood can have a blunting effect on cutters and usually results in tear-outs when planing.

Jatoba, however, is easy to bend using steam bending and it also glues, finishes, stains, and turns really well.

Availability & Price of Jatoba Wood

a href=”https://cameroontimberexport.com/product/jatoba-timber/”>Jatoba timber is easily and widely available at inexpensive prices. It is imported into the UK from its native places and is moderately priced, which makes it a wonderful choice for woodworkers looking for hard and strong wood on a budget. It’s available in various sizes, including large flooring planks.

Jatoba is not on the list of threatened species, however, purchasing from an authorised supplier is recommended for sustainability concerns.

Uses of Jatoba Wood

Jatoba is a versatile wood and is considered suitable for use in a wide range of applications across construction, furniture, flooring, cabinetry, tool handles, decorative, and more.

Flooring: Jatoba wood is extremely durable and resistant to wear and tear, which makes it suitable for heavy-duty applications, especially flooring for both residential and commercial premises. It can also be used for flooring in kitchens and bathrooms as it is resistant to moisture and the colour or quality will not fade even with constant exposure to water.

Outdoor: Jatoba wood is resistant to termites and moisture and will not decay for years even when left outside. It is commonly used in outdoor applications, such as decking, fencing, and outdoor furniture. It is also used for building parts of ships and boats.

Furniture: As a beautiful hardwood with a stunning dark brownish-red hue and attractive grain patterns, Jatoba makes a wonderful choice for making a variety of furniture items for both indoor and outdoor use. The high strength and durability of Jatoba make it perfect for practically any kind of furniture, including heavy-duty items such as bed frames and tables. It is also commonly used for making outdoor furniture. Jatoba is also used for making kitchen furniture because it is resistant to moisture.

Cabinetry: Due to its attractive appearance and high strength, Jatoba is also an ideal choice for making cabinets, wardrobes, and wooden shelves. Jatoba cabinets are strong and sturdy and resistant to moisture and insects and will last many years without a lot of maintenance.

Construction: As a strong and dense wood, Jatoba is considered a good choice for heavy construction applications, especially outdoor uses such as building decks, fencing, docks, etc. where it might be exposed to moisture and heat. The wood can withstand moisture and heat and will also not lose its colour but can get darker when exposed to light over time. Due to its natural resistance to decay, Jatoba is also commonly used in docks.

Musical Instruments: The hard and durable jatoba wood is used for making fretboards for guitars and also other body parts for many popular musical instruments.

Other than the above, Jatoba wood is also used for making tool handles and other turned items such as bowls, vases, etc., decorative products, and small specialty items.