All About Wenge: A Worktop Express® Nutshell Guide
This tropical timber is very dark in colour – so much so that it looks almost black in some lights, and is often used as a substitute for ebony. It has a distinctive figure with dispersed lighter flecks throughout the wood. Wenge is truly the top of worktop tree and is highly desired in modern kitchens and for a variety of other uses. Back in 2010 we provided over 30 metres of this opulent hardwood to ‘Bea’s of Bloomsbury’ – a high end London tea room.
If you’re looking for a worktop in a black ® white kitchen, or something to contrast light coloured units in a contemporary kitchen design, then wenge is definitely the worktop to consider. To see some more examples of this timber up close, pop along to our worktop gallery.
TYPE OF WOOD AND GRAIN STRUCTURE
Black wenge is one of the heaviest and most solid hardwood worktops available, being 50% more dense than oak. Its black grain and dark brown wood is from the heartwood of the tree, where the sapwood contributes lighter flecks throughout the worktop; it has a straight grain and a very coarse texture.
Cells known as ‘vessel elements’ are one of the distinguishing features of hardwoods such as wenge. The cells are elongated in a linear fashion through the timber, and are considerably larger than surrounding cells, which is what can create a distinctive pattern. The grain has large pores with no specific arrangement and distinct growth rings. Because of the dark colouration of the wood, the grain appears to be a little more subtle than some other hardwoods -especially when oiled.
SOURCING AND MANUFACTURE
Hailing from mid to western Africa, wenge wood is mostly found in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.
In sourcing wood that is visually pleasing, resilient, we take essential necessary care to ensure that all the timber we purchase is legal, environmentally sound, and from the most sustainable supplies possible. Due to its African origin, wenge cannot be certified under either FSC or PEFC classifications. We’ve worked very closely with our suppliers to ensure that our African timbers have the required chain of custody and all evidence to support it.
We employ strict environmental policies and very stringent checks on our suppliers, to ensure that we are only dealing with dealers that promote environmentally aware policies and re-planting schemes. We only ever deal directly with suppliers, rather than using third-party agents; this has helped us build great relationships with the manufacturers and so we’re always fully aware of any supply shortages or problems that may occasionally arise. We also visit our suppliers every three months to ensure our high standards are adhered to.
At Worktop Express® we fabricate and deliver kitchen worktops to incredibly high standards, whilst being very good value for money – just compare our prices to any high-street retailer. Since our inception we’ve delivered over 200,000 worktops covering over 55,000 individual orders, and are now considered solid wood experts.
To find out more about these processes, visit our ’Sourcing and Manufacture’ information guide.
Though we also offer full stave worktops with a wider 90mm stave, our standard wenge kitchen worktops are constructed from staves averaging 40mm. We work closely with our European manufacturers to ensure that the chosen staves are of the highest quality, and that they’re also aesthetically consistent to give the worktop an attractive, unblemished finish that is free from defects.
The staves are joined together using a finger joint, which is by far the most elegant way of making up the worktop surface, whilst retaining the natural strength of the timber. A small amount of glue is also used to hold the finger joints together firmly in place throughout manufacture and any fabrication that might follow.
To find out more about how our worktops are constructed, visit our ’Construction Types Explained’ guide.
- Tree Size: 18 – 30m tall, 1-1.25 m trunk diameter
- Average Density: 855 kg/m3
- Average Dried Weight: 870 kg/m3
- Janka Hardness: 8600 N
- Modulus of Rupture (bending strength): 151.7 MPa
- Elastic Modulus (‘stiffness’ of wood): 17.59 GPa
For centuries, the native craftsmen of the Congolese rainforest have used wenge to craft masks and statues representing spirits and gods. Prior to mechanical methods, local craftsmen would ‘cut’ sections of downed trees by building controlled fires beneath it and burning though the log until they had manageable sections to take back to their village. Fire was also used in the shaping of the lumber to create large statues, as it would make the wood soft and easier to carve.Because of its density and strength, wenge has been used for a very wide range of uses over time beyond its current-day uses for furniture, veneers and of course worktops. Previous uses for the timber included railway sleepers, crates & boxes, mine props and even archery longbows. Like many other attractive hardwoods, wenge has been used for high-quality musical instruments such as guitars and drums.
Wenge was traditionally used in medicines, with varying applications of the bark being used to treat liver complaints, diabetes, hernias, skin diseases, constipation, fevers and rheumatism. Powdered bark has also been used to treat epilepsy, smallpox and sores. We’ll stick with worktops though, we think!
At Worktop Express® we keep over 5,000 worktops in stock at any one time, which enables us to deliver directly to both the public and trade swiftly and efficiently with our 2man delivery service. We’ve gone through great lengths to ensure that all of our worktops can be offered at the best possible price, with excellent customer service to match.
Our specially integrated online stock-ordering systems allow us reduce costs by minimising the quantity of dead stock and by keeping wastage low. What’s more, with our ‘direct-to-public’ e-commerce business model, we’ve been able to offer our solid wood worktops at a much lower price than any high-street retailer.
We make it a priority to visit our European suppliers at least once every three months ourselves – we don’t use any agents or third parties to make the trip for us. Because of this we’re able to see the product and manufacturing process first hand and ensure that the suppliers are adhering to our high standards. Throughout 2014 we are planning to expand further in to other European markets to firmly cement Worktop Express® as the leader in solid wood worktops across the whole of Europe.
With unmistakable black and dark brown hues, a wenge worktop is the ideal centre-piece for ultra-modern kitchens. Consider mixing wenge worktops with bright whites, yellows and oranges for a unique contemporary look; or for up-to-the-minute style, mix wenge with swathes of stainless steel.
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