Exotic Hardwood for Turners

High-quality hardwood for turning

ProSono is a leading supplier of exotic and rare woods for turners. We also work closely with importers and distributors of exotic woods, across all five continents.

We offer pen blanks, turning squares, spindles and bowl blanks in a range of beautiful African hardwoods. See the tables below for the dimensions of parts we endeavour to keep in stock.

The precious hardwoods we supply are responsibly harvested, seasoned, and cut to standard dimensions.

Our turners’ wood is of prime quality, with no open or large knots, discolouration or slits and cracks. Our parts are sawn with panel saws that provide high precision. Also, both ends of each part are sealed with quality wax (without bubbles), to guarantee the absence of end cracks.

Up to 15% of sapwood and bird eye knots are allowed. In practice, this adds to the distinctive nature of individual parts.

Sometimes, what would count as a defect in a musical part is exactly what adds unique character and appeal to a turned item. However, our hardwood for turners is of sufficient quality that a number of our customers have in fact used it successfully for instrument making.

“This wood is absolutely beautiful, and it’s good to have taken a good number of it. Indeed, the shade a little variable and that leaves a nice choice for tinkering! I can thus mix for my friends. There is a “wavy” piece, what a wonder! Perfect for everything, a purchase that I really don’t regret at all. I will recommend you.”

~ Christophe PICOD, Turner

Turning squares dimensions


in inches in mm in dm3 Common turnery items
3/4 x 3/4 x 6 20 x 20 x 152 0.062 Fountain pens, pegs violin, viola, furniture inlays
1 x 1 x 6 26 x 26 x 150 0.098 Chess figures
1 x 1 x 12 26 x 26 x 305 0.197 Rulers, Inlays, Weaving needles
11/2 x 11/2 x 3 38 x 38 x 75 0.108 Solid cutlery handle, pegs for viola and cello, chess pawn
11/2 x 11/2 x 6 38 x 38 x 150 0.217 Candle sticks, daggers
11/2 x 11/2 x 12 38 x 38 x 310 0.442 Church candle holders
11/2 x 11/2 x 15 38 x 38 x 385 0.556 *Chanters
11/2 x 11/2 x 16 38 x 38 x 410 0.590 Lamp foot
11/2 x 11/2 x 18 38 x 38 x 457 0.660 US billiard cues
11/2 x 11/2 x 24 38 x 38 x 610 0.881 Russian billiard cues, picture frames
2 x 2 x 4 51 x 51 x 100 0.262 Doorknobs, serviette rings, pegs double bass
2 x 2 x 6 51 x 51 x 150 0.393 Door handles, mid-size pepper mills
2 x 2 x 8 51 x 51 x 205 0.513 Chess figures
2 x 2 x 12 51 x 51 x 310 0.775 Lamp stands
2 x 2 x 18 51 x 51 x 457 1.143 Lamp stands
3 x 3 x 12 76 x 76 x 300 1.770 Stool legs
3 x 3 x 18 76 x 76 x 457 2.640 Table legs, pepper mills
4 x 4 x 12 100 x 100 x 300 3.150 Large pepper mills
4 x 4 x 18 100 x 100 x 457 4.57 Table legs

Bowl blanks dimensions


in inches in mm in dm3 Common turnery items
4 x 4 x 2 100 x 100 x 50 0.500 Coasters
5 x 5 x 2 125 x 125 x 50 0.819 Coasters
5 x 5 x 3 125 x 125 x 75 1.229 Salad bowls
6 x 6 x 2 150 x 150 x 50 1.180 Salad bowls, lamp foot
6 x 6 x 3 150 x 150 x 76 1.770 Salad bowls, smoking pipes
8 x 8 x 2 200 x 200 x 50 2.098 Jewellery boxes, cigar boxes
8 x 8 x 3 200 x 200 x 76 3.146 Music boxes, fruit bowls
10 x 10 x 2 250 x 250 x 50 3.125 Clock faces, fruit bowls

Features and uses of our exotic and rare woods

ProSono supplies ten hardwood species that are indigenous to Southern Africa.

Each hardwood has unique characteristics that make it suited to turnery applications. Our range of rare exotic woods also enables unique colour combinations.

Pink ivory (also called red ivory) wood is sought after by turners the world over for its striking pink to red colouring.

Ideal for turning, pink ivory is commonly used to make jewellery, inlays and marquetry, pens and fountain pens, luxury holders, chess pieces, tool handles, billiard cues, jewelry boxes, music and cigar boxes, decorative fruits, salad bowls, pepper mills, knife handles and more.

Wild olive (also called African olive) wood is characterized by its dark, strongly marked, and tortuous grain.

It is an ideal wood for modern and antique carvings, the turning of pen and fountain pen blanks, paper cutters, candle sticks, smoking pipes, coasters for bottle and water jars, jewellery and cigar boxes and grandfather clock faces.

Tambotie, also called African cocobolo, wood has a distinctive darkish brown colour and a lasting pleasant smell. It is appreciated for its glossy finish after polishing.

This wood is commonly used for small furniture, painting and picture frames, knife handles, fruit bowls and decorative fruits.

African blackwood is extremely stable, dense, and rigid, even in extreme climatic conditions. It is free of porosity and black only after polishing.

This wood is widely used for musical instruments and instrument components.

It is also successfully used to create pens and fountain pens, billiard cues, doorknobs, and handles, cutlery handles, pistol grip and gunstock and tips, inlays and marquetry work, rosaries and church items, carvings, and sculptures.

Available in large spindles and bowl blanks, mopane has outstanding stability and high density, as well as attractive, warm colouring.

It is suitable for smoking pipes, tool handles, table feet, balustrades, shepherd walking sticks, vessels, dishes and decorative fruits.

Black chacate wood (also called small fake mopane) is a slightly dark greenish and streaked wood, attractive for large turning work. It reminds some of our customers of palo santo (lignum vitae) wood from South America.

This wood is available in large spindles and bowl blanks. It has been used successfully for large bells for woodwind instruments and for flutes, and for impressive guitar back and sides. It is also used for tool handles and weapon crosses, knife handles, billiard cues and other turned items.

Leadwood is available in large spindles and bowl blanks.

Its high density, stability, distinctive grey colouring, and glossy finish make it suitable for table feet, balustrades, dishes, knife handles, smoking pipes, pepper mills and cutlery handles.

Camel thorn is a beautiful wood. Its distinctive light red colour is appreciated for bowl blanks, pepper mills, knife handles, pens and fountain pens and jewellery boxes.

Snake bean wood turns and glue well. It is widely used in turners’ and joinery work. It can be high gloss varnished. It is commonly used for pen and fountain pens, knife, and cutlery handles.

The investigation of new species suitable for turning is a slow and staged process. It is dependent on several factors, such as:

  • the availability of concession and annual cutting permits from the relevant authorities.
  • the availability of sufficient quantity and quality of wood in the concession.
  • opinions expressed by our leading partners regarding the potential of each individual species in their national markets.

At present, some examples of African hardwoods under investigation for broader use are: South African mulberry (Morus mesozygla), red bushwillow (Combretum apicolatum) and jackal berry (Diospyros mespiliformis).

Our exotic hardwood for sale

South African residents can visit our showroom, where a wide range of exotic woods are displayed as pen blanks, turnery squares, spindles and bowl blanks. They can select from our treasure bins, in which a substantial volume of non-standard offcuts are kept.

Our foreign customers can order combo packs of 10 or 20 kilos. These contain non-standard blocks and squares of the same species. The parts in these packs have irregular shapes, colours and grain patterns. Some consider these parts sub-standard but others, like carvers, find them of great value for creating unique pieces and works of art.

Alternatively, let us know your requirements and we’ll work with you to find the best turners’ hardwood for your needs.

peppermills made from exotic hardwoods Drechslerholz
Pink ivory knight chess piece turnery
mopane pens

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