If you’ve been woodworking for any period of time, you probably know how excited people get over teak. There’s a good reason. It’s a solid wood product that makes some of the highest quality items in the world. It’s also extremely flexible and can work in a massive number of applications.
However, it’s also expensive. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive woods available.
So, how do you get all the great benefits of teak without going bankrupt on woodworking projects? Well, you use an alternative.
Today, we’re going to cover iroko timber; it’s the perfect alternative to teak, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get your hands on it.
What is Iroko?
Iroko is also known as “African teak”. Despite the name, it’s in no way related to the teak family. However, it looks similar, and it’s a comparable hardwood that can be used for a ton of the same purposes. Iroko is grown in tropical regions of Africa, and its rainy environment is the root cause for its evolution to share a lot in common with everyone’s favorite luxury wood.
Growing predominantly in tropical Africa, iroko has had to develop a lot of water resistance to survive the humidity and harsh rainfall. In construction or woodworking, this translates well. It allows iroko to be used for outdoor furniture, boat manufacturing, and even for bathroom or kitchen cabinetry just like teak would be.
Coloration and Grain:
First, the grain of iroko is totally different than teak. It’s more gnarled and random. This can make iroko slightly more complicated to work with, but it’s a cheap price to pay for teak-like performance, and it adds an exotic look to whatever you’re making. However, its coloring is almost exactly the same; especially when you get the lighter samples.
Unless your house guests are wood aficionados, it’s unlikely that they’ll tell the difference, and even if they know it’s not luxurious teak, it’s still guaranteed to get a reaction for its stellar appearance.
Iroko naturally prevents termite, ant, and other infestations both by being extremely hard and with its structural density. Unless you really neglect your iroko furniture and other crafted items, it’s unlikely that bugs will ruin it.
Strength and Durability:
Because iroko is so hard, it’s difficult to damage its surface unless you’re really trying to do so. Bumping into it, dropping things on it, or walking on it is highly unlikely to cause any noticeable damage, and the right finish can make it scuff-resistant if your application requires that. Outside of using it as a cutting board or something else that is intentionally abused, your iroko items should last for decades or more.
Then, you have to consider its tensile strength. Iroko can hold a substantial amount of weight without bending and snapping thanks to the high density of its straw-like internal structure. If a structure is built properly with iroko, you don’t have any worries about it breaking down.
Use Iroko for Your Next Teak Project
Unless you absolutely want the exact look of teak, you can save a lot of money by using iroko. It’s a lot cheaper, and it can be used for practically anything teak can.