Iroko is often seen as a wonderful substitute for Teak. It’s extremely close to Teak in appearance and performance, but it costs much less. So, if you want to make some quality hardwood projects as a beginner, Iroko might be the best choice to balance price against performance.
Today, we’re going to go over the traits of Iroko and what it’s like to work with it before passing our final judgment on it.
Let’s get started.
The Traits of Iroko
In a lot of ways, Iroko is just like Teak. It’s extremely hard, its grain is tight, and it tends to be lighter in color; although it can grow to a deep red as it ages, that is often seen as a bonus.
However, Iroko is also prone to developing interlocking grains. This isn’t common across an entire piece of timber, but it is annoying to deal with, and it can cause problems that you don’t have to deal with when you use Teak.
Ease of Sanding:
Like Teak, Iroko is very easy to sand. Its surface grinds away easily, and you can use sandpaper with normal hand motions to sand it to a fine polish without too many issues.
However, there is a tearing problem we’ll mention next, and we highly recommend moving on to power tools for sanding when trying to remove that type of damage.
Ease of Planing:
Planing Iroko is where most of the problems come in. If you plane an entire length of timber, you will likely come across some interlocking grain. When that happens, you’re bound to run into trouble.
As the planer moves through the wood, it catches on that interlocking grain and tears out sizeable chunks of wood. This is not optimal, and if it happens on a piece that must be precise, you’ll have wasted a piece of wood. If the piece doesn’t have to be too precise, you can sand away the damage with a power sander.
To avoid this, try to identify the interlocking grains, and cut pieces that you need to plane from sections that aren’t interlocked. Since interlocking grain isn’t too common in large amounts, that shouldn’t be too hard.
You can also help ease the issue by using proper planing techniques.
Ease of Cutting:
Like Teak, this is super easy. The grain is super tight, and the wood isn’t prone to splintering. So, you can easily cut it. There are two problems to consider, though.
First, the silicon content is high like it is with Teak. So, you’ll need to sharpen your tools more frequently. Then, you also have to worry about the calcium content. This can create several issues while cutting the wood, and it might even cause tear outs.
Iroko is Beginner-Friendly, but Caution is Needed
Iroko is a great wood to start with. Yes, it is a little more challenging than Teak. However, imagine needing to cut a piece of Teak in a way you can’t mess up, and then you promptly cut it several inches too long. You’ve wasted an entire piece of expensive timber. With Iroko, that’s not as much of a problem.