Different Types of Wood for Furniture Making in Sri Lanka

There are many types of woods used in Sri Lankan furniture, and its home to a rich history of using numerous types of tropical hardwoods in furniture making over the years. During colonial rule of the Portuguese, Dutch and then British, popular types of wood for furniture making included the likes of Jak, Ebony, Satinwood, Nedun, Teak, and Calamander to name a few.  

Many furniture makers in the past were inclined to use different types of woods in one piece of furniture for functionality as well as aesthetics. This along with the use of furniture stains, wax, varnish and different furnishes made it difficult to identify which different types of wood for furniture was used.  The density of the wood in itself played a big part on the different types of wood for furniture making in Sri Lanka was put to use. The scale of the density started with calamander, ebody, satinwood then nedun, jak and then teak.

The following are the different types of wood used in furniture making in Sri Lanka.

Tamarind Wood | Tamarindus indica

The Tamarind Wood stems from the Tamarind tree, which is known as Siyambalagaha in Sinhala. It’s a difficult type of wood to work with.

Satinwood | Chloroxylon swietenia

 Called Burutha in Sinhala, and Mal Buruta for those that are figured, satinwood is used well against ebony wood in decorative wood pieces.

Nadun Wood | Pericopsis mooniana

Nadun wood was named by the Dutch in the 18th century and used for cabinet making.

Teakwood | Tectona grandis

Introduced to Sri Lanka from the likes of India and Burma, it became the most popular and prevalent type of wood to be used for furniture making in Sri Lanka since British rule.

Kolon Wood | Andina cordifolia

Deriving its name from the Kolonna Korale area of the Sabaragamuwa Province, this type of wood is often used for decorative panels.

Kumbuk Wood | Terminalia arjuna

The Kumbuk tree often grows near rivers, where the likes of pebbles can become ingrained in the wood, and thus this type of wood is best used for handmade items as opposed to machine cutting.

Ebony Wood | Diospyros ebenum

A very popular choice of furniture making wood during the Dutch period due to the high contrast against the white walls, this type of wood was used for moldings and legs.

Jak Wood | Artocarpus heterophylum

Jak wood, or Jack Wood was greatly used as a utility building wood, as well as for small furniture pieces. This includes the likes of chairs and chests.

Kohomba | Azadirachta indica

Also known as Neem or Margosa, the wood is often used for cabinetry, chests, and cupboards. It’s a popular choice for kitchen furniture as the wood’s oil act as a natural insect repellent.