What Is Nyatoh Wood?

By Patricia Rockwood

As an alternative to teak, nyatoh, is an exotic wood species that weathers almost as well in outdoor applications. However, its origins in tropical rain forests make it an environmentally sensitive product. In Indonesia especially, according to Rainforest Relief, illegal logging threatens the continued health of this species.

Growth and Distribution

Nyatoh trees grow about 100 feet tall with trunks about 3 feet in diameter. They can be found in tropical, old-growth forests from India, through Southeast Asia to the Philippines, New Guinea and Pacific Islands. Some material may be available from sustainably managed sources, though the extent is not clear.

Appearance

The heartwood of nyatoh ranges from pale pink to reddish or purplish brown. The sapwood is lighter in color. Its grain pattern may be straight or interlocking, and also can appear in an attractive moiré, or watered silk pattern. It is similar to teak in color, but grayer rather than golden. Nyatoh weathers to gray just as teak does, but regular applications of a conditioning oil such as linseed will help it retain its original color. Nyatoh is not as durable as teak, although it will stand up to a decade or more of outdoor exposure without showing significant damage. It is susceptible to termites and powder-post beetles, however.

Workability

Some species of nyatoh contain a high content of silica bits, which can rapidly dull the cutting edges of tools. Woodworkers may also notice gum buildup in the wood. This makes it one of the more difficult woods for sawing, planing and working with hand tools.

Uses

In its native regions, nyatoh is not valued for finish work or fine furniture; it may be used for rustic furniture, plywood, and interior components. A 2003 article on The Free Library website stated that Restoration Hardware, Target and other retailers were promoting outdoor furniture made from nyatoh, but as of 2012 their furniture lines are touted as being made from sustainably harvested teak or mahogany.

© Demand Media 2011