Like all commercial products, different species of wood enjoy moments of popularity. Then for reasons unknown, a new aesthetic emerges with emphasis on a new species with a different “look” or appeal. Anigre had its own “moment in the sun” and awaits its rediscovery.
Due to its tendency towards high silica content (which blunts tooling), Anigre was often overlooked. Improvements in tooling and the discovery of Anigre’s positive characteristics soon made it an industry favourite in the 1960s. Anigre is a large tree, up to 180 feet tall with 4-foot diameters. Boles are clear of branches for up to 80 feet yielding large amounts of lumber and veneer in excellent widths. And, lurking inside the trees is an astounding variety of figure types including fiddleback, block mottle, quilted, crotch, and even birdseye.
In the past, when light colours were in vogue, Anigre didn’t disappoint. The heart is a light yellowish brown to a pinkish brown. There is no demarcation between the sap and heart, further increasing yields. The grain is straight, occasionally interlocked with a medium texture. It dries well without stress although it can be prone to blue stain. Once dry Anigre is a stable wood. These characteristics haave made it popular in the wood industry, especially as a veneer where the large flitch sizes can be made into panels with a minimum of seams. The purveyors of office furniture have traditonally been large consumers of Anigre. It was also popular in all sorts of architectural projects where designers took advantage of the variety of figures and the large sizes of product available. Architectural projects can consume large amounts of veneer and the large logs from Anigre trees could produce prodigious amounts of sequenced veneered panel.
Times change and the recent fashion for dark coloured woods have diminished Anigres appeal. Anigre though, is still easily available as a veneer and as lumber. Woodworkers should be aware of its tendency to blunt tooling. This effect is species dependant. Anigre is a group of species, but they are not sorted into separate identities To be on the safe side, carbide tooling is recommended for machining. Other than that, Anigre is fairly easy to work with. It glues, screws, and nails with no problems. Of course, being a hardwood, pre-drilling for screws and nails is necessary. It finishes well and can be polished to high luster.
Anigre stains extremely well. Careful staining can turn Anigre into a ‘wood chameleon’ able to mimic many unrelated species especially South American Mahogany. Many woodworkers take advantage of its different figure types to make spectacular panels, doors, and tabletops. However ,it is not overly durable and is prone to fungal and insect attack, so it is limited to interior applications.
Anigre is native to eastern and western tropical Africa, often exported from Cameroon, Kenya, and Nigeria. While there are often concerns about wood coming from this region, Anigre is not considered threatened or endangered. Dealing with reputable wood retailers can help allay any concerns about purchasing imported woods. It is also reasonably priced for an imported wood. This is a species that should be considered for many furniture and millwork projects. The combination of outstanding figure and its ability to take a fine finish make it a great candidate for panel work If you have ever wanted to develop your veneering skills or wanted to improve your finishing techniques, Anigre is a great choice and won’t disappoint.