Holtey Classic Hand Planes

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Holtey No.98 Smoother

Rare Woods

Huanghuali - Dalbergia Odorifera

Huanghuali (Dalbergia odorifera)

The Chinese term huanghuali literally means "yellow flowering pear" wood. It is a member of the rosewood family and is botanically classified as Dalbergia odorifera.

In pre-modern times the wood was known as huali or hualu. The modifier huang (yellowish-brown) was added in the early twentieth century to describe old huali wood whose surfaces had mellowed to a yellowish tone due to long exposure to light.

Huanghuali has very attractive grain pattern, its chatoyancy reflects light and its grain exhibits patterns called friendly ghost faces. It is a fine grained fragrant and precious tropical hardwood only perhaps equalled in value by the Zitan.

Unlike Zitan however, Huanghuali shows little tendancy to darken with age, and for this reason is sometimes preferred by collectors.

Huanghuali - Dalbergia Odorifera
Huanghuali - Dalbergia Odorifera
Huanghuali - Dalbergia Odorifera
Zitan - Pterocarpus Santalinus

Zitan, Purple sandalwood (Pterocarpus Santalinus)

Amongst these two exotic tropical hardwoods this is perhaps the most beautiful and extraordinarily rare species. It has been little known in the Western world and has an exceptionally fine grain and hardness making it so dense it will not float in water.

Its colour is dark purple on an underlying red background with darker lines, whirls and often ripple figure. Zitan when fresh cut is oriflamme, the colour of the Qing dynasty imperial court ensign. It became so rare and coveted during that time that the imperial emperors issued a royal edict forbidding its use in anything other than royal furniture and articles; it was traded weight for weight with gold.

The Zitan tree grows very slowly and has always been in short supply. It has historically been used for furniture and sculptures - King Solomon was given tribute logs of Purple sandalwood by the Queen of Sheba.

Today furniture made in this noble timber commands premium prices and is much sought after by collectors. It is truly the most desirable wood of all.

Zitan - Pterocarpus Santalinus