Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, acacia koa wood symbolizes integrity and strength. It is chatoyant honey gold and deep bronze when polished to perfection. The wood has little to no characteristic scent of its own, but our interpretation of its natural beauty is blackstrap molasses, lavish mahogany, light blonde amber, and a splash of effervescent ginger. Wear this dark, sumptuous blend for grounding, harmonizing, and re-balancing your energy. It is particularly supportive when you need to stay strong in challenging times.
Koa (Acacia Koa)
Koa is the best known of the endemic Hawaiian woods. It is recognized worldwide for its remarkable variety of grain figure which ranges from plain to curly, to deep fiddleback. The color can go from reds to chocolate browns, with the sapwood sometimes even a bleached white. The grain is fine and the texture medium-coarse, but it is the figuring that sets Koa into a class of it’s own.
Chatoyancy is a property that is usually attributed to certain gems, the cat’s eye effect or shimmer which gives a sense of depth in the gem. This property can also be used to describe some of the more dramatic pieces of curly, tigerstripe, and fiddleback Koa. This figuring gives the wood a three-dimensional quality; and depending on from what angle one views the wood, it can take on several completely different characters.
In pre-western contact times, Koa was used to build canoes, spears, and paddles. The canoes were carved out of a single tree, which was carefully chosen, spiritually and physically for the purpose. Today Koa is valued for furniture, guitars, boxes, paneling, and bowl turning. It is interesting to note that Hawaiians of earlier times did not use it for bowls or platters because of an unpleasant flavor associated with the wood.
The trees grow successfully from 1500′ to about 6000′ in elevation and are very sensitive to grazing animals. Koa leaves change totally in appearance from seedling to older growth. They start out as lacy, divided leaves, and then fuse into a single sickle-shaped leaf. Koa is currently on the endangered species register due to concerns about the habitat it provides for endangered native Hawaiian wildlife.
Use of Koa Wood
Koa is widely considered to be the most beautiful and useful of Hawaii’s native hardwoods, and along with Monkey Pod and Mango, it is the most common Hawaiian species to be imported into the lower 48 United States.
Visually, Koa has been compared to Mahogany, while in terms of working and mechanical properties, it has been compared to Walnut. Because of its nearly equal tangential and radial shrinkage, (its T/R Ratio is only 1.1), Koa tends to be quite stable regarding environmental changes in humidity.
Common Uses: Veneer, furniture, cabinetry, musical instruments (especially guitars and ukuleles), canoes, gunstocks, carvings, bowls, and other turned/specialty wood objects.