Katalox or Mexican Royal Ebony is a valuable and rare wood of a plant species (lat. Swartzia cubensis) from the genus Swartzia. Other names for this tree are uamara, bannia, katalosh. Mexican Royal Eben is native to Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba. It is a tree with a height of 15–20 m and a trunk diameter of up to 1 m.
The core of the Catalox can range in color from dark reddish brown to almost black, but almost always with a strong purple tint. The sapwood color is pale yellowish white to creamy golden and, like black ebony, it is well defined. The use of pale sapwood and heartwood in the same piece provides a wonderfully bright contrast against the rich color of the heartwood.
The fibers are usually straight, serrated or wavy structures are rare. The texture is smooth with a good natural sheen.
Heartwood, which, in fact, is of value, usually has a very high resistance to decay, parasites, temperature extremes and other adverse environmental influences. Catalox is laborious to work because of its high density (average about 1150 kg/m3). The wood has a high blunting effect on the cutters, although it is excellently processed on a lathe, as it has a fine texture and pores. Bonding Catalox wood due to the presence of natural oils is problematic, although generally satisfactory. For the same reason, Mexican Royal Eben has a low odor when processed.
Catalox is recommended as a substitute for African black ebony in inlay work, stringed instruments, small crafts, furniture, gun butts, knife handles and billiard cues. The wood of Mexican Royal Eben is valued for its durability and aesthetics.
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