Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chess Wood on the Block

The New Wood on the Block

If you’ve spent much time looking at chess sets online you’ve probably seen those beautiful red-orange color blood rosewood chess sets. And, you may have wondered why The Chess Store doesn’t carry blood rosewood chess sets. Well, we would like to set the record straight and share with you why that is. There is a blood wood and there are several species of rosewood, but the truth be known, there’s no such thing as blood rosewood. What is mistakenly being calling blood rosewood is in reality – padauk or African padauk (aka Pterocarpus soyauxii).

African padauk is one of the most colorful of all the exotic woods and the term “blood rosewood” is definitely a good description. We just recently started carrying African padauk chess sets and we decided to refrain from the blood rosewood name, we’re sticking with African Padauk. Our padauk chess sets come from India where nearly all of the world’s decent wood chess sets come from. African Padauk is easily sourced in India and is about the same cost as ebony – rather expensive.

The use of African Padauk for chess sets is actually pretty new. The old standard for reddish color chess sets was red sandalwood. But India banned the export of red sandalwood and existing inventories have slowly been depleting to where there are very few red sandalwood sets left. We have a very small quantity left and the selection is getting smaller every day.

While red sandalwood is a pretty wood, African padauk is a lot more colorful and polishes to beautiful luster on the buffing wheel. Another nice characteristic of African padauk is that it does not darken nearly as bad as red sandalwood. What many people don’t know is that red sandalwood can look nice and red at the beginning  (brand new chess set) but it will darken to a deep burgundy, almost black, in just a couple of years. The oil in red sandalwood reacts with UV light accelerating the patina process. There’s no way around this except for keeping your chess set in the dark.

While red sandalwood chess sets will become rarer and perhaps even more valuable, if you want a chess set that just simply looks gorgeous, consider African padauk. There’s not another wood out there that makes a more beautiful chess set or chess board for that matter. We have padauk chess boards and they’re just as beautiful. When you get a chance we invite you to check out our new padauk sets, boards, and complete packages. You’ll enjoy the color!

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