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Leopardwood, scientifically known as Roupala spp., is a hardwood species native to the rainforests of Brazil, Peru, and other parts of South America. It is highly valued for its unique appearance, featuring a distinctive grain pattern that resembles the spots of a leopard, and its workability in woodworking.

Appearance and Characteristics

Leopardwood is celebrated for its unique and striking appearance, featuring a grain pattern that resembles the spots of a leopard. The wood typically has a reddish-brown background with dark brown to black spots, creating a dramatic and eye-catching contrast. Leopardwood has a fine to medium texture and is moderately heavy, typically weighing around 3.5 to 4.0 pounds per board foot (794 to 907 kilograms per cubic meter).


Leopardwood is known for its workability, making it relatively easy to machine, cut, shape, and sand. The wood can be planed and turned smoothly, and it holds screws and nails well. Leopardwood glues and finishes effectively, allowing for the creation of polished and refined woodworking projects. Woodworkers appreciate Leopardwood for its unique appearance and versatility in crafting visually appealing items.

Uses in Woodworking

Leopardwood is often sought after for its unique appearance in various woodworking applications, including:

  • Decorative Woodworking: Leopardwood is commonly used in decorative woodworking, such as inlays, turnings, and small projects. Its distinctive grain pattern adds a unique and eye-catching detail to projects.

  • Turnings: Leopardwood is a favored choice for woodturning, where its unique grain pattern can create stunning bowls, pens, and other turned items with visual impact.

  • Fine Boxes: Leopardwood is often used for crafting fine boxes and chests, adding a distinctive and dramatic detail to the interiors and exteriors of these pieces.

  • Furniture Accents: While not as commonly used for large furniture pieces, Leopardwood is occasionally used for accents, inlays, and decorative elements in furniture design.


Leopardwood offers good durability for various applications:

  • Indoor Use: Leopardwood is suitable for indoor applications, particularly for decorative woodworking, turnings, and small items. It can withstand normal wear and use when properly finished and maintained.

  • Outdoor Use: Leopardwood is not recommended for outdoor use, as it is not inherently resistant to moisture and weather conditions. It is primarily chosen for interior projects.

  • Bug/Insect and Rot Resistance: Leopardwood is not inherently resistant to insects and decay, so it is best suited for indoor applications where its unique appearance can be fully appreciated.

Leopardwood's distinctive appearance, workability, and versatility in adding unique details make it a favored choice for various woodworking projects, particularly those looking to create pieces with a bold and visually captivating character.