The TreeA large tree, reaching a height of 42m and a diameter of 0.9m. The boles may be clear for about 18m above the large buttresses, but are not always straight.
The TimberThe sapwood, usually about 75mm wide, is sharply differentiated from the heartwood, and is whitish to pale yellow in colour. The heartwood is orange-brown or brown or dark red-brown, weathering to darker shades. Lighter-coloured parenchymatous markings often give the wood an ornamental figure on tangential surfaces. The wood is rather hard and heavy, weighing about 830 kg/m3 when dried. The texture is coarse but even, and the grain is interlocked and often wavy. Sulphur-yellow and dark-coloured deposits are characteristic of the species, and can commonly be seen in the vessel cavities. It is reported that the timber is liable to promote the corrosion of ferrous metals under moist conditions, but there is some doubt about this.
DryingThe timber dries slowly without appreciable degrade, but if submitted to rapid drying conditions there is a definite tendency for end splitting and surface checking to occur.
StrengthMerbau has good strength properties and is similar to mengkulang in this respect.
Working QualitiesMedium to good - The working properties of merbau are similar-to those of West African afzelia, but the higher incidence of gum in merbau tends to collect on saws, and there is also a tendency for the grain to tear out in quarter-sawn material during planing and moulding. A reduction of the cutting angle to 20 degrees is beneficial. The wood tends to split on nailing, but holds screws well, and can be stained and polished reasonably well. The yellow deposits are soluble in water, the dye thus produced having a lasting effect on textiles.
Latin NameIntsia bijuga, Intsia palembanica
Also known asMirabow (Sabah)