SAN FRANCISCO—Bamboo and palm interior finishes manufacturer Smith & Fong Co. announced it has commercialized a line of palm dimensional lumber, according to company founder and CEO Dan Smith.
The palm lumber, milled at Smith & Fong’s manufacturing operations in India, complements the company’s bamboo dimensional lumber, which was launched in 2013 and has proven to be a popular material among woodworkers and finish carpenters.
“As we develop a new range of palm finishes such as flooring, plywood, veneer and paneling, we wanted to give the woodworking public a chance to explore the material too,” Smith said. “The applications for this material are limitless.”
Smith said palm is an ideal material for freestanding furniture pieces, casework and can be laminated into blocks or square dowels and turned on a lathe. Additionally, the lumber can be sliced into thin veneer and applied to a plywood base for further fabrication or veneered and laminated in a form press. “The possibilities are truly endless,” he said.
Offered in Many Shapes, Dimensions
Smith & Fong’s palm lumber is offered in many shapes and dimensions. The hard, dark wood comes from only certain parts of the palm stem, and the core is soft and pulpy. Rendering palm into a hardwood-like state produces a wider range of dimensions than a regular hardwood or softwood tree might. For this reason, the company offers everything from a small block 1.75” thick x 4” wide x 8” long to a 1.5” x 3.5” x 97”; in essence, a standard 2”x4”. This enables hobbyists, woodworkers and serious custom furniture builders access to sizes that match their projects.
Initially Smith & Fong will offer black palm lumber with a look that’s similar to wenge or ebony. The black palm has a rich dark tone with lots of grain variation and figure wood. “This is what really sets palm apart from other woods,” Smith said. “Palm, in fact, is not a wood in the tree sense of the word and therefore does not have growth rings that define its grain and look.” In the future, the company will also offer coconut palm. “The starting point for us in offering a new wood is that its resources are plentiful and not on any endangered species list, and that harvesting and processing the material renders a win-win for everyone in the supply chain.”
Smith & Fong first began exploring palm as a resource 15 years ago. Since then it has refined its sourcing and processing of this vibrant, sustainable wood. Although there is a wide range of locations globally where palm can be sourced, Smith & Fong has focused its most recent efforts on India and is committed to growing its operations there.