Understanding the Hardness of Ebony
Ebony comes from a group of Ebony trees in the Diospyros genus. The wood itself is very hard which makes it difficult to scratch. Ebony has a hardness rating between 2,500 to 3,200 on the Janka scale, making it quite resistant to scratches from common items. The density and tight grain structure of ebony contributes to its high hardness and resistance to indentation and scratches. When finished and sealed properly, ebony can maintain its durability and be fairly stain resistant. However, prolonged and heavy use can slowly degrade the wood over time, exposing it to minor scratches and indentations.
More comprehensive information and care guidelines can be read here.
Factors That Influence Ebony’s Scratch Resistance
There are two main factors that influence ebony’s resistance to scratches: species and grain pattern.
Different Ebony tree species vary significantly in their hardness and density, affecting their scratch resistance. Gaboon ebony, for example, is one of the hardest species with Janka hardness ratings over 3500. This makes it highly resistant to indentations and scratches compared to softer ebony species.
The grain pattern of the ebony wood also plays an important role. Ebony with flat grain or face grain , where the growth rings are parallel to the surface, tends to show scratches more easily. This is because the cell walls of the growth rings are exposed and can be damaged more readily. In contrast, quartersawn and riftsawn ebony with vertical or diagonal grain orientations are more resistant to surface abrasions.
Here are some examples of how ebony species and grain pattern impact scratch resistance:
|Ebony Species||Janka Hardness Rating||Scratch Resistance||Grain Pattern|
Finishing and sealing the ebony wood can enhance its scratch resistance by filling gaps between cells and adding an abrasion-resistant surface layer. However, the species and grain will still be the predominant factors that determine how easy or difficult ebony is to scratch.
Tips for Protecting Your Ebony Furniture from Scratches
There are a few things you can do to help protect your Ebony furniture and reduce the risk of scratches:
Apply a finish or protectant. Wood finishes containing UV inhibitors and abrasion-resistant polymers can help prevent fading and scratches over time. Opt for a durable finish like polyurethane or marine varnish. Reapply the finish every few years to maintain the protection.
Buff and polish the surface regularly. Use a microfiber cloth and a wood polish made specifically for ebony furniture. This will remove any dust, dirt or debris that could cause scratches when rubbed against the wood. Polish at least once a month or as needed.
Use barrier items. Put coasters, placemats, felt pads and tablecloths underneath objects that sit on your ebony surfaces. This creates a buffer that reduces direct contact and scratching from dishes, glasses, electronics and other items.
Avoid exposing bare ebony to sharp objects whenever possible. Things like keys, zippers, jewelry and pets’ nails can easily scratch ebony. Be mindful of placing these objects directly on your ebony surfaces.
Handle with care. Although ebony is hard, it can still be damaged through everyday use. Be gentle when moving or stacking ebony furniture. Don’t drag items across the surface. Over time, this repetitive abrasion can lead to small scratches and wear marks.
In summary, by applying a durable finish, regularly polishing and buffing the surface, using barrier items and handling your ebony furniture with care, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of scratches and preserve its beauty for years. Following these simple tips will help keep your ebony looking its best for much longer.
Myths and Misconceptions about Ebony’s Scratchability
Despite ebony’s hardness, some myths exist. Ebony can still be scratched by sharp objects like keys and rings. Because of ebony’s incredibly high Janka hardness of 2,500 to 3,200 it may seem “scratch-proof” but is still susceptible to scratches from sharp localized pressure. Leaving ebony unfinished does not automatically prevent scratches either since it has no protective coating. While an oil finish or polyurethane coating can help reduce the risk of scratches from daily use and abrasions, regular use and wear will slowly break down even the hardest ebony over time showing minor scratches and marks.