The Strength of Wood

More Appalachian Hickory Information

Kingfisher bokken, jo and other wooden weapons intended for paired practice are made of Appalachian hickory. This wasn't always true. Many of you remember to the early days of Kingfisher when we offered a selection of exotics including Ebony, Rosewood, Bubinga, Purpleheart, Ipe, Pau ferro, Osage orange and many others. Indeed, all of these woods are easy to find at local lumber yards and, with their high density, hardness and beautiful colors, seem like good choices. When we started making wooden weapons in the mid 1980s however we sometimes encountered unexpected failures in products made from wood species reputed to be very strong including weapons of tropical wood, laminated construction and various composite materials. Practically all information available online underscores this general confusion related to the strength of wood. So, rather than rely on conflicting information from technical publications, anecdotal evidence and simulated methods with finished goods, we investigate the strength of wood directly, looking at the effect of suddenly applied loads to multiple standardized samples. Our impact testing device has been in continuous use since 1991 and allows us to evaluate a wood species prior to weapon construction.

Our testing on hundreds of wood samples and their impact strength is has been developed over a 27 year period. The images below show standardized samples of wood, subjected to a ram type impact tester that evaluates the shock strength of wood in foot pounds.

Kingfisher wood samples for testing

Kingfisher wood samples - impact group

Kingfisher recommends tropical wood, exotic species, dymondwood, and other composites only for suburi (solo) practice and display, not for paired practice. Since we have no control over a product's ultimate use, we don't offer weapons of materials that we suspect may fail in paired practice.

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The video below demonstrates an actual hands on test done by an independent reviewer: