Satinwood, once favored by famed furniture makers Sheraton and Hepplewhite, produced an aromatic smoke powerful enough to sedate a person or kill a canary.
Industry historians say it’s doubtful satinwood’s sedative capabilities were widely known by early woodworkers. Instead, its fame came from a unique, golden yellow color and a satiny sheen.
The satinwood popular in the 1800s was imported from the West Indies by England and the United States. It smells like coconuts when worked or burned. However, early exploitation of the species has made it unavailable today.
The satinwood that craftsmen now use is East Indian, or Ceylonese satinwood, a species with the same color, sheen and sedative properties as the other, but without the scent.