The Strength and Benefits of Sarawak & Borneo Kayu Belian (Iron Wood )
Due to the excellent resistance to bacterial, fungal, insect and marine borer attack the Belian (Iron) wood is highly prized for many outdoor uses. Additionally, the wood’s high density and easy workability lend it to particularly desirability in maritime structures, dock construction and ship building, especially Indonesia’s famous pinisi sail-boat. Common local uses include: House construction, door construction, water butts and troughs, boat building (Pinisi), tools, tool handles, talisman, jewellery, medicinal slivers (for wounds, cuts, abrasions, bites and tooth-ache/infection), bridges, blowpipes and spear shafts.
Internationally, it is renowned for heavy construction such as a buffer between transportation trailers and heavy steel fabrications (such as boilers, pressure vessels, reactors and many others). It is also frequently found in dry docks as a timber to separate the hull of ships from the steel supporting stands. Other uses include use in boats and ships, industrial flooring, roofing (as shingles), fine indoor and outdoor furniture, coffin wood (esteemed by Chinese due to ability to withstand rot and insect attack) and tool handles (especially those exposed to continual high impact (the wood does not splinter and thus injure hands, eyes or endanger the operator on catastrophic failure) such as shovels, axes, block splitters, sledge hammers, heavy mallets, demolition hammers, mattocks, picks, hoesand hammers). Some expert cabinet-makers treasure an ulin-headed carpenter’s mallet as an excellent intermediate density hammer face between the usual wood and a metal one and is able to quite easily tap or “whack” stubborn highly polished metal fixtures without damage to the face or the fixture.
Other sources indicate that ulin wood is often used for marine constructions such as pilings, wharfs, docks, sluices, dams, ships, bridges, but also used for power line poles, masts, roof shingles and house posts and to a minor extent as frame, board, heavy duty flooring, railway sleepers, fencing material, furniture etc.