Mahogany versus Mahogany

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My wife wants me to build yet another garden bench from Wood magazine. This is a simple one compared to the Tudor I just completed.
I looked at what to build it from. The article suggested cedar from the home store instead of from the usual hardwood outlets we use. So, off to the local lumber yard. I priced the cedar and was just not happy with the quality. On the way out, I stopped to look at the decking display they are building. They have samples of all the material, wood and composites, on display like a real deck. We were taken back by the appearance of the mahogany deck. So, I priced out what I need for the project.
My local hardwood dealer lists 5/4 mahogany at $6.50 a board foot. The lumber yard stuff works out to $2.87 bd. ft. To buy the same amount of wood (includes a 4 x 4 x 8') would have been $100 more at the wood dealer.
Is this the same mahogany? It is clear, looks good, is planed and straight. Not only was the price better, but they had no 4 x 4 x 8' in stock so he gave me a 10' for the same price. I have enough left to make legs for a small table. They also have Ipe for a little more. The 5/4 x 6 is $2.06 a lineal foot.
--
Ed
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http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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Hi Ed,
Philippine mahogany (luan) is often sold as "mahogany," with no further identification. Other than for outdoor furniture, it's primary uses are pallet wood and crate wood. It is functionally the same for outdoor furniture, but doesn't have the patina properties (like turning a jaw-dropping cinnamon brown after a year or two) of genuine Honduras or Cuban mahogany. Is it a tad on the yellowish/creamy side, versus pink?
It should work fine as a garden bench.
Humbly submitted, O'Deen
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OK, that makes some sense. Not the grade in fine furniture.
As for the color, it is bownish, darker than the luan plywood I have, especially with oil on it. My plan is to finish it with Penofin. I'll have to get a sample of the Honduran to compare the two. Thanks, Ed
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Why not build it out of IPE?? Would be heavier, but would last forever
Since IPE has become available, I use in all my outdoor furniture projects instead of cypress or teak or other woods
John
wrote:

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Thought about it briefly. He did not have the 4 x 4 I needed. I'm also wondering how well I could cut a mortise in Ipe. Have you done that? I may just try it on another project my wife wants but it may have to wait until next spring. Ed
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Ipe is a superior outdoor wood with a 50 year life expectancy when used out doors.
With that said, it will mortise just fine. USE SHARP TOOLS. Ipe is approximately 3 times harder than Red Oak.
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The name 'mahogany' covers a multitude of sins.
Three broad categories: "Honduran" mahogany, the somewhat reddish-hued brown that is the classic material of the name.
"Philippine mahogany", (aka 'luan', and some similar species) often      slightly purplish to dark brown.
"African mahogany", (aka 'meranti', and other similar species) typically,      a light, almost golden, brown. this is _much_ lighter (mass-wise)      than the other 'mahogany' woods. Like only 2/3 to 1/2 the weight,      per unit volume.
Pricing is all over the place, depending on which kind of 'mahogany' you're dealing with.
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Is meranti the same as sapele?
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No. Sapele has some pretense to be a furniture-grade timber (although that ribbon effect is just too '70s for my tastes). Meranti is rough stuff, fit only for "industrial" uses.
When I was a kid, my Dad had a haulage business. The wagon decking was meranti; tongue and groove planks, hand-tongued with a Record 050 combination plane. Every time a careless crane driver dropped some heavy piece of equipment and broke a plank, that meant a weekend afternoon for me planing the edges in more meranti to replace it. The stuff is wicked for splinters too, and they're guaranteed to turn septic.
"African mahogany" probably has a wider range in the UK than the left coast USA (but we hardly see asian timbers). We see a wide range of such species, and you really have to see what you're getting before you buy it. There's little consistency amongst species names, especially for something like "utile" (creole for "passe partout"). Some are nice, some (like iroko) look nice but have a nasty tendency for twist if you're not careful.
Central American mahoganies are another wide range of species. Don't claim to have bought "a nice board of real mahogany" until you've been to somewhere like Boston Museum of Fine Arts, or anywhere in Bath (UK) and seen what the best timber of the 18th century looked like.
Anyone fancy a nice tool cabinet ? http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category7949&item732592022
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African 'mahoganies' used for marine plywood are usually Okoume or Sapele. Okoume does NOT have the rot resistance of mahogany. Dunno about Sapele but probably it does not either. Marine plywood is not rot-resistant, though it is supposed to use a fungus-resistant glue.
There are at least three genera of meranti, and I thought that 'Phillipine' Mahogany, not African, was of those merantis.
--

FF

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My interest is in Sapele. I saw some tables in New Hope last year that were made of Sapele and Maple. They were gorgeous. I have a project in mind using Sapele. I found that it is commonly called African Mahogany. Apparently, several species are called African Mahogany.
I have been told that it is difficult to plane with hand tools because of interlaced grain patterns. Is it more difficult than other woods such as Mesquite?.

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Lowell Holmes wrote...

Yes, in my opinion, but Sapele can be tamed. I have had to resort to scraping on some particularly difficult pieces, but a well-tuned smoother has usually been sufficient. Chip-out can be a problem when power- planing.
Jim
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I had to do some of the same on a recent mesquite project. It sounds like something I can do. :-)
My only other question is how to insure I get the Sapele instead of some other wood sold as African Mahogany. I saw a bin with wood that looked like Luan and other wood that was a red color. The light color would be very boring.
I think I'll go buy a small piece and make a box to learn about the characteristics before planning a more elaborate project with it.

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I haven't worked with it, but have sen some kayaks with sapele marine plywood made by Chesapeake light craft. Very attractive.
--

FF

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On Tue, 29 Jun 2004 15:23:38 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@host122.r-bonomi.com (Robert Bonomi) vaguely proposed a theory ......and in reply I say!:
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Almost balsa-like in some cases. I have seen meranti in a rack, though, that had much darker, denser wood in with it. I assumed it was heart wood. But it may have been something completely different?
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There are hundreds of species of meranti ranging from some almost as light and soft as balsa to others almost as hard and heavy as teak.
I was surprised to read here on rec.nahrm that lauan was sometimes called 'white' mahogany since all the lauan plywood I had seen was sort of a cocao color. Since then I have seen very pale yellowish tan lauan locally. Lauan is a trade name for plywood made from any of about 200 species of Asian/Pacific woods, mostly from three genera of meranti.
--

FF

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On 30 Jun 2004 06:50:59 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net (Fred the Red Shirt) vaguely proposed a theory ......and in reply I say!:
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hmmmmmmmmmm....and they all end up on the same shelf.
The hard stuff was a serious timber. I used to hunt it down each weekend. $ for $ it _was_ value. now Pen.... pinus Radiata is the only cheap wood..
God it's sad. 10 years ago I bemoaned the effort to pick up a few pieces of really nice this or that. Now I don't have to...there is none. The building trade used to grab the best jarrah. Now they all use pine. in the most expensive houses theynuse properly seasoned, dimensioned pine. The line between "quality" and "failure" gets thinner.
I reckon in West Aust I should offer to reinstall all of the pergolas. I would get some nice aged jarrah, and a lot of decent meranti. It had poor rot resistance, but was used in some previous building boom. It was a beautiful timber then, for internal use.
Sorry. But anyone that says there is not a disaster in the making need only look to quality. It's the first to go. And that is not an elitist, but a realist comment.
Look at English for instance. I started a sentence with and. <G>
Seriously, I was at the butcher's the other day, and we were joking about being 21. The woman behind the counter sadi "Would you want to be 21 again?" and I tried the old "Well if I knew then what I know now" stuff. But she was serious. What's ahead?
Sorry, again.

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Sounds like the stuff I have. Ed
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Hi,
I'm a long-time lurker, and am sorry to make a first post under these circumstances, but there are some important errors here that need to be corrected.
The "classic" mahogany is not "Honduran Mahogany", but rather a now virtually extinct species often called "Cuban Mahogany" (Swietenia mahogoni of the family Meliaceae). My understanding is that one simply cannot (at least legally) acquire non-recycled mahogany on the open market.
Honduran Mahogany (aka "South American Mahogany") is a related, but definitely distinct species (Swietenia macrophylla). This is the closest any currently available wood gets genetically to "classic" mahogany.
African Mahogany (Khaya ivorensis, Khaya anthotheca, and Khaya nyasica) is also related to "classic" mahogany, but is quite different in appearance and characteristics. It most definitely is not "meranti" (see bolow), and is quite dense (32-34lbs per cubic foot) and hard. It is readily available on the open market.
"Philippine Mahogany" is a meaningles marketing term for a large number of woods in the Shorea species. True names for these woods include Meranti and Luan. Meranti, in particular, comes in a range of colors (pale yellow to dark purplish red) with physical characteristics that differ significantly (for example, the relatively more dense, and more rot-resistant woods tend to be of the dark red variety, often marketed as "Dark Red Meranti", or, gasp, "Philippine Mahogany"). In general, while Meranti woods can be heavy (up to about 36.bs per cubic foot), it is not as hard or strong as Honduran or African Mahogany. Along with African Mahogany, it is also less rot resistant than Honduran Mahogany.
It would probably be good for someone to do a write-up on the various "mahoganies" for inclusion in a (the?) newsgroup FAQ.
Btw, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of this newsgroup for being such an incredible resource.
Kitto
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corrected.
mahogoni of the family Meliaceae). My understanding is that one simply cannot (at least legally) acquire non-recycled mahogany on the open market.
+ + + Just about right, except that an even beter grade of wood from the same species came from Haiti, before Cuba came into the picture + + +

currently available wood gets genetically to "classic" mahogany.
+ + + Pretty much spot on + + +

in appearance and characteristics. It most definitely is not "meranti" (see bolow), and is quite dense (32-34lbs per cubic foot) and hard. It is readily available on the open market.
+ + + You forgot Khaya grandifoliola and Khaya senegalensis (the latter is somewhat heavier 50lbs/ft3 as compared to 35-48 for the other species).
There is also quite a bit of other stuff from Africa marketed as mahogany, and sapele, sipo/utile, kosipo are indeed related to the real mahogany. + + +

Meranti and Luan. Meranti, in particular, comes in a range of colors (pale yellow to dark purplish red) with physical characteristics that differ significantly (for example, the relatively more dense, and more rot-resistant woods tend to be of the dark red variety, often marketed as "Dark Red Meranti", or, gasp, "Philippine Mahogany"). In general, while Meranti woods can be heavy (up to about 36.bs per cubic foot), it is not as hard or strong as Honduran or African Mahogany. Along with African Mahogany, it is also less rot resistant than Honduran Mahogany.
+ + + Shorea species can be quite heavy (easily over 62.5lbs/ft3). These day the Philippines don't export wood anymore. Note that all Shorea species are from SE Asia and accompanying Pacific, never from Africa. Trade names include lauan, seraya, meranti, balau, bangkirai, etc + + +

+ + + Sounds like work ;-) If ever my book is published I will be very clear on the topic, but pictures are everything here. + + +

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