RE: African Mahogany

RE: Subject
What total garbage. --------------------------------- Decided to take a wood shop course at a local community college.
"Why", you ask?
"So I can play with all those neat toys the have", says I.
Toys with brand names like "Oliver" & "Northfield" to name just a couple.
After several hours of significant safety training, was given a 4/4 piece of African Mahogany to square up for secondary machining.
First toy was a 12" jointer which was used to face joint the piece.
Talk about a beauty. When running, it was so quiet you really had to listen to hear if it was running.
Noticed a few "tear outs" scattered across the face after the first couple of passes, but nothing serious.
Next over to the planer where the "tear outs" continued to sprout like chicken pox all over both surfaces as the piece was machined toward 3/4" thickness.
Finally stopped planing at 13/16" and headed to the drum sander where 3/4" thickness was obtained and the bulk of the "tear outs" disappeared.
Finally back to a smaller jointer to establish a square edge, this time without any "tear outs".
About half the class had the same problem as I did, the balance did not.
Questioned the instructors about the problem.
Their answer was you couldn't tell if you were going to have this "tear outs" problem until you started machining.
One of the instructors stated he won't use African Mahogany.
Now you know why I think African Mahogany is total garbage.
BTW, it also has a much more open grain structure than Honduras Mahogany.
The price differential between African and Honduras Mahogany also reflects the difference in quality.
Off the box.
Lew
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Welcome to the UK.
Throughout the 20th century, we had far more timber trade with the west coast of Africa than with the Caribbean, so "African mahogany" (maybe khaya, but there are many of these things) is very common around here, but you'll rarely see central American unless it's 18th century. Most of my African mahogany is actually recyclings from 1930s-1950s furniture - I don't buy new rainforest timbers. Drawer carcases from a chest of drawers will provide a dozen useful boards of this, all ready thicknessed.
As you point out, the surface is a pain to work without tearout. The usual fix is a big drum sander, not a thicknesser. Sharp knives and pre-wetting the surface help though, and I can usually plane it nicely on my lightweight machine, just needing a pass from Steve Knight to finish it. Takes a while though - you can't just throw it into the machine, like a bit of oak.
It will take a good finish, but tends to look either dull and boring, or else that '70s retro Sapele striped chattoyance figure. Usually sanding it works, then using some of this sanding dust as a pore filler. Traditional recipes used brick dust. I've even made a jewellery box (small-scale princess variety) where I filled it with "pixie dust" - cosmetic skin glitter. This gave a bit of a magical sparkle (tm) to the surface, which set off the unicorn-pelt lining and unicorn horn fittings quite nicely.
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On 6/25/2010 7:22 AM, Andy Dingley wrote:

Wait a minute. You killed a <gasp> _unicorn_ to make this thing? And Small-Scale Princess didn't sentence you to Durance Vile?
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"Andy Dingley" wrote:

As noted this was the solution. ------------------------------
Sharp knives and

As an old machine tool guy, I'm strictly a Normite.
Not big on hand tools. --------------------------

I'm sure hand sanding is part of the course so will just have to wait and see what happens.
Thanks for the tips.
Lew
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Not questioning your knowledge but you didn't mention if you took care to joint and plane with or against the grain. Was there any instruction and thought given to which direction the material was oriented? I do see one clue "about half the class" had the problem which using random selection would account for about half of the material fed in the wrong direction.
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My experience has been such that I seldom find a board, particularly longer than a meter or so, that has the same grain direction for the entire length of the board. Flat sawn is the worst.
scott
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On 6/25/2010 2:57 PM, Scott Lurndal wrote:

With African Mahogany, there can be so much interlocking grain that there really IS no "against" or "with". It doesn't matter which direction you run it through; you're going to get tearout.
--
See Nad. See Nad go. Go Nad!
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Agreed. With Mahog however you can get boards that will be more consistent. Regardless, one should take it into account and at least try so I was just wondering if any thought had been given to it.
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"SonomaProducts.com" wrote:

Didn't make any difference which end you fed in first, the problem just didn't go away.
Lew
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You can't! This stuff is a tropical, so the grain is spiral in alternating bands. From looking at the surface of a board, it reverses every inch or so crosswise.
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Honestly, African Mahog is beautiful. Difficult maybe; but to call it garbage? Is Birdseye Maple garbage? Try to face joint that. Knowing how to treat a material to get the desired result is part of the art... IMNSHO.
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"SonomaProducts.com" wrote:

Compared to Honduras Mahogany, African Mahogany is pure garbage IMHO.
YMMV.
Lew
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OTOH, compared to Honduran, African is affordable and available.
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"Andy Dingley" wrote:

Having worked with teak (Plantation grown), Honduran doesn't bring on "sticker shock".
Lew
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On Sat, 26 Jun 2010 03:16:44 -0700 (PDT), Andy Dingley

On the gripping hand, African is neither attractive nor workable. On a realistic level, African doesn't compare to Honduran at all.
-- The most powerful factors in the world are clear ideas in the minds of energetic men of good will. -- J. Arthur Thomson
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Larry Jaques wrote:

Your opinion, not shared by moi :)

Sure it is.

And Honduran doesn't compare to Cuban.
--

dadiOH
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