Mahogany is a beautiful and durable wood that woodworkers and furniture makers have prized for centuries. However, it has become increasingly rare and expensive, paving the way for fake mahogany that won’t provide any good benefits.
To help you determine authentic mahogany, our woodworking experts have researched everything you need to know about mahogany wood.
Overview of Genuine Mahogany Characteristics
What is Mahogany?
Mahogany is a type of wood that comes from the tree Swietenia mahagoni. It is known for its hard, reddish-brown wood, which is valued for its durability, beauty, and resistance to rot and insects.
Mahogany lumber is the gold standard for stability. It has a considerable amount of chatoyancy, a rich, constant color, and polishes well.
Typically, mahogany lumber originates from mahogany trees throughout Mexico and South America. They grow slowly but can reach heights of 200 feet and have trunks as wide as 6 feet.
Illegal logging in the Amazon and other Central and South American forests has nearly wiped out the traditional Honduran Mahogany, also known as Broad-Leaf Mahogany.
Even while African Mahogany, a distinct or endangered species that may be cultivated in orchards in some areas of Africa, is in demand in the United States, you must transport it over the Atlantic Ocean to get there, which means access is labor intensive and time-consuming.
They take decades to reach their average height of 130 feet, and the old growth is especially vulnerable to unlawful harvesting because of its bulk.
Swietenia mahagoni and Swietenia humilis are two other species that can be used to make authentic mahogany. The latter is native to the Pacific coast of Central America, whereas the Swietenia mahagoni ranges from southern Florida to the West Indies.
It is common for mahogany trees to begin life as a light brown with pinkish tones before aging to a darker reddish brown. But if used on woodworking projects, you can stain mahogany according to your liking.
It has a straight pattern with a medium to coarse texture. It is often interlocked, which gives the wood a distinctive pattern and adds to its strength and durability.
Mahogany lumber can also have a wavy or curly pattern, giving the wood a more decorative and unique appearance.
Is Mahogany a Softwood or Hardwood?
The terms hardwoods and softwoods do not indicate the durability of wood but rather the tree from which the wood was harvested.
Hardwoods, in this context, refer to trees with leaves (dicots), and softwoods refer to conifers (gymnosperms). The former comprises paulownia, maple, oak, cherry, and walnut species, while softwoods include fir, pine, and others.
Big-leaf mahogany, another frequent name for Honduras mahogany, gives away the fact that it’s a hardwood.
How Hard/Dense is Mahogany? (Janka Rating)
The 800 Janka hardness or density rating for Honduran mahogany is impressive.
Despite being firmer than alternatives such as eastern white pine (420 Janka) and Douglas fir (660 Janka), it is still significantly softer than other widely used woods. For comparison, black walnut has a hardness of 1,010 Janka, sugar maple is 1,450 Janka, and white oak is 1,360 Janka.
Is Mahogany Timber Eco-Friendly? Are the Trees Endangered?
Swietenia mahagoni, the mahogany that first captured the hearts of the early immigrants, is now critically endangered due to overexploitation.
Both Swietenia humilis and Swietenia macrophylla have been labeled as “threatened.” Since local populations often lack the resources to regulate logging effectively, they are in jeopardy of extinction. There are rules in place to prohibit illicit harvesting, but the methods used so far have mainly failed.
Mahogany lumber is not a sustainable resource because of its widespread use, which has led to deforestation and a high volume of unlawful harvesting.
Most mahogany lumber imported into the United States is transported across oceans and continents.
Pricing of Mahogany Lumber
|Figure Type||Grade||Grain Orientation||Length Range||Width Range||Price Per Board Foot|
|4/4||None||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||4.00″ to 8.50″||$13.00|
|4/4||None||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||9.00″ to 11.50″||$14.00|
|4/4||Crotch||FAS||Mix||18.00″ to 36.00″||8.00″ to 15.00″||$30.00|
|4/4||Unselected||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||4.00″ to 15.00″||$50.00|
|5/4||None||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||4.00″ to 8.50″||$13.50|
|5/4||None||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||9.00″ to 11.50″||$14.50|
|8/4||None||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||4.00″ to 8.50″||$14.00|
|8/4||None||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||9.00″ to 11.50″||$15.00|
|12/4||None||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||4.00″ to 8.50″||$16.50|
|12/4||None||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||9.00″ to 11.50″||$17.50|
|12/4||None||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||4.00″ to 8.50″||$17.50|
|16/4||None||FAS||Mix||96.00″ to 144.00″||9.00″ to 11.50″||$18.50|
Images of Genuine Mahogany
Genuine mahogany lumber has a rich, reddish-brown color with a straight and fine pattern. It is also known for its distinctive, slightly oily texture.
Some photographs of damp wood or boards are treated with denatured alcohol to bring out the pattern. Because it evaporates and has no effect on moisture levels, denatured alcohol is used in production.
Top Mahogany Alternatives
It’s preferable to avoid utilizing mahogany lumber and instead go for an alternative material.
Our experts recommend cherry wood boards as a durable alternative to mahogany lumber for indoor furniture. Also think about using cedar, which grows naturally in the United States, or try outdoor furnishings produced from recycled HDPE plastic .
Mahogany wood is one of the most sought-after woods in the world that is widely used in furniture, cabinets, flooring, and other high-end applications due to its rot resistance, stability, and rich color.
It is becoming increasingly rare and, therefore, more expensive than other wood species available in the market.
- Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 Review — A Top-Rated Wormdrive Circular Saw (2023) - March 27, 2023
- DeWalt DWS779 Review — Is it a Good Compound Miter Saw? (2023) - March 27, 2023
- DeWalt DCS571B Review — Is this Atomic Mini Circular Saw Good? (2023) - March 27, 2023