Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: How is African Mahogany to work with?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    East Virginia
    Posts
    449

    How is African Mahogany to work with?

    Just saw an ad for 4/4 and 6/4 African mahogany for $3.50/bf.

    I've worked with mahogany (I LOVE WORKING MAHOGANY!) but never African mahogany...anyone out there used this stuff?

    Does it machine, carve, glue, finish like regular mahogany?

    Does it look like regular mahogany when finished?

    $3.50 sounds like a pretty good price, no?

    Thanks for any replies.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Colorado
    Posts
    1,884
    Here's a recent project ... from the beginning:

    http://picasaweb.google.com/neil0502...eat=directlink

    Here's the end:



    There are two of them -- different only in the grain patterns of the mahog.

    I found the wood VERY easy to work with -- predictable grain, *relatively* easy to hit on the router table/jointer ... with *minimal* chipout. It shapes well, finishes well, and is a pure JOY to look at.

    My finish was a few coats of clear Watco Danish Oil, followed by a few coats of paste wax.

    My next project -- likely a TALL dresser -- will almost certainly ALSO be made from AF.

    I found ZERO downside ... other than ... it was rough on my sinuses until I started wearing my respirator. Seems a fairly common thing.

    [EDIT: price seems quite reasonable, to me !!]

    GO, MAN, GO !!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Mandalay Shores, CA
    Posts
    1,689
    Blog Entries
    22
    I love it. I built a small table with it and then was talked into redoing the cabinets in the Master bath.
    Shawn

    "a little mayhem breaks up the ennui of everyday life"
    "be the change you want to see in the world"
    "adventure is hardship seen from a distance"

  4. #4
    I think african mahogany will vary on density and could be as dense as hard maple. Though it will still be friendly to work with.

    I got 90BF of african mahogany for $4/BF from Austin Hardwoods. To me it's not so much the cost per BF that matters the most, but it's the condition and quality of the boards and I basically got to look through a brand new pallet of stock to hand select each board and check each one for straightness and grain pattern.

  5. #5
    I've built several chairs and benches from African Mahogany. It's not very hard, but the grain can be very wavy. Some of it planes very well, other boards had lots of tearout.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Northwestern Connecticut
    Posts
    6,014
    Its a mixed bag really. Some if it is very close to SA mahogany. other is pretty close to a cruel trick foisted by Satin. Some is stable, even grained, good color, handsome stuff. Some is squirley, interlaced grain, goes bananas when ripped, grain tears out no matter how you process it, color looks like a bad orange fake tan through any stain, suitable only for heavy prime paint grade.

    Its hard to describe but you get a feeling for which is which after sorting and using a lot of it, and there are still surprises. I pulled some Tuesday, maybe a few hundred BF, and in the same pack I saw color ranging from dark like sapele to a washed out anemic salmon, grain from beautiful straight pattern grade to "what the hell went wrong with this tree". So this is not a species you want to buy sight unseen IME.

    I have had some that was so fair I used it for windows with delicate bars, and other that made better fire wood than anything. With a pack of SA mahogany I can almost close my eyes and pull lumber (and hold my breath at the tally window), with African, I'd keep my eyes wide open all the time, from purchase to finishing.

  7. #7
    I have about 1300 ft of it. It's softer than most of the hardwoods and the grain and color varies. Works easy and takes a finish. Remindes me of working with pine without the knots.
    Sometimes when shaping it will produce a fuzzy edge if the grain is just right. The Rough sawn board will also look fuzzy try not to buy those.

    I will get some wierd looks for this but IMHO.
    Maybe not top on my list, but good for resale items and something that is not worth alot like coat racks and the like just not hard enough to withstand much abuse by the kids etc if your making fine furniture.
    Chad
    Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Colorado
    Posts
    1,884
    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Stucke View Post
    I will get some wierd looks for this but IMHO.
    Maybe not top on my list, but good for resale items and something that is not worth alot like coat racks and the like just not hard enough to withstand much abuse by the kids etc if your making fine furniture.
    Fairly fair to say, actually.

    Its Janka score is 830 -- putting it just a touch softer than, say, SYP (longleaf) and black cherry.

    But ... since ours is grown and out of the house, and fending off his OWN kid ... not much of an issue.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Travelers Rest, SC
    Posts
    11
    If you've ever worked with true Honduran Mahogany, you'll hate African. It takes much longer to darken to that beautiful deep red hue (if ever), it's MUCH lighter and softer. It just doesn't compare. I know the "real" stuff is more expensive, but you get what you pay for....

    It's not how you start, it's how you finish...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Colorado
    Posts
    1,884
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Cibes View Post
    If you've ever worked with true Honduran Mahogany, you'll hate African.
    I've heard the same thing said, a few times.

    Similarly, I didn't start with ... and am in NO hurry to buy Festool products ... for much the same reason

  11. #11
    More orange than brown so adjust your coloring. Light in weight but machines and finishes well in my limited experience. I've made enough with it to want to use something else for larger pieces but, only for the color (others love the color so don't take this as a negative, just my taste). Consistency in the 40 or so bf I bought was pretty good.

    I think it was BLO and shellac on all of these but it was definitly that protocol on the mahogany and ash on the right (walnut and maple on the left and beech and walnut in the rear).

    More Candle Holder Oct 2009 001.jpg

    Here (same batch of mahogany) I added a blend of Transtint Reddish Brown, Brown Mahogany and just a bit of Lemon Yellow in a DNA base. The top coat is dewaxed shellac.

    ae-NWC-closed.jpg

    So, depending on your taste, it takes oils well and modifes through coloring well too.
    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” -- George Orwell


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Grand Junction, CO
    Posts
    63

    I Like It

    I've built a couple of things out of what I am sure is African Mahogany. As far as I know I've never used Honduran Mahogany. My understanding is that the HM is a superior wood in amost every way, but for me, the AM is fine. I really enjoy working with it, although I mostly do just the basics. Ripping, Planing, Crosscutting, Routering. I don't use handplanes. And frankly I think a little bit of tearout adds to the character of the piece. There are places in the wood that have some character, but mostly it's fairly straight grained and pretty. I've found the sawdust to be a little sticky and you'll have to wipe down your tools some.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Stuart Gardner; 04-20-2010 at 1:19 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
    Posts
    6,511
    It is useful to be careful about what you're talking about. Several species sometimes get sold as African Mahogany, and they do behave differently. There's Khaya, which botanically is a distant cousin to Honduras Mahogany. There's also Sipo (also called Utile), Sapele, and Makore. They're not even related to Honduras Mahogany, but they are quite respectable hardwoods.

    Of the bunch, I think Sipo looks the most like Honduras. None of them has quite the chatoyance that Honduras has. All of them are harder than Honduras, and none of them carve as easily as Honduras.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    So. Cal.
    Posts
    941
    Heres my first guitar I ever made from scratch... Its African Mahogany. The wood was little rougher than I was expecting when working with it. It was closer to working with wenge than maple... the way it tears out and fuzzes up... This has a few coats of natural finish Danish oil on it.

    guitar2.jpg

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •