African mahogany has become extremely popular owing to its excellent characteristics. Besides, a large number of woodworkers are now preferring to buy finished African Mahogany as the substitute for American mahogany which is now categorized as endangered species. Unlike other woods, such as Sapele and Spanish Cedar, African mahogany actually lies in the botanical family as American mahogany.
African mahogany, itself, is a group of five related species, which are named as:
- Khaya anthotheca
- Khaya grandifoliola
- Khaya ivorensis
- Khaya madagascariensis
- Khaya senegalensis
Here, Khaya is a genus in the mahogany family called Meliaceae and its timber is referred to as African mahogany. Hence, the term “Khaya” is often used interchangeably with African mahogany.
While most of these species are used by woodworkers, Khaya ivorensis is the most common choice when it comes to buying high-quality and affordable hardwood.
Properties of African Mahogany
The color of this hardwood can vary from light pink to deep reddish-brown. The grains of this African hardwood are typically straight but interlocked, which produces nice ribbon stripes on quarter-cut wood pieces.
The hardness and density of African mahogany vary depending on the species. However, you will find it sturdier than American mahogany.
The main challenge for woodworkers, furniture makers, and hardwood flooring manufacturers is to distinguish the quality wood from less desirable options.
How to Distinguish Quality African Mahogany Hardwood from Less Desirable Woods
Hardwood that has ribbon stripes with the same material density doesn’t tear out quickly when passing through a planer. Low-quality wood usually fuzzes when a planer is used on them.
Thus, when you are at a facility, try to make some quick passes with a hand planer before buying. In case you are buying African mahogany online, you can ask them to provide a sample or make a small order before you spend big amounts on procuring hardwood for your woodwork. Trying some quick passes with a planer will help you check the color and working characteristics of the wood.
The lesser grade wood is known to have silica in a higher amount which makes the wood brittle. Such type of wood can quickly make equipment and tools dull. Thus, you need to be wary when you choose a supplier and buy hardwood in bulk amount.
In general, you should avoid growth rings, larger pores, and too many pin knots. Working with a reputable supplier can increase your chances to find the best quality finished African mahogany at affordable rates.
Apart from this, you also need to focus on getting a wood that is dimensionally stable, glues well, finishes finely, and ages beautifully. It slices and peels well, and hence African mahogany is also the best choice for veneering. Since it also carves nicely and can hold intricate detail when machined, it is also an ideal choice for making fine furniture, casework, architectural moldings, millwork, and even musical instruments.
Once you have chosen the right type, you will enjoy working with African mahogany and creating furniture, flooring, and other items with it.