African Versus Honduras Mahogany

      Woodworkers compare the grain characteristics, color, and machinability of different Mahogany varieties. November 19, 2005

Question
I am going to build a bar using either Honduras or African mahogany. My supplier has told me I can save significant money by using the African variety. Does anyone have any experience with the African variety? I know over time Honduras ages to a much deeper color than when it starts out. Is this the case with the African also? Any help with this would be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor A:
We have used 1000's of bd/ft of African for exterior millwork in the past 5 years. The most obvious issue with African is "ribbon striping". This is when the grain switches back and forth every four inches or so. It looks very attractive as veneer on furniture, but it is a real pain to mill (tearout). I've had my distributor sort out the ribbon stripe. Color wise itís usually a pinkish/purple. I would recommend using a dark stain.



From contributor R:
Iíve used African before, and the main problem I had was checking that only showed up after the finish was applied.


From contributor G:
I've used a great deal of African, and am fairly happy with it. Contributor A and Contributor R mentioned a few of the problems. It can get "stringy" when machined. I also have seen stress cracks that run perpendicular to the grain.


We use a great deal of quartered, because it has the ribbon striping on the face. I personally think the grain looks much nicer in "ribbon". But, Honduras can have that look too. I just don't see it as prevalent. I wouldn't hesitate using it again.


From contributor W:
Stringy - you got that right. I was recently dadoing 3" wide African mahogany on my router table. Once I was finished, the bottom of the dados were so stringy and rough that it took over two hours to get them sanded smooth and not to mention all the fuzz and stringy material in the router collet and bit. It seems to me that that species always seems to have high moisture content and it seems to bow quite a bit after being ripped to size. Itís always a gamble. I donít really like it but it does finish quite nicely.


From contributor J:
I have inspected, bought, sold and machined both species for over thirty years. The guys that said it is "stringy, tears easy, etc...." are somewhat correct. Actually if all of your knives are sharp and your machinery is well maintained, you will not have those problems. African gets somewhat darker, but takes 15-20 years before you notice it. Also, to anyone who gets his/her distributor to lay out the "ribbon stripe", your distributor gladly does that. It brings a premium of anywhere from $600-$800 more. Almost all "true mahogany" moulding is African, but the laymen/general public has no idea.


From contributor P:
Availability is the biggest issue here, along with price. I've had poor luck with the lighter colored mahoganies and Iíve had them fuzz from machining. Neither is very stable - rip a board on your table saw and watch it snake every which way. Spanish cedar is a pretty good cost effective option.


The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor M:
I have used a lot of both species. The African does not hold its color very well. When itís exposed to light it will fade a lot more than the Honduras. The Honduras is heavier and finishes better, and probably is more stable. I do not want to use the African because it will not match the existing Honduras.



Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?


Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering

  • KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering: Wood Properties




    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.



    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2014 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB











  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers


      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article