I build period reproduction furniture. I use a lot of genuine SA mahogany. I am trying to match the no longer available Cuban or Santa Domingan mahogany used in the 18th century. Does anybody have experience with any of the African mahogany substitutes for genuine mahogany, such as utile or sapele? South American mahogany is becoming very scarce and very expensive in our area. It is especially hard to find thicker stock. Anyhow, the lumberyard is pushing utile as very similar with just lighter color that can be dyed to look like genuine. I am very concerned about using this for period furniture that contains hundreds of hours with carvings, veneers and inlays. My inclination is to order the real mahogany and pay shipping charges on top.
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor E:
The African mahoganies I've seen are just not the same. More coarse, not the same grain or coloring.
Cuban is somewhat available in Florida after the big storms take down trees, but it is not inexpensive. We buy a lot of 10/4 and 8/4 Honduras from a great source, but they - like others - are not taking new customers on the mahogany. We can all hope Brazil gets it together and returns to exporting the Honduras they have been holding. Hey, if we normalized relations with that oh so evil Cuba, then we would have easier access to the Cuban mahogany. Politics!
Okoume has the name of Aucoumea klaineana, so it is not even in the same genus as African mahogany. Its properties are not that close either.
Sapele is Entandrophragma cylindricum.
"Tropical Timbers of the World" by Chudnoff is online. Many local African names are often difficult to relate to Latin names; further export names may not be easy to relate either. The names are so variable and sometimes locally creative too.