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What Is Mahogany Wood?

Antique carved mahogany chair.
Mahogany wood has a fine grain without knots.
Mahogany wood takes well to a variety of stains.
Mahogany wood is used to make the parts of some electric guitars.
Mohagany may be used to build shelving and cabinets.
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  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2014
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Mahogany wood is a richly colored lumber that is among the more valuable wood species in the world. It is known for its unique pink coloring, which develops into a deep reddish-brown as the wood ages. Unlike alternative wood products, such as oak or pine, mahogany features very few knots or voids. This gives the wood a smooth, even grain pattern, which makes it ideal for fine furnishings and wood craft.

Most species of trees that produce mahogany wood grow quite large, which enables harvesters to produce large, continuous boards. Using these large boards, furniture makers can create desks, tables, and other furnishings without seams or joints. Mahogany is also relatively easy to work with. It is incredibly strong and durable, allowing craftsmen to create long-lasting products. Compared to other materials, mahogany is easy to sand, cut cleanly, or turn on a wood lathe.

While the majority of this wood is used for furniture-making, its rich coloring and durability also make it a popular choice for manufacturers of musical instruments. Many wooden drums are made from mahogany, as are acoustic and electric guitars. Wooden boat producers also rely on it due to its strength and resistance to rot.

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Mahogany wood comes from the Swietenia genus of trees. There are three major species of tree in this genus that the wood can be derived from. The rarest and most valuable is the Swietenia mahagoni, which is grown throughout Florida, Honduras, and the Caribbean. Swietenia humilus and Swietenia macrophylla are grown on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of South America, respectively.

According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), all types of mahogany trees are endangered and nearly commercially extinct within South America. Within the 164 member countries of CITES, this wood cannot be exported without a CITES export permit. This is an effort to protect the supply of trees, as well as the nearby ecosystem, from the threat of deforestation.

While many people admire mahogany for its beauty and strength, some may hesitate to purchase this material due to environmental concerns. To alleviate this problem, consumers can look for wood stamped with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) stamp of approval. The FSC is an independent, non-profit agency concerned with responsible forestry worldwide. This organization certifies wood harvesters and exporters based on their efforts to protect old growth forests, minimize their impact on local wildlife, and limit the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides. By purchasing wood certified by the FSC, shoppers can enjoy the benefits of this product while helping protect its future availability.

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Discuss this Article

anon343113
Post 9

Mahogany trees have been cut down in my country for people's own uses, which I think is against the international conventions for the protection of such species.

anon252262
Post 7

Where is the mahogany wood commonly found?

anon220003
Post 6

Do you know how long it takes to optimally season mahogany before it can be used in furniture?

anon115726
Post 3

you spelt coloured wrong. First sentence.

Moderator's reply: "Colored" is the common spelling in the U.S. "Coloured" is the common spelling in the U.K. Both are correct, according to Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Since most of our authors are from the U.S., that spelling will be the one you see most often. Thank you for visiting wiseGEEK and contributing to the discussion!

chicada
Post 2

In my opinion, Koa wood and mango wood make for some of the most beautiful cabinets and veneers. Koa is similar in color to mahogany, but it has wider grains, and can have intense curls and waves in the grain. Koa can also have light and dark brown colors, often in contrasting combinations.

There are about 40 varieties of mango wood. Mango wood is a medium hardwood that can range in color from chocolate to blond. The wood can have a curly grain with contrasting speckles, or a straight grain. Some varieties of mango wood also have yellow, pink, and orange hues.

Cabinets made from either Koa or the more abundant mango easily rival the beauty of mahogany wood cabinets. The woods are both native to Hawaii, and you can often order them online.

wisno
Post 1

nice articles. Your information helped me to know more about mahogany wood.

Thanks, wisno

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