Sapele Mahogany

Sapele MahoganyThe commercially imported wood is reminiscent of mahogany, a member of the same family, with a distinctive figure, typically applied where aesthetic appearance is important.

Sapelli or Sapele


Sapele is in the same family as Mahogany and it therefore, shares many of the same qualities. Hailing from Africa, Sapele contains an interlocking grain that produces light and dark ribbon stripes throughout the boards. Sapele is commonly quartersawn to enhance these attractive ribbons, and it is often used as a veneer for plywood in this application. As a solid wood, it is relatively stable once dry, and it is frequently used in the construction of doors. Sapele is a fine exterior wood, although it is often painted in window and door applications because of its fine grain. Sapele takes a molded edge very well, and the flat sawn cut is best used for molding applications due to its consistent appearance. Quartersawn Sapele’s ribbon texture does not produce as consistent a coloration as flat sawn, but quartersawn Sapele does boost increased stability.

The heartwood is a medium to dark reddish brown or purplish brown. The color tends to darken with age. Besides the common ribbon pattern seen on quartersawn boards, Sapele is also known for a wide variety of other figured grain patterns. The heartwood is ranges from moderately durable to very durable in regards to rot resistance. Sapele is susceptible to insect attack.

It is most commonly used for flooring , trims, windows and doors. Among its more exotic uses is that in musical instruments. It is used for the back and sides of acoustic guitar bodies, as well as the tops of electric guitar bodies. It is also used in manufacturing the neck piece of ukuleles and 26- and 36-string harps. In the late 90s, it started to be used as a board for Basque percussion instruments. Sapele interior doors (normally a thin veneer of the wood on a cardboard honeycomb inner structure) were very popular during the 1980s and 1990s, although uncommon now.

The American car maker Cadillac uses sapele wood for interior wood trim on its vehicles. The shower seat manufacturer Hudson Reed also use sapele wood for certain shower seats. Boutique headphone manufacture Forte Audio uses Sapele Wood in the construction of their ‘Forte Clarity’ line of hi-end head-phones (reference).

A large African tree ranging from Sierra Leone to Angola and eastward through the Congo to Uganda

Janka hardness is 1500,
(16% harder than Red Oak (1210 Janka)

Heartwood is moderately durable, resistance to termite attack variable.

Used extensively, guitar bodies, flooring, furniture, cabinetry, decorative moldings, paneling, doors and windows, and any application where genuine mahogany is used.

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