African Mahogany

dar_east_african_mahoganyAfrican Mahogany (Khaya Ivorensis):  The trees can grow to a height of 110-150 ft tall, with 4.-6 feet trunk diameter It typically has a large canopy and is mostly an open-crown tree. The African Mahogany prefers a drier climate and is found along the Ivory Coast of Africa.  Although it has been found in low-lying areas of the rain-forest.  The trunk bole is straight, with branches generally occurring approximately 33 feet off the ground, which makes it possible to yield wide long clear boards. The recognition and importance of the West African specie has occurred as a result of the the near distinction of Swietenia Mahogany, more commonly known as Genuine Mahogany. What happened? Over-logging and illegal trade for over 85 years had brought all species of Swietenia Mahogany to near extinction. Interestingly enough, and not that long ago, the Mahogany Khaya logs were cleared to be used as fuel for the villagers.  But, more importantly, they were cleared  to make room for the commercial growing of Cocoa. Now, Khaya is valued as “tone wood” for musical instruments, architectural mill work, yacht interiors and T & G paneling/flooring. The desirability and advantage of African Mahogany is such that now U.S. importers are competing with Chinese importers. Planks are 4” – 15” wide and lengths are 8’ – 16’.

Distribution: West and Central Africa.  Heppner Hardwoods sources are long established and adhere to the Lacy Act, IUCN Red List and CITES.

General Characteristics: African Mahogany’s heartwood is a light pink brown but darkens upon air exposure to a deeper red-brown.  This specie also exhibits an optical phenomenon known as chatoyancy, or wood iridescence.  It has a texture that ranges from medium to coarse and a grain that’s straight to interlocked. African Mahogany has historically been rated second to the Swietenia Mahoganies, but it is a wood of many fine characteristics and properties, among them a range of interesting figures and an innate luster.

Hardness/Janka: Janka score of 2200; (71% harder than Northern Red Oak).

Grain:  Has a medium to coarse texture with open pores. The grain can be straight, irregular, or interlocked with striped figuring in quartersawn

Variations Within Species & Grades: African Mahogany is more brashy with more peck out and is more brittle than  Swietenia.  Quartersawn African Mahogany has a very nice ribbon stripe and more luster than you get with Tropical Mahogany, so it is a little more “flashy”.

Customized Species & Grades: Grade available is FAS or Select.  If one wants character or a country look, don’t look for it in Mahogany.  The wood is clear. Although the pores are distributed, this wood produces a very distinct, pleasing grain. It is the most lavishly figured mahogany offered in plain stripe, broken stripe, mottle, fiddleback, fine crotches and faux swirl.

Finishing: Mahogany’s been a prized wood used in furniture since Sir Walter Raleigh presented a mahogany table to Queen Elizabeth I in the late 1500s. It can be milled and carved beautifully and holds a high gloss finish.  Raw mahogany can have  inconsistent color, but it holds stains evenly.  Some finishes and top coats can accentuate the chatoyancy, iridescence wet look.