If you are someone who is just starting to learn about Mahogany wood lumber, you may be surprised at the plethora of different species or designations that come up when you type the word “mahogany” into a search engine. You may have seen “Genuine”, “True”, “African”, “Honduran”, “Cuban”, “Santos”, Phillipine” and “Brazilian” among others. Most of these designations are easy to comprehend, as the species are named for the area from which they are harvested. But words like “Genuine” and “True” out there, you may start to wonder if some of the other species are not as authentic as they may seem.
To understand, let’s take a step back in time, to when Mahogany first gained popularity in the United States. During the 18th century, with international trade a bustling and booming market, new raw materials were being imported from distant lands. The trade system is what first introduced America to Mahogany imported from the tropics of South American. American furniture makers prized this material for its beauty, durability and fine workability. Mahogany furniture dating from this time period are now curated and collected as priceless antiques. Still today, the Mahogany lumber native to South American countries is considered to be the finest Mahogany in the world, which give it the designation as “Genuine”.
As the demand for Genuine Mahogany rose, so did the price. To offer a less expensive alternative to consumers, several different species of Mahogany and similar species were introduced to other parts of the world. Some of these species are members of the same genus as Mahogany and some are not, having resemblance to Genuine Mahogany only in aesthetics. By far the most popular of these Genuine Mahogany substitutes is African Mahogany.
African Mahogany does happen to come from the same family as the South American variety, but it has several differences in quality. First of all, the color of African Mahogany is a much lighter pinkish color when compared to Genuine Mahogany. The grain of the African variety actually interlocks, and that, combined with its higher level of hardness, can make for difficulty in machining. Planed African Mahogany will have a sort of “fuzz” (fine splintering) which requires a considerable amount sanding to achieve a desirable finish. There are higher quality pieces of African Mahogany available that will machine and finish a bit better than average for the species, but in today’s market where cost can be everything to some importers, this better quality lumber is rarer because it takes a bit more effort to find.
At J. Gibson McIlvain, we are proud to supply both Genuine Mahogany and the highest quality African Mahogany available. Our expert representatives from McIlvain travel internationally to forests and sawmills during the buying process, which allows us to be picky about the quality of Genuine and African Mahogany that we add to our inventories. Furthermore, every piece of wood that passes through our lumberyard is carefully inspected, board by board, numerous times before being shipped. For more information about Mahogany from J. Gibson McIlvain, visit us as www.mcilvain.com.