Amid questions about Genuine Mahogany’s future, one species that’s an excellent Mahogany alternative deserves a little more attention. Referred to by both the name “Utile” and the name “Sipo,” this African species offers many of the same characteristics as Genuine Mahogany. Since it’s more readily available as well as more affordable than Genuine Mahogany, we think Utile is definitely worth a serious look.
Like many African species, including African Mahogany, Utile has an interlocking grain pattern that displays light and dark bands. At the same time, though, the banding isn’t as intense as that of African Mahogany, allowing for less potential for tearing. Since it is easier to work than other African species commonly used as alternatives for Genuine Mahogany, many favor Utile over those other species. Particularly when it comes to projects requiring a clear coat or stain, we think Utile is definitely a great choice.
When compared to Sapele, another Mahogany alternative, Utile appears to have a lighter color. Quartersawn Utile displays a less striking ribbon-like striping, while flatsawn Utile very closely resembles Genuine Mahogany; experts can still tell the two apart by noticing the darker medullary rays of Utile. Many find that those darker lines add visual interest to the board, however, making Utile possibly preferable in appearance to Genuine Mahogany.
Ranking somewhere between that of Genuine Mahogany and African Mahogany, Utile’s hardness is definitely comparable to species in the Mahogany family. Unlike Sapele, the top Mahogany alternative, Utile is soft enough to mimic the easy-to-work characteristics for which many furniture makers highly prize Genuine Mahogany. The same characteristic makes Utile an ideal species for architectural millwork as well. With a density lower than that of Sapele, Utile is also remarkably stable, making it ideal for diverse applications.
The Utile tree grows to be quite large, allowing mills to yield many 12/4 and thicker boards in excess of 10 to 12 inches in width. The size and number of boards yielded by each tree, combined with the consistency that comes with a single species (unlike the many species included in what’s broadly called “African Mahogany”), makes Utile an excellent solution for lovers of Mahogany. Once difficult to acquire and considered a vulnerable species, responsible forestry practices have made Utile both highly available and sustainable in today’s market. J. Gibson McIlvain takes great care in researching only mills that have legal and responsible harvesting practices in place as well as reliable quality.
While Utile is still a lesser-known Genuine Mahogany alternative, it’s growing in popularity, as more and more people realize its potential. J. Gibson McIlvain retains a large inventory of Utile that can be used for various applications, ranging from cabinetry and millwork to exterior applications. To find out the exact sizes of Utile boards which we currently keep in stock, feel free to contact us.
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J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.