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NOTE: there is rarely any "standard" or "typical" look for a wood so take what's in this table with a grain of salt
the REST of the pictures on this page will give you a better overall feel for this wood

Honduran mahogany / Swietenia macrophylla of the family Meliaceae

5" x 5" flat cut, 5" x 5" quartersawn, 3/4" wide end grain, and a 1/4" x 1/4" end grain closeup.

Diffuse porous with large sparse pores having a thin rim of vasicentric parenchyma with marginal parenchyma delineating the growth rings. Some pore multiples are present and rays are very clear at 10X but not to the naked eye.

THE MAHOGANY FAMILY
a brief history of the mahoganies in the Americas plus a
discussion of the whole family and the various names used


my samples:


both sides of a plank of genuine mahogany / Swietenia macrophylla --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. For more detail on this plank see the sample directly below.


both sides of a sample plank of genuine mahogany / Swietenia macrophylla --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This sample was cut from the plank directly above.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Honduran mahogany / Swietenia macrophylla --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of quartersawn Honduran mahogany / Swietenia macrophylla --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


sample plank and end grain; although given the common name Honduras mahogany, this sample was listed with the botanical name Sweetenia occidentalis, a name that I do not find in reference works even when I correct the genus name to Swietenia so I'm assuming it's really Swietenia macrophylla. The color in these two pics is too green and should be more reddish brown


HIGH GRIT END GRAIN CLOSEUP of the piece directly above --- color is accurate


both sides of a sample plank of Honduran mahogany (listed as bigleaf mahogany). These pics have a touch too much red.


end grain and end grain closeup of the sample plank directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


first face and the end grain of a sample of Honduran mahogany (listed as bay wood mahogany) / Swietenia macrophylla. This part of a collection which is discussed here: COLLECTION B


the second face, before and after slicing off 1/8" showing how the patina from aging is only surface deep.


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above.


first face and the end grain of a sample of Honduran mahogany / Swietenia macrophylla. This part of a collection which is discussed here: COLLECTION B. Note that it is entirely possible that this is actually Cuban mahogany / Swietenia mahagoni, since collection B has a different sample (directly above) which is definitely Honduran mahogany and the two are not distinguishable at the level of a 10X loupe.


the second face, before and after slicing off 1/8" showing how the patina from aging is only surface deep.


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above.


both sides of a sample plank of Mexican mahogany / Swietenia humilis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. See the link at the top of this page for a discussion of this species.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a small piece --- HUGE enlargements are present for both these and the pics directly below. These face pics have just a hair too much red but the ones below are accurate


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


two faces of a piece of turning stock --- the light tan color is correct


end grain, end grain closeup, and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


two faces of a piece of curly Honduran mahogany turning stock


end grain, end grain closeup, and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


three bowl blanks and a closeup of the middle one


plank with a particularly good showing of the look of interlocked grain on a flat cut surface


slab --- in the enlargements you can clearly see a few sapwood wormholes, a fairly common occurance for all mahogany, in my experience.


turning sticks with a light curl that can be better seen in the enlargements


turning stick with a light curl


both sides of a plank


plank and closeup


misc planks photographed at a lumber yard


sticks --- the two very lightest pieces are sapwood and the piece directly above the ruler on the left has some sapwood with blue stain, as does the one two pieces above that. The darker piece (lower left) is probably from a different tree


plank and closeup both sold to me as genuine mahogany --- both go to 2nd enlargement


small block and end grain --- this was sold to me as genuine mahogany


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the small block directly above


genuine mahogany plank and end grain


end grain closeup of the piece directly above --- I completely forgot to fine sand this butt end




both side faces of a turning stick sold to me as genuine mahogany


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above --- sanding was rougher than I realized, thus all the scratch marks.


one section, and a closeup, of a long plank sold to me as genuine mahogany. The surface in the closeup is a particularly good example of the look of interlocked grain on a flat cut surface.


another section, and a closeup, of the same plank as directly above


a set of slats. Although these were sold to me as genuine mahogany, I think it is possible that they are Philippine mahogany. Certainly they don't show much promise of the luster you can get from genuine mahogany but are more grainy, like luan


plank with some nice curl that doesn't show up very well here (it's a little more clear in the enlargements)


both sides of a sample plank of mottled Honduran mahogany / Swietenia macrophylla. HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The vendor has this as pomelle, but he is very unreliable in designating figure and I see this as mottled.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


gorgeous 2"-thick slab with excellent grain pattern and very rich color, shown accurately here


planks --- very light color is correct, and the sapwood (lower portion of lower plank) is also lighter than usual


planks --- I think these are probably all sapwood


planks --- the one directly above the ruler has a light curl that can be seen better in the enlargement.


a couple of cheap sticks with some sapwood that has what is most likely blue stain.

two turning sticks sold to me as genuine mahogany


both sides of a sample plank sold to me as genuine mahogany --- HUGE enlargements are present


end grain and HIGH GRIT END GRAIN CLOSEUP of the piece directly above


both sides of a crotch plank that I bought to cut up and use in my bowls


two sections and a closeup of a long curly veneer sheet contributed to the site by Daniel Duelen, whom I thank for this and other contributions. This is a really beautiful sheet.


curly veneer sheet and closeup. This was also contributed by Daniel Duelen. Thanks Dan.


veneer with a slight red tinge


a normal-thickness veneer. This is really pretty stuff, with a beautiful honey-gold color that is accurately shown here. There is some worm-hole damage in many of the sheets that these samples came from and you can see a few of the smaller holes here.


veneer sold to me as genuine mahogany --- these pics have a bit too much pink in them (they should be more like the piece directly above)


two pieces of veneer sold to me as genuine mahogany


two ebay pics of the same top sheet, posted by the vendor who sold me the lot from which the sheets directly above came. Note the difference in color between his two pics. Neither of his pics shows the true color, but mine does.


flat cut veneer


thick veneer (about 1/12th inch) that is slightly red


thick veneer (about 1/12th inch)


veneer sold to me as Central American mahogany --- this has a darker color than other mahogany veneer I've seen


crotch veneer; obviously not right at the crotch but near it --- definitely compression wood and very rich looking.


crotch veneer; the piece in the first pic has hardly any crotch figure but does have the dense rich look and swirly/non-uniform grain direction that is common to crotch areas.

web pics:


planks


planks listed as Honduran mahogany / Swietenia macrophylla --- some of these seem to be a bit too bright yellow/orange


planks listed as Central American mahogany


planks listed as South American mahogany


flat cut and quartersawn planks listed as genuine mahogany


planks listed as genuine mahogany


plank listed as caoba --- I'm dubious about the red color


planks with unlikely color --- the purple is particularly silly; some of these might be correct, assuming that the wood is moistened and the pics taken in a bright light


bowl blank --- the 2nd one was listed as figured and does seem to have a very light mottle


curly planks, both of which have color at the extreme ends of what is likley (but possible)


fiddleback planks --- these were quite expensive and I have not seen much Honduras mahogany with this kind of really strong curl/fiddleback, so I assume it's pretty rare.


curly plank with color that is possible, but is probably too light


quilted planks listed as genuine mahogany


figured plank listed as genuine mahogany


crotch


pen blanks that have been oiled and waxed


veneer


veneer listed as Centeral American mahogany


swirl veneer listed as geniune mahogany


quartersawn and flat cut veneer listed as genuine mahogany


quartersawn veneer


veneer listed as genuine mahogany from Guyana / Swietenia macrophylla


veneer listed as genuine mahogany from Peru / Swietenia macrophylla


veneer listed as South American mahogany pomelle veneer, but it looks to me more like quilted than pomelle


veneer, and closeup, listed as South American mahogany pomelle veneer, but it looks to me more like quilted than pomelle


veneer, and closeup, listed as South American mahogany pomelle veneer, but it looks to me more like quilted than pomelle


quilted veneer


fiddleback veneer


blistered veneer


veneer, and closeup, listed as South American mahogany pomelle veneer. The pomelle figure is VERY weak


veneer, and closeup, listed as South American mahogany pomelle veneer. The pomelle figure is VERY weak


veneer, and closeup, listed as South American mahogany pomelle veneer. The pomelle figure is VERY weak


veneer listed as South American mahogany pomelle veneer. The pomelle figure is VERY weak


South American mahogany figured veneer all from the same vendor


South American mahogany figured veneer all from the same vendor


crotch veneer and flame crotch veneer, both listed as South American mahogany


crotch veneer


crotch veneer and figured veneer listed as genuine mahogany


veneer listed as South American plum pudding mahogany veneer. The plum pudding figure is there but it is extremely weak.


guitar kits --- that middle one is really stunning; take a look at the enlargement --- it's unusually pale, but what a spectacular grain pattern ! The one on the left is a faint version of the same thing.


thinwood guitar sets listed as genuine mahogany


turned pen by my friend Philip Passintino --- he has this piece as genuine mahogany / caoba


bowls


bowl and two closeups --- I shot this in a craft store that sold mostly wooden bowls. There is a hair too much red in the pics, especially the first two; the last shot is very accurate in color.


Two views of a little turning I did specifically to show many aspects of the grain. This turning was done 9 years ago and I just now got around to taking the pics (I TOLD you I was a world class procrastinator. Or wait ... did I put off telling you that?) Anyway, I cannot remember exactly what the piece looked like 9 years ago (and also I should mention that it has a polyurethane finish) but I am very sure that it was considerably lighter than it is now even though it spend most of those 9 years in a closed box and even aside from that has had little exposure to indirect sunlight and none to direct sunlight. The pics here have just a hint too much red in them. Although this piece was not cut from any of the samples at the top of the page, I'm pretty confident that the original color was almost exactly the same as the pieces labeled "three bowl blanks and a closeup of the middle one" and also I remember that when it was lighter, the grain was easier to see. This darkening is a reasonably good example of the excellent age-patina that mahogany tends to take on --- it's even better (acutally MUCH better) if an oil finish is used and re-applied at regular intervals, with buffing.




Planks from the BogusColorVendor, with their usual unrealistic colors (although the exaggeration here is WAY less than is often the case with that vendor's pics)


figured planks as shown with their usual unlikely color and what my graphics program gets if I just hit "adjust color balance".


both sides of a curly plank --- note the rather radical contrast in colors --- I seriously doubt that the wood has that kind of color shift from one side to the other.


plank and closeup


plank and closeup