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botanical name uncertain

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

It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish among all the types of mahogany so if I'm not sure what kind of mahogany a piece is, I put it here. BUT NOTE: pretty much everything on this page is almost certainly Honduran mahogany, since most of it is from vendors who readily supply Honduran mahogany and just about nobody has Cuban mahogany in any quantities any more.. This is particularly true of the veneer sheets in my own samples.

my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K)
colors will vary under other lighting conditions

both sides of a sample plank. This was contributed to the site by Barry Richardson who sent it to me to see if I could tell for sure if it is Swietenia mahogany vs Khaya mahogany. Barry believes this to be Cuban mahogany but as I told him, no one but a wood scientist in a lab can tell the difference between Swietenia macrophylla and Swietenia mahagoni. I CAN, however, tell the difference between Swietenia and Khaya and this is definitely Swietenia (there is a VERY remote chance that it is sapele, but given the provenance of the piece and the characteristics, that is a very remote possibility indeed). HUGE enlargements are present.

The color is interesting. The inside is what I expect fresh cut Swietenia to look like but the severe difference between the darkening and the irregularity of the darkening are a bit of a puzzle. You can see what I mean on the end grain shots below and even more in the "sliced" pics at the bottom of this set. It's as though the wood was soaked in oil and the degree of penetration was erratic.

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above, and a closeup of a face grain area that is perfectly quartersawn and shows the kind of tiny ray flakes that sometimes occur in Swietenia spp. (and which show up better in the enlargements). The color of the face grain closeup is a bit too rich but the original had a strong orange tint that is not in the wood and this is the best color correction I could manage.

I sliced the piece above in two to get a better display of the natural light colored wood and I also took a face grain closeup showing more of the little ray flakes

both sides of a sample plank of miva mahogany / Dysoxylum mollisimum --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. NOTE: this is not a mahaogany that USA woodcrafters are particularly aware of and it is neither an American mahogany nor an African mahogany but rather an Australian wood that is in the mahogany family (Meliaceae) and looks quite similar to sapele and sipo which are other Meliaceae woods that are sometimes considered as mahogany substitutes.

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

American) mahogany veneer / Swietenia spp. --- HUGE enlargements are present. This part of a collection which is discussed here: COLLECTION D. Clearly the piece from the old collection has had chunks cut off. It is listed as "Mexican" so could be either Honduran (Swietenia macrophylla) or Cuban (Swietenia mahagoni). The one from the new collection is listed as Brazilian mahogany so is almost certainly Honduran

crotch veneer and closeup of the crotch area

crotch veneer and closeup of a the top middle, which is a swirly area away from the main crotch area

crotch veneer sheet and closeup

plum pudding mahogany veneer

plum pudding mahogany veneer sheet and closeup

web pics:

plank just listed as mahogany

crotch just listed as mahogany --- given the very rich color, it has clearly been moistened for the pic, but even then, I'm a bit dubious about the richness of the color

"drape" veneer

fiddleback veneer

figured veneer

quartersawn figured veneer

specifically listed as curly veneer

listed as "gaboon" mahogany veneer, but I think this is just gaboon, which is not mahogany

pomelle veneer --- looks like sapele to me, but it can be hard to tell sapele from mahogany sometimes.

pomelle veneer from a vendor who makes many woods look green regardless of what color they actually are.

quilted veneer --- I would not be surprized to fing that most or all of these pieces are really sapele, not mahogany


flat cut veneer

quartersawn veneer

"sanfoot" (= ?)

crotch veneer

feather crotch veneer

bookmatched pairs of half-crotch veneer

listed as "swirl" veneer and appears to be compression wood from near a crotch

a plank listed as "swirl" mahogany

"speckled" mahogany (which I have never otherwise heard of) pen turning blanks that have been moistened for the picture

figured mahogany planks

figured mahogany to be used for a guitar

quilted mahogany

quilted guitar sets

two quilted planks and a curly plank in the middle

ropey quilted tropical mahogany

burl veneer

"plum pudding" mahogany but with a very weak figure

dresser and table of plum pudding mahogany --- don't know whether these are solid or veneer, but most likely they are veneer.

plum pudding mahogany veneer

bird's eye mahogany veneer --- I have not otherwise seen the "bird's eye" designation with mahogany which could mean that it's rare or could mean that I'm inexperienced.

Indian mahogany

listed as Brazilian mahogany

bowl blank of unknown mahogany species

planks specifically listed as Nicaraguan mahogany

moistened planks listed as Nicaraguan mahogany

Peruvian mahogany veneer and closeup

Peruvian mahogany veneer with an unlikely color

Peruvian mahogany veneer --- two views and a closeup of the same sheets; it's this kind of color inconsistancy that led me to create this site in the first place.

Peruvian mahogany veneer

both of these are from the BogusColorVendor so the colors are highly suspect

Mexican mahogany

listed as "Yucatan" mahogany

some pics of veneer paneling from a motel in Newark, New Jersey. I'm not sure how much the color has been affected by whatever finish was applied, and I'm not sure what species it is, but the grain is nicely representative of what's available in mahogany.

guitar front made from a crotch area of tropical mahogany

crotch guitar back thinwood

guitar set labeled as just "mahogany"

guitar back and side made from what was listed as "flamed" mahogany, although flamed frequently mean curly, in this case it appears to mean mottled or quilted.

bowls just listed as mahogany

very nice use of a mahogany crotch lumber as the bow of a canoe. This picture was provided by Bill Logan. Thanks Bill.