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My Cuban mahogany adventure

comments (6) April 22nd, 2009 in blogs

MKenney Matthew Kenney, senior editor
thumbs up 6 users recommend

This came from a limb? At 1 1/4 in. thick, 14 in. wide, and 39 in. long, this board shows just how big a mahogany tree can get, because it came from a limb. And its not like limb wood from other species. Its flat and true, and has been for almost 6 years now.
Littel board, big charm. This little guy is 1 in. thick by 10 1/2 in. wide by 25 in. long. I love the color and the figure.
This came from a limb? At 1 1/4 in. thick, 14 in. wide, and 39 in. long, this board shows just how big a mahogany tree can get, because it came from a limb. And its not like limb wood from other species. Its flat and true, and has been for almost 6 years now. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

This came from a limb? At 1 1/4 in. thick, 14 in. wide, and 39 in. long, this board shows just how big a mahogany tree can get, because it came from a limb. And it's not like limb wood from other species. It's flat and true, and has been for almost 6 years now.

Photo: Matt Kenney

I've been working on an article that profiles several types of mahogany (look for it in Fine Woodworking #207). The king of mahoganies, of course, is Cuban mahogany (swientenia mahogoni). It has been commercially extinct for about 100 years. And it completely disappeared from the US market around 1950. It is protected by an international treaty, so what still grows in the Carribean and South Florida can't be cut down. However, you can salvage deadfall, and occasionally prune living trees that pose some kind of hazard.

Mark Butler lives in the Florida Keys, and runs a small lumbermill there. (Check out his website.) He salvages trees that grow in the Keys, like Cuban mahogany. Well, I needed a sample board for the article and gave him a call. I then got to thinking, "Would I ever call up on my own and buy some Cuban mahogany?" Of course I wouldn't. So, I took the opporutnity and ordered some for myself. Strike while the iron is hot, right?

I'm glad I did. It is truly beautiful. Its pores are tiny and it is dense (read: really heavy). It has a charming, rich brown color, and its grain is subtle, but handsome. To be honest, I think of those "Most Interesting Man in the World" commercials when I see it, because this stuff is so sauve, good looking, and mysterious. Yes, I must admit, I have a crush on my Cuban mahogany.

I haven't milled any up yet. I'm somewhat afraid to. It's such a rare wood nowadays, and expensive. But I do have a plan for it, and this summer I will put it to good use. I'll report back on how it planes and saws (handcut dovetails). And then show pictures of the finished piece.



posted in: blogs, mahogany, Cuban


Comments (6)

Subtropicalhardwoods Subtropicalhardwoods writes: I have some incredible pieces of Cuban mahogany for sale. All sizes 1 piece is 36" wide x 13.5' long cut at 16/4 seems like the biggest one around ! We also have tons of smaller pieces crotchwood and so on. All cut in south Florida and air dried. Give me a call 305.218.6288 or email Jason@tree-huggers.com we have pictures upon request.

We also carry some other interesting slabs,blocks, mantels or square stock!
Posted: 5:18 pm on March 17th

BSander2 BSander2 writes: I would love to get my hands on some of that wood!
I found some Cuban Mahogany for sale somewhere in Tampa, Florida.
They have some air dried with pictures here: http://www.craftsmensupply.com/index.php/products/urban-lumber/cuban-mahogany/
Posted: 10:08 am on July 11th

Inabird1949 Inabird1949 writes: I have some Cuban Mahogany for sale. I use to live in Puerto Rico & when Hurrican Hugo struck the island in 1989 the Forest Service was selling tree trunks. At the time we were building our house & I went to purchase wood. It was amazing walking around the forest with trees fallen all over the place. I just kept buying trees. I then paid the Forest Service to cut them into planks. I had them cut into 3/4" thick as well as 1 1/2" thick. The widest plank is 11 1/2". Most of them are over 12 feet long.

The Cuban Mahogany has been traveling around with us from Puerto Rico to Indiana, to Penna., & now to New Jersey where we are living. I have use some of this wood to build shelves, picture frames, & a small music box. The wood is absolutely beautiful! If anyone would like to discuss purchasing some of it please feel free to e-mail me at ribcab@verizon.net.
Posted: 8:51 pm on November 8th

magnolia56 magnolia56 writes: I, too, purchased some Cuban mahogany from Mark Butler. He was very helpful in trying to put just the right wood in my hands--wood I would be happy with. I'm still waiting for delivery, but my fingers are already itching.
Posted: 3:51 pm on September 25th

MKenney MKenney writes: I'm making a bow front wall cabinet from Madrone. The Cuban mahogany is for a bank of drawer fronts. The deep brown of the mahogany should compliment the deep pinkish red of the Madrone (and there's a nice brown streak separating the sap and heart wood).
Posted: 9:46 pm on April 22nd

MBerger MBerger writes: What are you going to use it for?

Posted: 7:21 pm on April 22nd

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