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Very nice shoptalk episode. Made me want to share my own fellow Cuban-American woodworker story. I'm a Cuban-American whose hobby is woodworking, and my wife's family background is Dominican. My wife's grandfather left her mother her great grandfather's Dominican mahogany parlor furniture set from the early 1900's, which we had shipped to us in the US a few years ago. It was manufactured by Pineiro Furniture, and the 6 pieces were well used and some slightly sun bleached from being in the entry hall, so I decided to restore the finish. Knowing of the rarity of the wood, and the familial connection, I approached the project with a sense of reverence. Though I didn't 'work' the wood, I truly enjoyed finishing it. The first thing that caught my attention was the grain as compared to the average mostly straight-grained Honduran & Philippine mahogany I'd previously worked with for shelves & molding. Sanding it created a soft red dust it almost hurt to vaccum! I decided to use a Sam Maloof finish and even called Maloof woodworking and spoke to Larry to confirm whether I was applying it right! They're better than new (and old) IMO.
While you probably can't claim your family's mahogany furniture from Cuba yet Ed, if you're ever in DR you might want to look for antique pieces made of what the locals know well as 'Caoba Centenaria', and bring a few pieces back with you to rework. It's certainly easier and cheaper than trying to get genuine Cuban or Dominican mahogany lumber. Not sure how you would ensure authenticity without really knowing the market, though. One man's junk...
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