Sapele Mahogany is a tropical hardwood species native to Africa. It is a medium-density timber with a fine texture and a moderately interlocked or wavy grain. The heartwood of Sapele is initially pink in color, but darkens to a red-brown or purple-brown hue upon exposure to air. It is known for its attractive range of figure, which includes ribbon and regular stripe on quarter sawn boards, fiddleback, mottle, or roe on other cuts. Sapele is generally consistent in color and grain, though individual boards may vary in appearance. It is a good choice for painting, and is a versatile wood species suitable for a variety of applications, including doors, windows, mouldings, facias, and cover fillets.
Scented Mahogany, Aboudikro, Sapele Mahogany, Penkra, Sapelli, Saplelewood
The heartwood of Sapele is moderately durable but is resistant to preservative treatment. The sapwood is vulnerable to the power-post beetle, and is moderately resistant to preservative treatment. Sapele is a good performer for external joinery and is relatively stable in service, needs to be painted or stained (and coats well). For areas of high exposure - consider a more durable hardwood.
The drying and seasoning of Sapele is dependant on a number of factors; the speed in which it is processed after felling and logging, the method of drying and the specific kilns or location (if air dried). Generally the care taken by those processing the wood will have an impact on its drying and seasoning. As an overview; Sapele - It dries quickly and is prone to distortion, although this is less of a problem with quarter sawn timber sections. There is a medium movement in use. Please note that all wood is liable to move when in service plus there can be dimensional change. The extent of this will depend on; the stability of the species itself, the conditions it is exposed to, the coating, decoration and protection. You will find more information about the suitability of this wood, for any proposed application, by using our interactive system and the filters shown.
Sapele has medium resistance to shock loads, medium bending strength, high crushing strength, low stiffness and poor steam-bending properties. It works well with both hand and machine tools, with a tolerable blunting effect on cutting edges. Sapele planes and moulds easily. It drills, routers, carves, nails, screws, stains, varnishes and paints well. Sapele glues fairly well. It sands very well and can be brought to an excellent polished finish.
Furniture and cabinetmaking, musical instruments, office furniture, kitchen cabinets, doors, stairs, window frames, boats, flooring and sports goods. Decorative veneer from choice logs is used for marquetry, panelling and cabinetwork. Sapele is also rotary-cut for plywood.
Mahogany (Sapele is part of this family) is a strong wood. Its spiritual properties include healing of the emotions and spirit. It can help you grow spiritually and provide guidance.
Considered vulnerable by The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (this was last assessed in 1998 and considerable changes in awareness and more stringent forestry controls may have had an impact and the results of the latest assessment are due soon) for more information and latest updates please visit http://www.iucnredlist.org and type in the botanical name of the species into the search box. It should also be noted that one unintentional shortcoming of the Red List is that it only considers the risk of extinction; broader issues dealing with habitat destruction or deforestation are not considered. Also, it does not necessarily take into account the maturity of the trees (i.e., centuries-old trees are cut down, and subsequently replanted with saplings) Therefore we hope that further assessments will consider this long term commitment to re-growth.The reason that Sapele is considered is a risk is due to; it has been heavily exploited throughout its range. Genetic erosion caused by the large-scale depletion of mature individuals from populations has taken place in some countries
Wood Worker's Thoughts:
Stress factures' can be present. But a nice timber to work with.
Brazilian and African mahogany is challenging to source these days so Sapele offers a good alternative and is from the same 'family'. Another alternative to consider is Utile.
Commonly asked questions about Sapele Wood
Is Sapele a hardwood or a softwood? Sapele is a hardwood. It is the same for; is Sapele hardwood or softwood? - Sapele is a hardwood.
Most groups/families of species share the same characteristics but this normally relates to their life as plants. Individual species do not always share the same characteristics as their relatives, in terms of the wood. Many factors influence how we use the wood and what we use it for, including where it grows, how it is forested, how it seasons/dries, etc. The answers to the following common questions, therefore relate to this particular species/wood and not the Sapele family as a whole. Even more specific – our answers relate to the wood (as we know it) in its form as a useable resource.
What colour is Sapele? Sapele can be described as brown, dark red, red
Is Sapele good for outdoor use? or is Sapele good for exterior use? Sapele is most suited for exterior/external use. Sapele can be used as an exterior/external timber (without treatment).
Whether the wood is naturally durable or not we would still recommend that it is decorated and/or coated with a suitable product to provide protection and/or maintain its appearance. This even applies when using the wood internally as, even subtle, changes in temperature or humidity will affect the wood. This will depend on the application/purpose of the wood and the user’s desired appearance. We also recommend that a recoating, care and maintenance programme is adhered to, for the life of an exterior wood. Wood cannot rot if it is kept dry – coatings and decoration can provide this protection. All of that said there are many durable timbers that are often left to weather naturally and will last for many years untreated/coated – movement and visual changes will occur but this is sometimes the desired effect. All wood is hygroscopic (it 'wants' to be in tune with its environment) it will therefore take on water from moisture in the air (or when directly exposed to or submerged in water) and ‘release it’ when dry or exposed to heat. This, inevitably, results in movement and dimensional change. For more about moisture in wood please click here - Moisture in wood