INFERIOR RELATIVE OF MAHOGANY
Sapele might be considered as a utility substitute for mahogany, and indeed it belongs to the same Meliaceae family. It has a similar color and a fairly straight grain, but rather unattractive dark bands. However, the species is favored when the figuring is
good. Not surprisingly, it is used largely as a veneer for the manufacture of office furniture or store interiors, and in the solid for joinery, particularly doors. Though the texture is relatively fine and even, the grain can be interlocking and awkward to
Type Tropical hardwood
Alternatives Mahogany (Swietenia species), jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata), Red River gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
Color Medium red-brown, with richer, darker bands
Texture Fine to medium
Grain Fairly straight, though some wood is wavy and interlocking
Hardness Soft for a hardwood
Weight Medium (39 lb./cu. ft.) (620 kg/cu. m)
Strength Not strong, with a tendency to buckle
Seasoning and stability Prone to distortion during seasoning, especially if rapid, and to some movement once dry.
Range of board widths Good
Range of board thicknesses Good
There is some ribbon figuring on quartersawn cuts, with some fiddleback or even mottling, both of which are used for veneers.
The status varies from one country to another, and deserves research, but there is little evidence of certified supplies.
AVAILABILITY AND COST
Mainly available as plywood, but can be bought in the solid from specialist importers of exotics. Prices are mid-range.