Sapele is in the same family as Mahogany and the same genus as Utile, with a distinctive figure. Hailing from Africa, Sapele is a large tree that can grow to 180’ with diameters over 6’, and contains an interlocking grain that produces light and dark ribbon stripes throughout the boards. Sapele is commonly quartersawn to enhance these attractive ribbons, and it is often used as a veneer for plywood in this application.
Despite the wood’s many positive attributes, the cost for Sapele lumber is usually around half of that of Genuine Mahogany, and also tends to cost less than Utile. These factors help make Sapele a very popular lumber species for use in a wide variety of interior and exterior applications.
Scientific Name: Entandrophragma Cylindricum
Properties: Sapele is brown-red in color with rotary cut faces. Although not a true mahogany, Sapele has similar properties and is sometimes called Sapele Mahogany or Gaboon. It is a medium hard wood in the same class as oak and harder than mahogany. It is made with Class 3 exterior gluing and complies to BS1088 and the Lloyd’s Register Type Approved. It is not difficult to work with but may tear during planing. Sapele glues and finishes well and has a natural luster. The wood has a density of 640 kg per cubic metre.
Common Uses – Sought after for its durability and beautiful graining, Sapele is used in a wide variety of applications including fine furniture, musical instruments, cabinetry, flooring, countertops, doors , boat building and veneer. It is also used by American car maker Cadillac for interior wood trim on its vehicles, with advertising for the Cadillac CTS highlighting the phrase “Sapele wood accents.”
Common Names: Sapele, African Mahogany, Gaboon
Workability: Sapele is moderately durable and works fairly well with all tools. Woodworkers find Sapele saws without difficulty, however, the interlocked grain tends to tear easily in planning. Sapele finishes well, with good gluing and nailing properties. It stains well and is suited to a variety of finishes retaining its color over time. If using Sapele plywood panels outside, particular care must be taken to ensure the edges and faces are sealed to be completely watertight.
Thicknesses Available: In stock from 1/4″ through 10/4. Larger thicknesses available on special order.
Widths Available: Tons in stock up to 14″, available in both ribbon grain and flat cut.
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