Since bigleaf (genuine) mahogany is such a popular wood,
it is often used as a comparative standard in describing
other woods. In reality, though, this timber is extremely
variable. Its color can range
from light grayish-tan to "mahogany" red. Because of this variability, a
lot of look-alike woods have been successfully marketed as
mahogany. Although not an absolutely reliable clue, true
mahogany can usually be identified
by its storied rays. On the flatsawn surfaces, short but
dark ray flecks end to form
wavy horizontal bands across the board. Owing to its extreme
variability in terms of density, its strength properties
are also quite variable. At the low extreme, bigleaf mahogany
is barely adequate for use
in some furniture applications.
Genuine mahogany ranks among the finest cabinetry woods in the world. Its working characteristics are outstanding in nearly all woodworking processes, including cutting,
shaping, turning and sanding. Due to its moderately coarse texture, filling may be necessary in order to achieve a glass smooth finish, but genuine mahogany accommodates
virtually all finishing methods.
Uses include fine furniture, interior trim, paneling, cabinetry, turning, carving, model making, veneer and boat building.