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Swietenia macrophylla

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.

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