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Mahogany vs. Cherry: Pros, Cons & Differences

mahogany vs cherry

Woodworking can be a great deal of fun, and it’s incredibly rewarding. However, it’s not always easy to know what type of wood to use if you are a beginner. Two of the most popular options are mahogany and cherry. If you are wondering what the better option is, keep reading as we take a closer look at both kinds of wood and their advantages and disadvantages.

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Overview of Mahogany

mahogany wood
Image Credit: optimarc, Shutterstock

What It Is

Mahogany comes in several varieties, including Philippine mahogany, African mahogany, mountain mahogany, and Cuban mahogany. African mahogany is one of the most popular varieties, with a pale-pink to dark-red color that darkens with age. The tree usually grows more than 100 feet tall and can produce more than 40 pounds of dried wood. A downside of mahogany is that the harvesting and transporting it to America puts a great deal of strain on the environment.

What It’s Good For

Mahogany is extremely popular because it’s readily available and inexpensive. It’s a softer hardwood that is easy to cut and shape, making it a good choice for furniture. Doors, windows, trimming, shelving, boats, instruments, and other objects are also perfect for mahogany. The downside is that it isn’t as hard as other hardwoods, so it’s not a good choice for high-traffic flooring or other surfaces that get a great deal of use. It’s also difficult for outdoor projects because the softer wood is not that resistant to insects.

Mahogany cabinet
Image Credit: Pixabay
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to find
  • Easy to shape
  • Not hard enough for flooring
  • Not resistant to insects
  • Harder on the environment

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Overview of Cherry

man cutting cherry wood
Image Credit: Serz_72, Shutterstock

What It Is

Cherry is an extremely popular wood that many people choose because of its color. Like mahogany, its color darkens from a light gold pink to a dark red. Exposure to light is what woodworkers call ripening, and it darkens the color. It darkens quickly during the first 6 months, but the process can continue for several years. It has a smooth, close-grain pattern, and a single board can have contrasting grain, increasing its appeal.

What It’s Good For

Since cherry trees are popular in America, they are easy to find at any hardware store, and the wood is usually not too expensive. It’s a hardwood that is more resistant to dents and scratches than mahogany, making it a great choice for furniture, cabinets, and accessories like bowls, mixing spoons, picture frames, etc. Though it’s harder than mahogany, it’s still not as good a choice for flooring as other hardwoods like maple and oak, which are much harder.

  • Easy to find
  • Inexpensive
  • Deep color
  • Durable
  • Not hard enough for flooring
  • Not as easy to shape

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What Are the Differences?

The primary difference between mahogany and cherry is that cherry is harder, so it will be more resistant to damage. Mahogany is softer, so it’s easier to work with and shape. It also has a more stable color based on the tree’s age when cut instead of light exposure. However, both varieties are easy to find, are inexpensive, and look fantastic. They are easier to work with than some other hardwoods, like maple or oak, while remaining more durable than pine, hemlock, alder, and cedar.

Which Is Right for You?

If you are a beginner working on your first few projects, mahogany is likely the better choice because it’s easier to shape and cut. It will hold up well for furniture, shelving, molding, picture frames, and more. The color looks nice even without staining, and it’s easy to find. Once you gain more experience, cherry is a good choice for creating objects that you frequently handle, like wooden bowls, mixing spoons, door stops, and tabletops. It’s also a good choice for furniture because the color is attractive, but you will need to prepare for it to darken over time, especially if it sees a large amount of sunlight.

man chooses and buys plywood in a construction supermarket
Image Credit: Sergey Ryzhov, Shutterstock
When to Use Mahogany
  • When you are a beginner
  • Furniture and shelving
  • Musical instruments
  • Wood carving
When to Use Cherry
  • For added durability
  • Furniture
  • Bowls and spoons
  • Tables and countertops

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Both mahogany and cherry are excellent choices for beginner and advanced woodworkers. They are easy to work with, easy to find, and inexpensive. Mahogany is softer, so it’s great for beginners and wood-carving projects while remaining strong and attractive enough to use for furniture, including chairs and tables. Many people also use mahogany to build musical instruments. Cherry is harder, so it’s good for creating objects that get a great deal of use and that might get scratched or dented with softer wood. It’s also attractive and durable, so it’s a good choice for furniture and even countertops.

Featured Image Credit: Left Mahogany: Jason Gilkes, Shutterstock | Right: Cherry: mahc, Shutterstock


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