What is Sapele Wood? Properties, Characteristics & Uses
Most people have a tendency toward a particular type of wood. If you are a person that is fond of oak or cherry wood, the availability is usually not a problem. If you like mahogany, however, you know the rarity of genuine mahogany wood from Central and South America. Many woodworking hobbyists, cabinet and musical instrument makers, and DIYers are choosing to use sapele wood from Africa as an alternative.
What is Sapele Wood?
Sapele wood comes from the sapele tree of West African countries, including Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana. The reddish-brown wood darkens with age, like mahogany. It is also durable and has similar grain patterns.
Sapele wood, also referred to as sapele mahogany, is increasing in popularity. It can be used for interior or exterior projects and has many similarities to mahogany. Like other tropical woods, sapele is resistant to insects, weather, and rot. Sapele can be waxed, oiled, stained, polished and varnished.
Widespread across Africa, the sapele is a natural hardwood tree ranging in height from 100–150 ft tall. The grain in the wood from a sapele tree is straight, wide, and long. The quilted and wavy patterns in the grain give the wood an exotic look. However, the interlocking grain of the wood can cause tear-outs when you are using a router or planer on the wood.
The durability and weather-resistant properties make it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture and building boats. Sapele is also popular among electric and acoustic guitar manufacturers.
If you are considering an indoor or outdoor project, sapele is a quality wood that will give your project an exotic look at a fraction of the cost of mahogany. Sapele is a fantastic choice for projects that are big or small!
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Featured Image Credit: Roberto Pascual Gomez, Shutterstock