African Mahogany (Khaya senegalensis)
African Mahogany (Khaya senegalensis)

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Common Name(s): African Mahogany

Scientific Name: Khaya spp. (Khaya anthotheca, K. grandifoliola, K. ivorensis, K. senegalensis)

Distribution: West tropical Africa

Tree Size: 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 40 lbs/ft3 (640 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .52, .64

Janka Hardness: 1,070 lbf (4,760 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 13,190 lbf/in2 (91.0 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,537,000 lbf/in2 (10.60 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 7,100 lbf/in2 (49.0 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.2%, Tangential: 5.7%, Volumetric: 10.0%, T/R Ratio: 1.4

Color/Appearance: Heartwood color is variable, ranging from a very pale pink to a deeper reddish brown, sometimes with streaks of medium to dark reddish brown. Color tends to darken with age. Quartersawn surfaces can also exhibit a ribbon-stripe appearance.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight to interlocked, with a medium to coarse texture. Good natural luster with a light-refracting optical phenomenon known as chatoyancy. (See video below.)

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large to very large pores, very few; solitary and radial multiples; orange/brown deposits occasionally present; growth rings usually indistinct, though sometimes distinct due to terminal parenchyma; rays medium to wide, fairly close spacing; parenchyma scanty to vasicentric, and occasionally marginal (not typical for Khaya spp.).

Rot Resistance: Rated as moderately durable; moderate to poor insect/borer resistance.

Workability: Easy to work, glue, and finish. Tearout can sometimes be a problem if the grain is interlocked.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, African Mahogany has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Readily available in a variety of lumber sizes, as well as plywood and veneer. Prices are low to moderate for an imported hardwood.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.

Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, turned items, furniture, boatbuilding, and interior trim.

Comments: Comprised of a handful of species from the Khaya genus, all of which are native to Africa. Sometimes lacks the deeper reddish brown color  and durability that is common for true mahogany in the Swietenia genus. Botanically, Khaya is a part of the Meliaceæ family, which not only includes mahoganies, but also Sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum), and a host of other commercial species. Considered to be a valid substitute for Honduran Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), otherwise known as “Genuine Mahogany.”

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the turned photo of this wood species.

African Mahogany (sanded)
African Mahogany (sanded)
African Mahogany (sealed)
African Mahogany (sealed)
African Mahogany (endgrain)
African Mahogany (endgrain)
African Mahogany (endgrain 10x)
African Mahogany (endgrain 10x)
African Mahogany (turned)
African Mahogany (turned)

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Tony Hernandez III

How long does the African Mahogany take to completely dry? Is there anything we can do to speed up the process?


A turned bowl from African mahogany

leonard mishoe

I Have African mahogany exterior doors That have been exposed to the Sun for 12 years Sanding on them only makes them redder when I’m looking for a light Brown anybody have any ideas

Ben R

In my experience, most oil finishes (like a natural watco danish oil) darken african mahogany.

Roger johnson

I am making neck assemblies for violins and will need to know if this would will be hard enough to sustain long use of violin pegs. Violins necks are usually made of hard maple and I have a lot of mahogany I think it’s African mahogany and would like to know if anyone has used them for this purpose and also what is the hardness of mahogany versus Hard maple?

Jonas Daverio

In Europe, it’s not made of hard maple but of (curly) sycomore maple, which isn’t that hard. Maybe that could help you…


I use it for guitar necks successfully

D. Weaver

It is not nearly as hard or as stiff as hard maple. The “sycamore maple” mentioned below may be something like london plane tree (which is either a maple family wood or a hybrid). That is also harder than khaya. Khaya is somewhat coarse grained (it’s very musical, though) and can splinter much more easily than honduran mahogany. I’ve made guitars out of both and made guitar necks out of curly hard maple – khaya and honduran (honduran and cuban can both vary a lot in density) are not similar to hard maple. I think you will get a different… Read more »

Don Ruthig

I have used khaya for several fiurniture projects as a substitute for “true” mahogany. I’ve turned it for columns and finials, and have carved it for ball and claw feet and relief carvings. This wood is tricky, particularly for carving. That pretty ribbon grain presents real problems for a carver. There are areas where it carves beautifully, with consistent density and even grain. Then there are areas that are “chippy” and don’t carve well from any direction. They provide a wonderful opportunity to perfect ones slicing cut. The end result is usually well worth the frustration but know going in… Read more »

rob kulp

I used mahogany to trim out 4 cedar exterior pergola posts. I want to know if the mahagony will turn gray over time as the posts have? The wood was not sealed. If not can they be stained to a gray tone? thanks.