Honduran Mahogany

Honduran Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)
Honduran Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)

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Common Name(s): Honduran Mahogany, Honduras Mahogany,
American Mahogany, Genuine Mahogany, Big-Leaf Mahogany, Brazilian Mahogany

Scientific Name: Swietenia macrophylla

Distribution: From Southern Mexico to central South America;
also commonly grown on plantations

Tree Size: 150-200 ft (46-60 m) tall, 3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 37 lbs/ft3 (590 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .52, .59

Janka Hardness: 900 lbf (4,020 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 11,710 lbf/in2 (80.8 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,458,000 lbf/in2 (10.06 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 6,760 lbf/in2 (46.6 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 2.9%, Tangential: 4.3%, Volumetric: 7.5%, T/R Ratio: 1.5

Color/Appearance: Heartwood color can vary a fair amount with Honduran Mahogany, from a pale pinkish brown, to a darker reddish brown. Color tends to darken with age. Mahogany also exhibits an optical phenomenon known as chatoyancy. (See video below.)

Grain/Texture: Grain can be straight, interlocked, irregular or wavy. Texture is medium and uniform, with moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; mineral deposits occasionally present; growth rings distinct due to marginal parenchyma; rays barely visible without lens; parenchyma banded (marginal), paratracheal parenchyma vasicentric.

Rot Resistance: Varies from moderately durable to very durable depending on density and growing conditions of the tree. (Older growth trees tend to produce darker, heavier, and more durable lumber than plantation-grown stock.) Resistant to termites, but vulnerable to other insects.

Workability: Typically very easy to work with tools: machines well. (With exception to sections with figured grain, which can tearout or chip during machining.) Slight dulling of cutters can occur. Sands very easily. Turns, glues, stains, and finishes well.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Honduran Mahogany has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin and respiratory irritation, as well as less common effects, such as boils, asthma-like symptoms, nausea, giddiness, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Despite export restrictions, Honduran Mahogany continues to be available in lumber or veneer form, possibly from plantations. Prices are in the mid range for an imported hardwood, though it tends to be more expensive than African Mahogany. Figured or quartersawn lumber is more expensive.

Sustainability: This wood species is in CITES Appendix II, and 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: Furniture, cabinetry, turned objects, veneers, musical instruments, boatbuilding, and carving.

Comments: Honduran Mahogany goes by many names, yet perhaps its most accurate and telling name is Genuine Mahogany. Not to be confused with cheaper imitations, such as Philippine Mahogany, Swietenia macrophylla is what most consider to be the real and true species when referring to “Mahogany.”

An incredibly important commercial timber in Latin America, Honduran Mahogany is now grown extensively on plantations. It has been widely exploited, leading to its inclusion on the CITES Appendix II in 2003. In effect, this limits the international exporting of the lumber to certified sustainable sources. (This is also why many lumber retailers located in the United States are unable to ship Honduran Mahogany outside of the country.) Substitutes sometimes used are African Mahogany or Sapele.

Honduran Mahogany’s easy workability, combined with its beauty and phenomenal stability have made this lumber an enduring favorite.

Related Species:

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures:

Honduran Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)
Honduran Mahogany (sanded)
Honduran Mahogany (sealed)
Honduran Mahogany (sealed)
Honduran Mahogany (endgrain)
Honduran Mahogany (endgrain)
Honduran Mahogany (endgrain 10x)
Honduran Mahogany (endgrain 10x)
Honduran Mahogany (sealed)
Honduran Mahogany (quartersawn)
Honduran Mahogany (fiddleback)
Honduran Mahogany (fiddleback)
Honduran Mahogany quartersawn (26" x 4.9")
Honduran Mahogany quartersawn (26″ x 4.9″)
Honduran Mahogany flatsawn (40" x 4.9")
Honduran Mahogany flatsawn (40″ x 4.9″)

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Laurence LibinBrad kingEricCraigOROWoodworks Recent comment authors
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Brad king
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Brad king

I refinish and restore antique furniture. And find that there is a lot very beautiful mahogany prices from the 1800’s. Restored and with a new finish this wood out standing.

Craig
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Craig

Hello, I need an expert to help identifying what type of mahogany I have and will be happy to send pictures. I’m thinking these planks and other boards are Genuine/Honduras mahogany. In 2014 I found the wood stored in an under house garage, the owner told me its been sitting there for at least 30 years. Then as we talked more she told me her husband actually picked it all up 30 years prior when his university was replacing the chapels organ, he was a professor there. Knowing of university I did an internet search of it’s history and found… Read more »

Laurence Libin
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Laurence Libin

Could you give the name of the university in order to learn about the organ that was replaced?

Noppadon
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Noppadon

I have a plan to plant them for building my children’s house. But I’m not sure How old of this tree we can apply from them?
I have heard about them can apply when 15 year.
Is it correct?

OROWoodworks
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According to this: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/255632653_Growth_of_big-leaf_mahogany_Swietenia_macrophylla_in_natural_forests_in_Belize

It will take at least 30-40 years for a mahogany tree to reach the “commercial diameter” of 60 cm for harvesting. So…you could probably get away with harvesting smaller trees, but I doubt you’ll get enough in only 15 years.

emman
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emman

This tree has become an invasive species in the Philippines. Its leaves makes a red mat under the tree that prohibits any growth of the native trees.
I’ve planted several mahogany and I hate myself. Id rather have the fake mahogany (shorea spp.) because it’s native despite being “inferior” in wood quality.

J Cameron Hollis
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J Cameron Hollis

Be very careful with the wood dust if you have a history of any allergies. I ended up in the ER four days in a row before we finally realized it was the mahogany dust from the shelves i was making. It started as just a skin rash on my legs. Over a week this rash get severe. Then it spread to my entire body. Three days later in went into anaphylactic shock. This happened four days in a row. Resilting in four ambulance trips to the ER. It’s crazy to think some wood dust was trying to kill me… Read more »

Larry G. Wilson
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Larry G. Wilson

I build solid body guitars maple cap with mahogany body and need a supplier of 5 – 6 2″ solid single piece body slabs at a time and having a hard time finding one that ships to the U.S.. Any ideas? Thanks, Larry

David trest
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David trest

I got it

Edward Tonner
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Edward Tonner

I have a customer who has inherited a house with honduras mahogany double-hung windows, they have been neglected for some years externally. What would be the best treatment for them, trying to keep the natural colour as best one can.