Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla King) is widespread and diverse. It flourishes in the rainforests of Central America, South America and Mexico. Mahogany trees are large and grow relatively fast compared to other hardwoods. Its availability, workability and the fact that mahogany is a renewable resource make it a good choice for woodworkers, builders, hobbyists, luthiers and carvers.

Hardwood door
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Mahogany front door.

Hardness and Workability

The Janka scale ranks hardwoods for density and hardness, with 10 being the hardest. Mahogany ranks 6 on the Janka scale. Mahogany is relatively light when compared to oak or maple, and is easier to mill or cut than most other hardwoods. Unlike other hardwoods that can be brittle, mahogany is straight-grained and resilient. It's less likely to shatter or crack than other hardwoods.

Aesthetics and Uses

Mahogany ranges from brown to dark red to an orange tint, depending on where it's grown. It's consistently straight, with few variations in grain patterns. it's used extensively for furniture, high-end trim work, solid-wood doors and flooring, among other uses. Luthiers prize it for consistently rich tone when used for guitar bodies. The somewhat plain quality of mahogany can be brought to life with the application of stain and a clear finish.