Source International – Manufacturing Materials – Learning Center
Mahogany is a type of straight-grained, reddish-brown wood produced from one of three tropical hardwood species of the genus Swietenia. This timber is indigenous to North and South America and exists in three main species: West Indian or Cuban (Sweitenia macrophylla), Honduran or big-leaf (Sweitenia mahagoni), and Sweitenia humuilis. The three species noted above are classified as genuine Mahogany, however it should be noted there are other species of the Meliaceae variety which are known as true Mahogany. Such true varieties can be found in Africa, New Zealand, China, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines.
This material is known for its durability, color, robustness, and beauty. It is mainly commercially used for furniture, boats, musical instruments, paneling, and decorative items. The US and Britain are the leading two importers of this fine wood, while the largest exporter is Peru. Mahogany is currently being over-harvested in many countries leading to countries such as Brazil to place on ban on exports of the timber.†
As this valuable material is becoming harder and harder to source as well as more expensive, much of the world’s Mahogany is now used to manufacture a veneer product in which inferior quality timber is covered with a thin layer of Mahogany. This composite is then glued together, retaining most of the desirable characteristics of the prized material in question. The composite form of this material allows for cost savings while retaining the overall aesthetic qualities of the wood itself.
Fun Fact: Mahogany is the national tree of the Dominican Republic and Belize.