Cuban Mahogany Box

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Project by CharlieM1958 posted 02-23-2009 12:13 AM 2272 views 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Nothing special about this tiny business card holder box except the wood. Unfortunately, the photos don’t do it justice. But there is a story….

A friend of mine (older gentleman) who knows I’m into woodworking, gave me a chunk of Cuban mahogany about 6” x 6” x 7/8”. He told me has had about 40 bf sitting in his attic for the last 30 years, which he bought from another old fellow who was sitting on a huge supply.

It seems this fellow (the original owner) was around back in the day when this species grew wild in a very speciific area of south Florida. A major highway was being constructed, and the last stand of this timber in the U.S. was being clear cut and burned. (This was just post WWII, before much was being done in the way of conservation). So this guy bought an old surplus army halftrack, and followed the road clearing crew around salvaging as many of the logs as he could handle.

This is probably the most exquisite lumber I’ve ever worked with. It’s dense and heavy, but it machines well. Rip a piece and the cut feels smooth as glass. I ripped the chunk into 3 pieces 2” x 6” x 7/8”, then I resawed those 3 pieces into 6 pieces 3/8” thick on the table saw. Resawing exposed a beautiful, multi-colored interior, visible on the underside of the lid. I just can’t describe the wonderful color and texture of this wood. As I said, the photos just don’t capture it.

I gave my friend the box this morning, and told him “Here, I thougt it was time to return that piece of wood you lent me.” He was thrilled. I’m hoping he “lends” me some more. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

21 comments so far

View firecaster's profile


574 posts in 4496 days

#1 posted 02-23-2009 12:23 AM

Wow, what a great story. And what a shame that it’s gone.

At least the American Chestnut was a natural disaster.

-- Father of two sons. Both Eagle Scouts.

View Allison's profile


820 posts in 4876 days

#2 posted 02-23-2009 12:40 AM

Yes, I hope he does lend you some more! Great project as always!

-- Allison, Northeastern Ca. Remember, Amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic!

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 4845 days

#3 posted 02-23-2009 12:49 AM

Charlie, you are truly the Box Master! I sure would like to have one for my business cards. Thanks for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5066 days

#4 posted 02-23-2009 01:33 AM

Nice job Charlie.

The wood looks like the Santos Mahogany I used for the sides of my step stool. Maybe it’s the same thing with a different name.

Click for details

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Karson's profile


35273 posts in 5478 days

#5 posted 02-23-2009 01:43 AM

Charlie A great looking box. Ask you friend for the other guys name and number.

I hate for anyone to hoard all of the lumber.

A nice little box.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4900 days

#6 posted 02-23-2009 01:43 AM

Charlie this is a gorgeous box and a wonderful story to go with it.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5296 days

#7 posted 02-23-2009 02:40 AM

Thanks, Y’all!

Gary: There is a similarity in appearance to Santos mahogany, but I did some research, and it is a different speicies altogether. Santos grows from Mexico all the way down through South America. Cuban is only found in the Carribbean vicinity. Due to its rarity, Cuban mahogany is not commercially logged anywhere. You can only get it from plantation-raised trees. The Cuban mahogany that used to grow in southern Florida (now completely non-existant) was the most prized variety of all, because the heavy limestone content of the soil made the trees slower-growing and denser than those found in the islands.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4751 days

#8 posted 02-23-2009 03:44 AM

Thats a nice box.

View griff's profile


1207 posts in 4840 days

#9 posted 02-23-2009 03:51 AM

Beautiful little box Charlie, and the story is great. Very good build

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View oldwoodman's profile


137 posts in 4476 days

#10 posted 02-23-2009 07:27 AM

Stories like yours just prove once again that truth is “more fascinating” than fiction. And the box is gorgeous.

View TraumaJacques's profile


433 posts in 4578 days

#11 posted 02-23-2009 07:43 AM

Great story and very nice box.

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20801 posts in 4753 days

#12 posted 02-23-2009 07:47 AM

Great story. Good luck on the treasure acquisition:-) Everytime I see a slash pile, I wonder what treasures are going to waste in there??

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View SteveKorz's profile


2140 posts in 4792 days

#13 posted 02-23-2009 08:23 AM

Wow, Charlie that wood looks great. Great story too…

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View odie's profile


1692 posts in 4918 days

#14 posted 02-23-2009 10:06 AM

You’re not only sexy, but you do great work too.

-- Odie, Confucius say, "He who laughs at one's self is BUTT of joke". (my funny blog)

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4519 days

#15 posted 02-23-2009 11:48 AM

And I bet you will never reveal the location of the rest of the stash, you,ll just bring some out occasionaly to make the rest of us insanely jealous!

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

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