Are you a wood snob?

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Project by maplerock posted 12-07-2013 07:46 PM 2972 views 7 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I love mahogany. I love the color, the grain, the way it takes a finish… it is good stuff! Unfortunately I don’t make many boxes out of mahogany for two reasons. One, I don’t have a good source, and two, it is expensive.

That’s why I recruited mahogany’s cousin for this project. This is Sapele. Sapele is a reddish-brown wood that in many ways is very similar to Mahogany. A remarkable feature of sapele is that the grain is interlocked and changes direction in frequent, irregular intervals. Before WWI the principal demand for this wood came from Germany where it was used for decorative cabinet work. Interestingly enough, sapele was found in the propeller-blades of German Zeppelins. Sapele is also one of Europe’s most desired woods in manufacturing doors, windows and hardwood flooring. It has a wide variety of applications and is very popular as a decorative surface veneer for high-grade furniture such as book cases and cabinets. It is a great alternative to genuine Mahogany. (That’s from the description on East Teak’s website.)

Check out the grain up close:

This box is about 11 ” x 7×5 high. It was finished with 1 coat of tung oil and 6 coats of wipe on poly. Then a coat of Johnson’s paste wax. A lot of finish work, but my wife does it. :-)

It is a sweet wood. I found this from a local lumberyard in a pile of “shorts” for $2 a board ft. This is a simple design, with a curly maple top and maple splines. It came out very well. I hope you like it, and when you want a classy, upscale look, don’t be a wood snob… give the lesser known and less expensive cousin a chance

I’ve been pretty busy in the shop as you can see, but I love to read your comments! They are always appreciated!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

22 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30609 posts in 3387 days

#1 posted 12-07-2013 07:55 PM

Very beautiful work. Clean and classy.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View MontanaBob's profile


874 posts in 3733 days

#2 posted 12-07-2013 08:00 PM

Really like the color—-—- wood combo…. Outstanding..

View mariva57's profile


666 posts in 3054 days

#3 posted 12-07-2013 08:06 PM

Excellent box, compliments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- The common man thinks. The wise man is silent. The stupid man discusses.

View .'s profile


76 posts in 4847 days

#4 posted 12-07-2013 08:19 PM

Very nice. Please tell us about your photography setup to get these shots. Thanks

View Boxguy's profile


2894 posts in 3317 days

#5 posted 12-07-2013 09:22 PM

Jerry, this is lovely work. I really like the color combination. Maple makes an ideal pairing with Sapele. Sapele is one of my favorite woods to work with. I even enjoy its rich spice-like smell. The proportions and feel of this box are a pleasure to the eye and a joy to the touch. You have not just been busy; you have been frantic! Really nice job on that close up shot. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View bygrace's profile


198 posts in 3019 days

#6 posted 12-07-2013 11:43 PM

Love the box and the wood. I’m just learning about hardwoods and appreciate the information. Question: do you use a bandsaw to cut the tops off of your boxes? I don’t have one so I use my tablesaw and struggle to get a clean cut away. I was wondering if a bandsaw would solve that problem.

-- Andy, Waxahachie, Tx.

View Picken5's profile


327 posts in 3741 days

#7 posted 12-08-2013 01:35 AM

Nice job, Jerry. I love your boxes.

-- Howard - "Time spent making sawdust is not deducted from one's lifetime." - old Scottish proverb

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 2922 days

#8 posted 12-08-2013 01:39 AM

Thanks for the background information about historical uses of Sapele. I love that sort of detail. It is beautiful grain.

-- Dave K.

View Woodbridge's profile


3744 posts in 3467 days

#9 posted 12-08-2013 01:53 AM

beautiful wood and a great looking box.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4358 days

#10 posted 12-08-2013 02:00 AM

What a really nice wood choice for that great looking box…makes a lot of difference.

View maplerock's profile


529 posts in 2849 days

#11 posted 12-08-2013 04:24 AM

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your comments.

Tucker: I have a pretty simple setup. I had a photography business and have some studio lights. I mounted three of them on a rafter in my garage illuminating a white background. I set the boxes on a table and use an on camera flash as well. So… 4 lights.

You can read about it at this link:

Bygrace: I use a table saw. Boxguy taught me how. He has a nice tutorial on how to achieve a smooth cut: It is tricky, but the secret is to leave that thin amount of wood on the last two cuts… then cut the sections apart. I then sand/plane off the extra wood. I think a bandsaw would work if you had a good blade and a tall fence, and had a way to sand the edges afterward.

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 3562 days

#12 posted 12-08-2013 02:07 PM

Very nice box and grouping of boxes thanks for the info on the Sapele, for a sec I thought it was the same breed of wood that I’ve been buying from my local lumber yard, what I buy is what’s called Sipo Mahogany from south America but only at around $4.00 a BF which ain’t too bad, what I consider to be expensive from my local supplier is Walnut and Mesquite both are at $11.00 plus a BF. Jerry that Sapele, after looking it up I found what you stated but it is labeled in the same family as Mahogany from what I read.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View maplerock's profile


529 posts in 2849 days

#13 posted 12-08-2013 02:56 PM

Thanks Randy. Well, a cousin is in the same family :-)

I wish I was better at wood identification. I have trouble once I get past walnut, oak, cedar, pine, and maple. I’m saving a small piece of all of my cut offs to label and use for reference. I often need to ask people “what the heck is this box made out of” after I build one. I just finished one and I had no idea what kind of top I put on it!

I recently bought The Wood Bible and another book on wood identification. Gotta study up a bit!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4635 days

#14 posted 12-08-2013 03:34 PM

I actually prefer sapele to mahogany nice to have abit of grain for a change. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Arcola60's profile


111 posts in 3433 days

#15 posted 12-08-2013 04:47 PM

I have used Sapele for some end grain cutting boards. In another board, I used Mahogany. I agree with SCOTSMAN, I prefer Sapele to mahogany.
Beautiful work on the boxes you have created, excellent detail. Thank you for sharing your work with us.

Ellery Becnel

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