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Which Type of Mahogany

PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:52 am
by peteburrs
Looking for some direction on which type of marine grade mahogany plywood is the correct one to purchase.

Quartered/rift sliced


Rotary cut

Or is there something else I should be looking for?

Re: Which Type of Mahogany

PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:02 am
by LancerBoy
I have used both Okume and Meranti. Wasn't aware you could get "mahogany" marine plywood. The original boat most likely utilized Philippine mahogany.


Re: Which Type of Mahogany

PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:52 am
by Dan Salins
The term "mahogany" has come to be a catch-all for several species of wood, some of which aren't true mahoganies at all. If you ask for mahogany at a lumber yard you may get meranti, okume, sepele, philippine or any number of other species which have fallen under the "mahogany" umbrella. The terms ribbon-stripe (or ribbon cut), quarter sawn, rift, and rotary refer to how the veneer is cut from the log. Back in the 50's and 60's, ribbon cut philippine mahogany (which technically is not a mahogany) was most generally used on boats, as it was cheap, plentiful and the straight, parallel grain displayed by the cut yielded a beautiful, shimmery type of look when finished. Sometimes it's referred to as fiddle-back because it was used on the back of violins also. Thanks to decades of less-than-environmentally-friendly logging practices, philippine is no longer plentiful nor cheap. I don't know how close you are to a supplier, but I've found there's no substitute for seeing the product first hand. In the Seattle area there are several places which sell "mahogany" marine plywood, but it can vary from ribbon philippine (very rare) to a meranti rotary cut, which is becoming increasingly common since it's fairly cheap, but not particularly attractive. If you're ordering your plywood through a local dealer, I would ask that they request their supplier to take a few photos of the actual pieces and email them so you can see what you're getting. When you're paying as much as you're probably going to pay, this isn't too much to ask. Whenever I buy veneer from an out of town supplier, they have no problem emailing photos of the actual stuff. If you can get actual philippine ribbon cut, that'd be the best and closest to what was on your boat originally. Short of that, you want plywood that comes as close to the pinkish-red color and straight, vertical grain as you can get. Meranti tends to be very light in color, sepele a very dark red, okume and some of the African mahoganies can be yellowish brown in color. But they all vary from tree to tree and from mill to mill. And, not to sound too cynical, but I've found the confusion over "mahogany" to be pretty common and some of the advice from lumber yard people to be... well, best taken with a grain of salt. Good luck!

Re: Which Type of Mahogany

PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:28 am
by peteburrs
Gentlemen, thank you for the prompt response.

Andreas, here is the supplier I am looking into that states its marine grade.

Dan, thank you for all fo the information on "mahogany".