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View Full Version : Cuban Mahogany - from the source



jupiteruke
12-27-2018, 04:14 AM
What is today referred to as ‘true mahogany’ is Central American mahogany, Swietenia macrophylla. Cuban mahogany (aka Caribbean Mahogany, aka American mahogany) Swietenia mahagoni [notice the species name mahagoni, this is the type species for mahogany] is the historical true mahogany and mostly grows in the Caribbean islands, especially Cuba. It has been planted rather extensively here in South Florida, which is the northern edge of its range. I have been on the lookout for a chance to get some Cuban mahogany, and over the weekend I was riding my bicycle around the neighborhood, and heard the chain saws running. Turns out the new owner of a house with several good sized Cuban mahogany trees was taking them out to put in a pool. I got a couple of logs, and have added Cuban mahogany to my wood stash for some future instruments.

I cut quarter-sawn billets out of the logs, seal the ends, and then re-saw (very sticky sawdust) these into plates. The plates are stickered and tied into bundles which spend some years in my 'solar dryer', aka 'the attic'. The wood is quite light in color when fresh cut but seems to darken quite a bit with some exposure to air. (Note the color of the billet vs that of freshly cut)

EDW
12-27-2018, 04:23 AM
Great find! I can't wait to hear/see the results

merlin666
12-27-2018, 06:42 AM
Thanks for sharing this find. I tend to call it small-leaf mahogany, in contrast to big-leaf mahogany (macrophylla). Would love to hear a comparison of ukes that were built the same way with different types of mahogany.

Steve-atl
12-28-2018, 08:20 AM
Very Nice

How long before it's dry?

jupiteruke
12-28-2018, 08:44 AM
I'll give it 2 years in the attic, though after a single summer sawn plates come out really crispy dry, so if I am impatient ...

Steve-atl
12-28-2018, 09:22 AM
I'll give it 2 years in the attic, though after a single summer sawn plates come out really crispy dry, so if I am impatient ...

I bet.

That will be nice

jupiteruke
12-30-2018, 12:43 PM
Spalted tamarind. A mango grower I got to know (who saved me some chunks of some big mango trees he was taking down to replace the variety) also had a tamarind tree he had taken down. The butt was laying on the ground, and is quite spalted, stained, with a few black bug holes. If you like it 'natural' this is for you. Tamarind is quite hard and heavy, should be interesting.

Jim Hanks
12-30-2018, 01:19 PM
Spalted tamarind. A mango grower I got to know (who saved me some chunks of some big mango trees he was taking down to replace the variety) also had a tamarind tree he had taken down. The butt was laying on the ground, and is quite spalted, stained, with a few black bug holes. If you like it 'natural' this is for you. Tamarind is quite hard and heavy, should be interesting.
Ooh, me likey. Just put that on my tab now please.

Edit to add: Actually, I'm dead serious. What could be made with that piece?

jupiteruke
12-31-2018, 04:24 AM
The stuff is not real wide, though I have some which I think is going to re-saw big enough to make tenors. I'm also thinking of trying a 3-piece back. Spalted tamarind sides, with the back having a center wedge of something contrasting, like curly koa. Another possible way to use those nice pieces of wood that for one reason or another don't fit into the standard build pattern. Center wedge of curly koa, black-white-black purfling separator from the spalted tamarind, black bog oak binding, hmmm....

Jim Hanks
12-31-2018, 07:10 AM
Yeah, that could work. Or perhaps a long neck soprano or concert. hmmmmm....