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Thread: Can I Use This Mahogany?

  1. #1

    Default Can I Use This Mahogany?

    I need some advice about identifying and how to best use this piece of mahogany (I think).

    About 20 years ago when I started building guitars an old guy gave me this piece of wood. He got it from a friend who years earlier worked on the William Howard Taft House in Cincinnati and claimed it was a left over scrap from a job he did there. I have no way to verify the story, but the guy who gave it to me was a honest and humble person, so I have no reason to doubt it either. Nevertheless, I like a piece of wood with a good story.

    It's 2" thick and almost 18" wide. Unfortunately, the grain runs from 45 degrees rift on both sides to flat sawn in the middle.

    Here's a couple of pics:



    I'd like to build a concert from this wood and here is how I have it laid out:


    I'm guessing I could get away with the rift sawn on the top and bottom, but not sure about using flat sawn for the sides. I could get some 45 degree rift sides, but they would only be 16.3" long. Maybe I could build with a wedge end graft to gain a little length?

    For the neck I can use a piece of the flat sawn section and then rotate it 90 degrees. It would only be 2" wide so I would have to glue pieces to the sides of the headstock. I would then have a one piece heel and avoid the scarf joint where the neck meets the headstock.

    Please let me know what you think of my plan and/or if you have a better option.

    If you can identify what kind of wood it is I'd like to hear that too.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Little River, California


    Identifying wood can be difficult, but it looks like a flat sawn piece of mahogany to me and if the story is true it is probably Cuban mahogany (Swietenia mahogani). Nice stuff. Picture below:


    Your plan sounds good to me. As for the sides being slightly short, none of this is written in stone and it doesn't have to exactly match the specs on a "concert" sized ukulele. Let the length of the sides dictate the size of the box and make your scale length accordingly. It all works.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2018


    You seem to have thought it through fairly well. If you decide to use the long, flat sawn piece for the sides, be sure to flip the faces of a single cut to the outside of the instrument. Providing the cut is narrow, the opposing faces will then have a reasonably well-matched grain pattern. If you use slices from separate cuts, the grain pattern of the non-opposing (flat sawn) slices will be quite different. It depends how characterful the grain pattern is, as to whether this warrants consideration.

  4. #4


    Except appearance I see no reason to not use flat sawn for the sides. My concert sides are just under 16", but if you run just a bit short then just do the end graft. Looks like a good plan that minimizes waste.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2015


    I used flat sawn walnut for a guitar years ago as an experiment, still going strong. A little more care needed in bending it in case of cupping but Mahogany is a stable wood, I would go for it.

  6. #6


    Thanks for the advice, guys. I'm leaning towards using the 16.3" side of the board for the uke sides and making a whatever size uke that will give me.

    Then I can use the center flat sawn section and make four necks if needed.

    Now I need to figure out how many top/side/back slices I can get from the 2" thickness. Should be enough for two ukes.

  7. #7


    I did some more planning. If I can get 8 slices out of the 2" width then I can get enough wood for 4 ukes.


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