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Sapele
ENTANDROPHRAGMA CYLINDRICUM

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.

FAMILY
Meliaceae.

OTHER COMMON NAMES
Sapelli, Penkwa, Undianuno.

ORIGIN
A large African tree ranging from Sierra Leone to Angola and eastward through the Congo to Uganda.

APPEARANCE
Heartwood ranges in color from that of medium to a dark reddish- or purplish-brown. Sapwood is whitish or pale yellow, distinct. Fine texture and interlocked grain produces a narrow and uniform stripe pattern on quartered surfaces. It has a cedar-like scent when cut.

DENSITY AND BUOYANCY
Janka hardness is 1500, 16% harder than Red Oak (1210 Janka). Average weight of 42 lbs./cu. ft. and specific gravity off .55, make this wood similar in density and buoyancy to teak.

DRYING AND SHRINKAGE
Fairly rapid drying and with a marked tendency to distort; careful stacking necessary.

WORKABILITY
Fairly easy with hand and machine tools, and it saws and finishes easily, although interlocked grain offers difficulties in planning and molding. Sapele has good nailing and gluing properties, and it finishes well.

DURABILITY
Heartwood is moderately durable, resistance to termite attack variable. Sapwood liable to powder-post beetle attack.

PRESERVATION
Heartwood resistant; sapwood moderately resistant.

USES
Used extensively, primarily as flooring, furniture, cabinetwork, decorative moldings, paneling, doors and windows, and anything mahogany is used for.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS
Sapele ranges from medium to fairly dark reddish-brown to purplish-brown, while sapwood is whitish or pale yellow. This wood is moderately durable, and its resistance to termite attack varies. While sapele is similar in color to African mahogany, it is more durable than true mahoganies. Its strength is similar to oak.

Sapele also:


  • works well with hand and machine tools
  • finishes well

LUMBER
Standard and custom sizes available in flooring, paneling and mouldings.


  • 4/4", 5/4", 6/4", 8/4", 10/4" and 12/4" thickness
  • 4" and wider
  • 8' and longer, up to 16'


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