Cuban Mahogany Coffee Table

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Project by StLouisWoodworker posted 07-08-2007 10:36 PM 3797 views 4 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

On a recent driving trip to South Florida, I managed to purchase a 6/4 thick, 7’ long slab of Cuban mahogany with two live edges, with spalting along each edge. I turned it into the coffee table pictured. I made one leg of the table by cutting off a portion of the board and jointing it back on at 90 degrees. The joinery is through dovetails that are mitered along the outer edges so the spalting flows around the corner continuously. A friend who volunteers at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis provided the picture of leaves and flowers of a Cuban mahogany tree, and these were used to paint a representation of them flowing around the folded edge. The finish I used is 3 coats of shellac, 3 coats of urathane oil top coat, and one coat of polycrystalline wax. Dimensions: height 17”, length 54”, width varies between 18” and 15”.

-- Don Snyder (38.6N, 90.3W)

26 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3581 days

#1 posted 07-08-2007 10:39 PM

stunning. I really love this.. wow.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3639 days

#2 posted 07-08-2007 10:39 PM

Nice slab put to good use!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View BlueStingrayBoots's profile


770 posts in 3423 days

#3 posted 07-08-2007 11:16 PM

That’s beautiful, I would love to see that in person. Is it heavy?

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14167 posts in 3404 days

#4 posted 07-08-2007 11:24 PM

This is one of the nicest benches I have ever saw. The woodworking is awsome and the painting is very nice addition. Who painted the leaves ?

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View StLouisWoodworker's profile


59 posts in 3397 days

#5 posted 07-08-2007 11:42 PM

The painting of the leaves was done by a neighbor of mine, Joy S. She has painted some other projects of mine. I made four hammered dulcimers, and Joy painted birds and branches on the soundboards. I also made a sundial that showed date lines for the birthdays of my sons and wife, and Joy painted some branches and leaves on it—that sundial showed only noon time but the paintings have faded badly due to sun exposure. Joy is quite a women. She’s about as old as me—and that’s pretty old—but very active, raising dogs, chickens, honey bees, etc., and making quilts and various things (I don’t know what else to call them) out of wax. Those she sells at a local ‘farmers’ market. Joy is a very nice lady with a lot of talent. To answer ‘BlueStingrayBoots’ question about the weight of the table, I just pulled out my bathroom scale. It’s not callibrated, so this is just an estimate. The coffee table weighs 35 pounds. That’s about 1/3 Joy and about 1/5 me.

-- Don Snyder (38.6N, 90.3W)

View Max's profile


55996 posts in 3694 days

#6 posted 07-09-2007 12:02 AM

I really like the natural edge on the table. The craftsmanship is great….

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View oscorner's profile


4564 posts in 3732 days

#7 posted 07-09-2007 03:47 AM

Another work of art!

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3821 days

#8 posted 07-09-2007 03:59 AM

Great design with the flowing natural edge. That is a great implementation of your design. The other leg what is it.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Dr_Unix's profile


49 posts in 3542 days

#9 posted 07-09-2007 04:00 AM

Beautiful work!

...but aren’t Cuban products illegal in the US? Or is Cuban Mahogany a variety of Mahogany that can be grown in other places?

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 3507 days

#10 posted 07-09-2007 04:01 AM

Beautiful idea with that leg. Very nice bench.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 3667 days

#11 posted 07-09-2007 05:25 AM

This is a beautiful bench. I like the width of it. jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View StLouisWoodworker's profile


59 posts in 3397 days

#12 posted 07-09-2007 06:03 AM

Thanks, once again, for all the positive comments. In reply to Dr_Unix and the question about the ‘legality of Cuban products,’ Cuban mahogany (i.e., swietenia mahogoni) is a type of mahogany tree that grows in South Florida. I don’t know how abundent it is, but a woodworker there told me it may be a protected tree. The wood sometimes becomes available after hurricanes. I obtained the board from the Woodcraft store in Ft. Lauderdale. Ft. Lauderdale did suffer a heavy duty hurricane last year. Maybe the board originated from a tree downed in that storm, but I have no way to know. I have seen several other Cuban mahogany boards at that Woodcraft store, so boards of that type do not seem too difficult to purchase from reputable suppliers. It isn’t imported from Cuba. That Woodcraft store does seem to have a lot of interesting boards of various local species for sale, so it is worth a stop to take a look if you happen to get in the vicinity. It’s located on Federal Hwy near Commercial Blvd. To answer Karson’s question, the other leg is also mahogany but not from the same tree. I happened to attend a meeting of the South Florida Woodworking Guild on an evening when a member was giving away some mahogany boards. The leg is made from one of those boards. That Guild welcomes visitors to their meetings, so attend one if you get the chance. They meet once a month at the same Woodcraft store.

-- Don Snyder (38.6N, 90.3W)

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3418 days

#13 posted 07-09-2007 07:50 AM

St.Louis – the more I look at this the more I appreciate it. I like the detail of mitering where the half-pin would typically be. Never would have thought about that! How did you join the other leg under the table?

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 3598 days

#14 posted 07-09-2007 07:59 AM

Very nice work, SLW.

I like the mitered dovetail. I don a few myself and they sure add sophistication to an already attractive joint.

Interesting how you introduced this project as a coffee table but a number of LJ’s have called it a bench. I suppose it could serve either purpose.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Napaman's profile


5508 posts in 3498 days

#15 posted 07-09-2007 05:59 PM

amazing…i love the color…and the edges…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

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