Are you a wood snob?

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Project by maplerock posted 262 days ago 1633 views 5 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I love mahogany. I love the color, the grain, the way it takes a finish… it is good stuff! Unfortunately I don’t make many boxes out of mahogany for two reasons. One, I don’t have a good source, and two, it is expensive.

That’s why I recruited mahogany’s cousin for this project. This is Sapele. 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. (That’s from the description on East Teak’s website.)

Check out the grain up close:

This box is about 11 ” x 7×5 high. It was finished with 1 coat of tung oil and 6 coats of wipe on poly. Then a coat of Johnson’s paste wax. A lot of finish work, but my wife does it. :-)

It is a sweet wood. I found this from a local lumberyard in a pile of “shorts” for $2 a board ft. This is a simple design, with a curly maple top and maple splines. It came out very well. I hope you like it, and when you want a classy, upscale look, don’t be a wood snob… give the lesser known and less expensive cousin a chance

I’ve been pretty busy in the shop as you can see, but I love to read your comments! They are always appreciated!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

20 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13779 posts in 969 days

#1 posted 262 days ago

Very beautiful work. Clean and classy.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View MontanaBob's profile


419 posts in 1315 days

#2 posted 262 days ago

Really like the color—-—- wood combo…. Outstanding..

-- To realize our true destiny, we must be guided not by a myth from our past, but by a vision of our future

View mariva57's profile


443 posts in 635 days

#3 posted 262 days ago

Excellent box, compliments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- The common man thinks. The wise man is silent. The stupid man discusses.

View .'s profile


76 posts in 2428 days

#4 posted 262 days ago

Very nice. Please tell us about your photography setup to get these shots. Thanks

View Boxguy's profile


1445 posts in 899 days

#5 posted 262 days ago

Jerry, this is lovely work. I really like the color combination. Maple makes an ideal pairing with Sapele. Sapele is one of my favorite woods to work with. I even enjoy its rich spice-like smell. The proportions and feel of this box are a pleasure to the eye and a joy to the touch. You have not just been busy; you have been frantic! Really nice job on that close up shot. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View bygrace's profile


122 posts in 600 days

#6 posted 262 days ago

Love the box and the wood. I’m just learning about hardwoods and appreciate the information. Question: do you use a bandsaw to cut the tops off of your boxes? I don’t have one so I use my tablesaw and struggle to get a clean cut away. I was wondering if a bandsaw would solve that problem.

-- Andy, Waxahachie, Tx.

View Picken5's profile


119 posts in 1323 days

#7 posted 262 days ago

Nice job, Jerry. I love your boxes.

-- Howard - "Time spent making sawdust is not deducted from one's lifetime." - old Scottish proverb

View sgmdwk's profile


259 posts in 504 days

#8 posted 262 days ago

Thanks for the background information about historical uses of Sapele. I love that sort of detail. It is beautiful grain.

-- Dave K.

View Woodbridge's profile


2662 posts in 1049 days

#9 posted 262 days ago

beautiful wood and a great looking box.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Greg..the Cajun  Box Sculptor's profile

Greg..the Cajun Box Sculptor

5009 posts in 1940 days

#10 posted 262 days ago

What a really nice wood choice for that great looking box…makes a lot of difference.

-- If retiring is having the time to be able to do what you enjoy then I have always been retired.

View maplerock's profile


417 posts in 431 days

#11 posted 262 days ago

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your comments.

Tucker: I have a pretty simple setup. I had a photography business and have some studio lights. I mounted three of them on a rafter in my garage illuminating a white background. I set the boxes on a table and use an on camera flash as well. So… 4 lights.

You can read about it at this link:

Bygrace: I use a table saw. Boxguy taught me how. He has a nice tutorial on how to achieve a smooth cut: It is tricky, but the secret is to leave that thin amount of wood on the last two cuts… then cut the sections apart. I then sand/plane off the extra wood. I think a bandsaw would work if you had a good blade and a tall fence, and had a way to sand the edges afterward.

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

View Blackie_'s profile


3376 posts in 1144 days

#12 posted 262 days ago

Very nice box and grouping of boxes thanks for the info on the Sapele, for a sec I thought it was the same breed of wood that I’ve been buying from my local lumber yard, what I buy is what’s called Sipo Mahogany from south America but only at around $4.00 a BF which ain’t too bad, what I consider to be expensive from my local supplier is Walnut and Mesquite both are at $11.00 plus a BF. Jerry that Sapele, after looking it up I found what you stated but it is labeled in the same family as Mahogany from what I read.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View maplerock's profile


417 posts in 431 days

#13 posted 262 days ago

Thanks Randy. Well, a cousin is in the same family :-)

I wish I was better at wood identification. I have trouble once I get past walnut, oak, cedar, pine, and maple. I’m saving a small piece of all of my cut offs to label and use for reference. I often need to ask people “what the heck is this box made out of” after I build one. I just finished one and I had no idea what kind of top I put on it!

I recently bought The Wood Bible and another book on wood identification. Gotta study up a bit!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5347 posts in 2216 days

#14 posted 262 days ago

I actually prefer sapele to mahogany nice to have abit of grain for a change. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Arcola60's profile


37 posts in 1015 days

#15 posted 262 days ago

I have used Sapele for some end grain cutting boards. In another board, I used Mahogany. I agree with SCOTSMAN, I prefer Sapele to mahogany.
Beautiful work on the boxes you have created, excellent detail. Thank you for sharing your work with us.

Ellery Becnel

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