Darkening Mahogany

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Forum topic by Lee A. Jesberger posted 05-22-2010 04:52 PM 5646 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4002 days

05-22-2010 04:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip darkening lumber

I’ve been watching with great interest in A1-Jim’s Low Boy project he’s doing with Charles Neil. 18th century furniture is a favorite of mine.

In his most recent post, he compares African Mahogany, and genuine Mahogany.

I often mix and match Mahogany for the same reasons mention by Jim.

After I’ve finished milling the thickness I’ll often set the lighter board out in the sun for a couple hours. Basically, I’m pre coloring the lighter board to get a closer match the the darker boards.

I find the closer they match prior to starting the finishing process, the better the final product, regarding color match.

A couple things to keep in mind… Don’t set it out and forget it. A couple hors will often do the trick. Also, if left out too long, it could warp.

This works with many other species of wood as well. Cherry is a perfect wood for this too.

I hope this helps.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

13 replies so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4044 days

#1 posted 05-22-2010 05:07 PM

Good to know this Buddy. I have done it with purpleheart but did not know that mahogany was photosensitive as well.

Could you please explain what you prefer to fill the grain on this wood?

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4322 days

#2 posted 05-22-2010 05:08 PM

Thanks Lee<

You can tell what the sun can do, just by covering a portion of a board. You’ll end up with a light area in the covered part.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3600 days

#3 posted 05-22-2010 05:26 PM

Thanks Lee I knew how to use the sun on cherry but not mahogany. I guess I thought I could make it work since Charles is a finishing expert. Now all I need is some sun instead if rain : )

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Dave T's profile

Dave T

196 posts in 3643 days

#4 posted 05-22-2010 08:01 PM

Hmmm wish I knew that when I built my hunt board from mahogany. Staining didn’t help much with the color match. Now I’m stuck with it. Thanks for the tip

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4423 days

#5 posted 05-22-2010 10:26 PM

Lee I’ve got some genuine mahogany that I pick up from supplier in their firewood pile. It’s still piled in my driveway (No spare place to store it) But it was already out in the rain. But I can see the effect of sunlight on it,

A few boards had other boards stacked on top of them for about 1 week and the differences in color is quite striking.

A question to you. Some of the mahogany wood is almost an egg yellow color and no visible grain color, other boards are brown, feel oily or waxy planes smooth where others plane like they were made with feathers (very rough) I change direction and the feathers appear in a different area.

I’m wondering if it’s the difference between sap wood and heart wood,.

-- 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 PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3671 days

#6 posted 05-23-2010 01:55 AM

don’t forget to use sunscreen – you want a nice tan, but not to burn ;)

thanks for the info. nice to see you’re still active, and not buried at work (too much).

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View CharlesNeil's profile


2410 posts in 3893 days

#7 posted 05-23-2010 04:27 PM

This is an issue with all woods , mismatched colors, while sun will help some woods, like mahogany , cherry, it doesn’t help others… the bigger issue as well are projects where plywood and solid wood is used, you have aged wood on the plywood as well as telegraphing glue , all contributing to off color , and as well the ability to use lesser expensive woods like poplar and pine as secondary or even as primary , and be able to get specific colors and even coloring , especially on the totally adverse woods like poplar and maple , when we want them to look like walnut or mahogany or cherry…most consider this impossible, it not by any means, we do it all the time , like furniture factories , where soft maple for example is used and made to look like cherry, walnut or whatever .. the key is to use an equalizing dye to tone in the base wood, as well as the secondary to a basic uniform color prior to staining… then stain or dye over that… while a1Jims mahogany lowboy is pretty equal in color , the African back is not.. I did this on Purpose , so we can see how to bring it all together.. using this technique , I see on the web alot of statements about poplar, alder, pine, maple as impossible to match more expensive woods ,or to emulate them, I totally disagree , poplar for example will make beautiful looking mahogany and walnut… maple makes great looking cherry, sometimes My clients want the natural look of cherry that would be about 1 year old, and want the color to remain so , without further darkening, even using high UV resistant finishes , its not going to happen the cherry will darken , so we simply suggest using hard maple and doing some creative equalizing , then dyeing we can achieve the color and look, the grain and even the specific gravity of white maple is equal to cherry, you literally have to cut into it to know the difference, I use poplar as major secondary woods on mahogany and walnut all the time, major meaning seen shelves and backs , saves a ton of $ and the clients are all for that ..

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3600 days

#8 posted 05-23-2010 06:51 PM

I look forwars to giving it a go on the Lowboy back , Is this in the new DVD it’s all about color Charles?

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View CharlesNeil's profile


2410 posts in 3893 days

#9 posted 05-23-2010 09:49 PM

yes Jim its actually one of the main focuses .. being able to take not only subtle difference’s within same species, but also to be able to integrate lesser expensive woods and get good proper coloring, as well as being able to simply use a lesser expensive wood to emulate a more expensive looking wood..

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3600 days

#10 posted 05-23-2010 09:55 PM

Can’t what for the set I orderd, it should make a world of differiance in our projects Thanks Charles

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Allison's profile


819 posts in 3822 days

#11 posted 05-26-2010 05:22 AM

I did not realize that this could be done with so many species of wood. I will have to check it out!

-- Allison, Northeastern Ca. Remember, Amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic!

View Grumpy's profile


23997 posts in 3874 days

#12 posted 05-29-2010 01:14 AM

Good advice Lee.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

260 posts in 3146 days

#13 posted 05-29-2010 01:26 AM

The old addage “Some is good, more is better” does not hold with sun darkening. I set a scrap of mahogany in the south-facing window to watch it age. Within a short period of time, it did darken. Then after a while it began to sun fade/bleach.

-- Tony -

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