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Forum topic by teenagewoodworker posted 04-16-2008 03:09 AM 3912 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3944 days

04-16-2008 03:09 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question sapele jewelry box

hey Everyone, I want to make a jewelry box for my sister and i was wondering if anyone knew anything about Sapele. Like what the best finish is and what the finish looks like. Some example like on projects would help!

11 replies so far

View unknownwoodworker's profile


221 posts in 3879 days

#1 posted 04-16-2008 03:22 AM

Yah …. It’s wood

-- ??? My mistakes heat the house. It's very warm in here. ???

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4164 days

#2 posted 04-16-2008 03:34 AM

It’s just like mahogany except it will suck up a lot of finish on that first coat.

Here’s a box I made of it:

Click for details

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Karson's profile


35140 posts in 4576 days

#3 posted 04-16-2008 03:50 AM

The only projects that I’ve made with Sapele are the frame for Mark's Memorial and an outdoor plant stand.

I’ve got about 300 Bd Ft in the shop. It came from here

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

View acanthuscarver's profile


268 posts in 3887 days

#4 posted 04-17-2008 02:53 PM

Like Gary said, it’s a lot like Mahogany. In fact some suppliers sell Sapele mistakenly as Mahogany. It’s a decent hard wood with great color and, as you can see from Gary’s box, great grain patterns. It’s almost like ribbon striped Mahogany. That means you’ll need to be careful milling and prepping it because the grain direction shifts at each of those stripes. Good luck with the box for your sister. Make sure you post some in progress pics as well as a finished group.

-- Chuck Bender, period furniture maker, woodworking instructor

View che's profile


123 posts in 4201 days

#5 posted 04-17-2008 03:52 PM

FYI Mahogany isn’t a specific tree. It is a grouping of related trees. Saying the wood is mahogany is equivalent to saying it is pine. From Wikipedia…

“Mahoganies” may refer to the wider group of all the timbers yielded by the three related genera Swietenia, Khaya and Entandrophragma. The timbers of Entandrophragma are traded under their individual names, sometimes with “mahogany” attached as a suffix, for example “sipo” may be referred to as “sipo mahogany”.

Sapele is in the Entandrophragma genus and is therefor considered “Mahogany” Honduras mahogany is the prime example of Swietenia while African Mahogany is the prime example of Khaya.

Sapele is a little lighter than African or Honduras mahogany (both color and weight). The grain is very open.

I’m partial to oil-varnish / Varnish finishes. First coat is oil-varnish blend. Allow to dry for a couple of days. For the second coat I wet sand (320 grit) using the oil-varnish blend instead of water. The sanding dust will make a slurry which will fill all of the grain. Allow to fully dry (several days). Sand off any remaining slurry with 320 or 400 paper. If the sand paper gets clogged then the finish isn’t dry.

Finish with either more oil-varnish or straight varnish. If you want a mirror finish I would go with straight varnish wet sanding with 400 in between coats. If you want a more natural finish go with a couple more coats of the oil-varnish mix.

-- Che.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4029 posts in 4239 days

#6 posted 04-17-2008 05:46 PM


It is still painful to contemplate all that wood going up in smoke, or not being in my shop.

Denny, good luck with your project!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4172 days

#7 posted 04-18-2008 02:29 AM

Check out Douglas’ valet:

Click for details

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

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3944 days

#8 posted 04-18-2008 03:49 AM

thanks for the help everyone. This looks like a beautiful wood. I know that my sister will like it. I found plans for a jewelry box like this and it has ebony accents. It looked beautiful. So thanks again for the help everyone.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4138 days

#9 posted 04-18-2008 02:18 PM

I seem to have a whole kitchen full of it. It seems to be very straight grained and will split very easily. It tends to be brittle and will chip when routed. On the other hand it comes in great big wide boards with little or no knots. I will sand to a very smooth surface but is porous. I usually have finished it with a seal coat of shellac followed by sanding then wiping on up to 5 coats of poly. The poly is Min-Wax Quick Dry High Gloss mixed with mineral spirits at either 60-40 or 50-50. I’ve never stained Sapele and prefer to have the fun of the surprise color that comes up. Good luck, it’s a beautiful wood. ( see my projects, The Kitchen at 404 Blackaby)

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 4056 days

#10 posted 04-18-2008 02:34 PM

i have a lot of it laying around and ive been experimenting with darrens dye system on it . very subtle but interesting results !

View acanthuscarver's profile


268 posts in 3887 days

#11 posted 04-19-2008 02:48 AM

When I speak of “Mahogany” I’m speaking, as most furniture makers are, of Swietenia or “genuine mahogany”. The best of which came from San Domingo. Even amongst those classified as Swietenia, there are vast differences in the quality of the wood. Honduran Mahogany is light in color and far softer than the San Domingan. None of the Mahoganies available today compare with the dense, rich nature of the San Domingan with its nearly dark chocolate color and granite like hardness. The closest I’ve been able to get is from Guatamala or Bolivia. While the others are botanically related, they are really completely different in grain structure, color, hardness and workability. Sapele is reasonably hard and brittle compared to most African (and even Honduran) Mahogany. It’ll make a beautiful box for your sister and most people will never know it isn’t genuine mahogany.

-- Chuck Bender, period furniture maker, woodworking instructor

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