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Mahogany for marking gauges?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 10-13-2011 04:43 PM 1044 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Brett

660 posts in 2151 days


10-13-2011 04:43 PM

I bought a chunk of mahogany (about 3.5” x 3.5” x 12”) this summer at an estate sale. I started planing and cutting it into a narrower slab from which to make fences for a couple marking gauges

Before I get too far into this project, I want to make sure I’m not wasting my time with unsuitable wood. Is mahogany okay, or should I find another type of wood? Also, I’m considering buying some oak dowels to use for the beams; is oak okay for this?

Here are some pictures of the mahogany:

-- More tools, fewer machines.


5 replies so far

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PurpLev

8523 posts in 3116 days


#1 posted 10-13-2011 04:54 PM

unfortunately ‘mahogany’ is a family name for such a vast family of lumber from philipine mahogany to sapele and everything in between. some are soft and better suited for decorative parts, while other are hard and weather resistant.

so to answer your question more specific – your mahogany may or may not be suitable for a tool that sees constant use in the shop.

do you have any pics of it? does it feel heavy and tight or light and pourous compared to something like maple or oak for example?

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

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Brett

660 posts in 2151 days


#2 posted 10-13-2011 06:31 PM

Thanks, PurpLev. I added some pictures in the first post. I believe the wood came (indirectly) from a Woodcraft store, if that helps. Several people on this forum identified it as mahogany from the above pictures, but I’m open to corrections.

Some of the wood on the arrises splintered off, but otherwise it seem sound. I can compute the density, which might help with identification.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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PurpLev

8523 posts in 3116 days


#3 posted 10-13-2011 06:40 PM

from my experience with mahoganies (plural) this looks to me like the softer species and should be light in weight compared to a closed pore lumber like maple (this could help you confirm it). I probably wouldn’t use it for shop tools and go for maple/cherry/other closed cell hardwood instead.

just my take on this, certainly not the end of all things :)

Edit: just to clarify my reasoning why I would not use it if it WERE the lighter mahogany (or similar lumber):

1. it feels too light in the hand, especially smaller parts – I like tools to have heft in them especially if they have cutters. the extra weight means that the tool will cut on it’s own without me having to exert a lot of force on the cutting edge

2. this type of material (and other open pores lumber) is harder to finish to a smooth surface – not undoable, jsut takes more work and more steps (sealing pores and more coats) I like tools to have a real nice smooth surface especially if they have to ride on my work pieces

3. this type of material is easily chipped/tears out – requiring more attention during milling -especially when parts are smaller.

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

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Brett

660 posts in 2151 days


#4 posted 10-13-2011 07:09 PM

Thanks. I’ve hand-planed a couple surfaces and they seem smooth and hard, but I’ll check the density and decide what to do.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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Brett

660 posts in 2151 days


#5 posted 10-14-2011 03:41 AM

I computed the density at 47.5 lbs per cubic ft, which seems to agree well with Spanish or African mahogany. I think I’ll go ahead and use it to make the gauges.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

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