Sapele: 5/4 x 21" x 12' now what?

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Forum topic by Buckethead posted 06-24-2013 09:16 PM 2441 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 2070 days

06-24-2013 09:16 PM

I bought this piece with the intention of building a hutch for my darling wife, but she intends to do a distressed finish on what I build. I am NOT going to put this lovely chunk of Sapele through the wringer like that. Some pine will do there.

So… That leaves me with this awesome chunk of wood which I got for what I consider a steal (in FL) of $5 per BF.

Any suggestions? I could use it for a work bench, but others have already chided me for considering such. Hard maple will cost me another $1.50 per BF, so that isn’t really the problem there. Perhaps Sapele is too soft a wood for a bench?

Truthfully, I want to make something worthy of this piece of lumber. Currently I have no resaw capability. Again, the workbench wouldn’t require such. I did just pick up a delta thickness planer for fiddy bucks!

It works!

So I’m looking for ideas here. I’m anxious to begin my first real hardwood project (I’ve built a ton of things from softwood and scrap, and have been a carpenter for longer than I’ll admit). I’d hate to cut this up into jewelry boxes. So I’d love to get any ideas you guys are willing to offer.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

30 replies so far

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3125 days

#1 posted 06-24-2013 09:20 PM

How about a “sofa” table?

-- Life is good.

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3171 days

#2 posted 06-24-2013 09:59 PM

The one plank challenge. I don’t know what you can make with that Buckethead, what do you need? coffee table? bedside locker? bathroom cabinet?
It may look like a lot of timber but you should allow plenty of waste when cutting it. It can have a mind of it’s own and is liable to tear out if your knives are dull or you feed it through the planer the wrong direction.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 2070 days

#3 posted 06-24-2013 11:14 PM

Thanks for The responses, fellas!

Our house is basically furnished, and my better half is not fond of my wood selection. “Orange” was her single comment.

A coffee table would be a good start, I suppose. I could give it to my son, who needs complete home furnishings, but then again, with his track record of caring for his possessions, it would not endure for long. (Maybe that’s why he is in need of the full monte?) Bring him in and let him help design and build it. Whatever piece he wants. There’s a thought…

I’m seriously leaning towards using it or a bench top. I have no bench, it cost less than hard maple locally, the same as birch, but I did have my heart set on that Scandinavian looking bench. I wanted to do walnut accents, but hard maple or birch as the primary material. This would just look wrong, even if it worked well.

I went to play with my new $50 delta portable planer… And upon attempting to adjust the head height…. (Need the price is right failure sound here)...

Just a quick look at her undercarriage (I was quick…. I am a gentleman) revealed a missing pin in the axel which transfers the crank action to the opposite side. Surely there is a term for this type of pin. I dismantled, and the other side seemed to be repaired in an ad hoc manner. I did the same. I inserted a finish nail and wedged it in the slot then cut it off with a trusty hack saw.

Put it back together, checked the bed and blades for parallel, and fired her up.

I’m a happy camper!

So… Still trying to contemplate what to do, or to just wait. The guy I bought this from has another piece just like it, so I could double the amount. It is 1-3/8” to 1/1/2” thick so re sawing would be an option if I had the means, and if it suited a particular project.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2445 days

#4 posted 06-24-2013 11:25 PM

Sapele is used in newer acoustic guitars as an alternative to mahogany… using it as a workbench, at least to me, either honors the workbench too much or doesnt honor the nice wood enough. But I’m crazy like that so please do what you see best with that wood.

But it looks to me like you can use a planer cart.

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View kdc68's profile


2691 posts in 2478 days

#5 posted 06-24-2013 11:54 PM

I have a simple solution ….I’ll take it off your hands….Then for You… it will be out of sight… out of mind…. All your focus can be spent on a hutch for your wife…. ;-)

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 2091 days

#6 posted 06-24-2013 11:58 PM

Sapele is BEAUTIFUL. I just finished a dining table using 8/4 sapele. Some of it has pomelle like figure. Good luck.

Maybe a dining/coffe table or end stands?

View madts's profile


1873 posts in 2541 days

#7 posted 06-25-2013 12:23 AM

I would save it, until you just get the bingo moment. That might be tomorrow, or in 5 years time.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2639 days

#8 posted 06-25-2013 01:03 AM

I agree with madts. Sit on it! When the right project come along you’ll know it.

About three years ago I got some old growth honduran mahogany salvaged from a 130 year old house. 3/4×8” x 9’. I got it for $1/linear foot for 10 planks! I’m still sitting on 8 1/2 of those.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View WillAdams's profile


86 posts in 2197 days

#9 posted 06-25-2013 02:41 AM

Tool box / chest.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 2070 days

#10 posted 06-25-2013 02:49 AM

There’s a good idea. Well done Will!

I have been acquiring hand tools. Organization is becoming a problem.

A tool box would suit the situation, allow me to practice various joinery types, and be a useful addition as well.

I have seen some boxes that made me drool. Perhaps I need to take this on.

I think I’ll look at some of the box types here and commit to designing something that suits my needs.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View zzzzdoc's profile


550 posts in 3205 days

#11 posted 06-25-2013 06:08 PM

I build most of my furniture out of sapele, so I could think of lots of possibilities.

Where did you get the board around here? I don’t find many wide sapele boards around Tampa.

-- Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 2070 days

#12 posted 06-25-2013 10:46 PM

I bought it in Jacksonville from a lumber supplier who doesn’t normally carry hardwoods for resale. They do purchase them occasionally for the purpose of special orders such as moldings, corbels, accents, etc…

I happened to be near, and since I had done business with them previously for framing lumber, I dropped in.

I asked if they had any hardwoods such as walnut…. No was the answer, but he said he had a opulent pieces of sapele left over from an order a couple years ago that he’d love to sell to me. Both were in excess of 20” in width, 5/4 in thickness, and 12’ in length. I bought one, and the other remains there. I really should have kept the pair together.

I can give you contact info if you’re interested, but it seems like a long drive for a single piece of lumber.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 2070 days

#13 posted 06-26-2013 01:43 AM

Edit for above: “opulent” should have been “couple”.

Autocorrect wins again.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View rickf16's profile


392 posts in 3783 days

#14 posted 06-26-2013 03:29 AM

Here’s what I did with a piece of Sapele.

sixstring has a good point. IMO this is a wood that should be displayed.

Just mt two.

-- Rick

View Joel Shappell's profile

Joel Shappell

85 posts in 2279 days

#15 posted 06-26-2013 04:41 AM

Save it until you find the project that suits you. But totally agree that there is no point in using it for a piece that will be ‘distressed’. Makes me cringe.

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