- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 11 Dec 2018
Properties of mahogany
Mahogany is classified as a hardwood and is commonly found in the Americas, particularly in Central America. It has been a massive part of Central American culture, being the national tree of the Dominican Republic and Belize, as well and featuring on the Coat of Arms and the flag of Belize.
There are three species of mahogany:
- Honduran mahogany – located anywhere between Mexico and as far down as the southern Amazon rainforest in Brazil.
- Cuban mahogany – native to southern Florida and the Caribbean, but does not have great widespread commercial use.
- Pacific Coast mahogany – said to be a smaller version of the Honduran mahogany species by botanists, but it is smaller and typically found in dry forest in Central America.
Although botanists consider it be to a hardwood, it is not one of the hardest woods available when it comes to woodworking. Woodcarvers say working with mahogany is relatively easy, due to its structure and durability.
Mahogany has been used in the production of furniture since the middle of the 18th century. At this time, American woodcutters and craftsmen could travel to Mexico and Central America to harvest the mahogany that was available.
Mahogany resists wood rot when exposed to the elements, especially water; this has made it very attractive to shipbuilders around the world, and a great number of boats have been constructed using mahogany.
It is also considered a tone wood, which means it possesses tonal properties that are ideal for wooden stringed instruments. Other tone woods include rosewood, maple, ash, and basswood. Because of this, mahogany has been used to create parts of string instruments, such as the backs, sides, and necks of acoustic guitars, as well as the body of electric guitars. The most popular guitar that uses mahogany as the body is the Gibson Les Paul, one of the most iconic guitars of all time.
Because of its decline in its natural habitat, people have cultivated mahogany across the world, giving them the name of ‘true mahogany’, whereas the species mentioned at the beginning are known as ‘genuine mahogany’.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- 11 things you didn't know about wood.
- Ancient Woodland.
- Chip carving.
- Confederation of Timber Industries.
- Cross-laminated timber.
- Definition of tree for planning purposes.
- Engineered bamboo.
- European Union Timber Regulation.
- Forest Stewardship Council.
- Laminated veneer lumber LVL.
- Oak wood properties.
- Pine wood.
- Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
- Timber preservation.
- Timber vs wood.
- Tree preservation order.
- Tree rights.
- Types of timber.
Featured articles and news
A vision for digital highways
Finding stone to conserve historic buildings.
If it is not planned properly even a simple activity can kill.
A disgruntled or ignored stakeholder can easily derail your hard work.
Next generation cementitious materials
Still going strong...one of the great buildings of the 20th century.
Review of the bible for heritage assets and their management.
The David Lloyd Lymington Sports Village was 'Commended' in CIAT's 2018 AT Awards.
How do we make the smart city a reality?
Sir Nicholas Grimshaw has been awarded the UK’s highest honour for architecture.
Protecting the construction industry from Brexit.