- 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
Love them or hate them, they are popping up everywhere.
The initiative to enhance the environment continues.
Could underused community spaces offer an alternative to working from home?
Keeping workers and workplaces safe in the United States.
A history lesson in geographic information systems.
A low tech, easy to use method of extinguishing small fires.
How can these valued spaces be reused?
Partnership avoids the need for listed building consent.
Connecting building design from inception to completion to operations.
Gregor Harvie predicts interoperability will be construction’s Uber moment.
Expert commentary and insight.
Guidance offered for stained glass window maintenance.
Define need before determining viability.