Entandrophragma cylindricum, or what it’s most commonly known as Sapele, is a member of the mahogany family. Sapele is a timber originating from tropical Africa and grows to incredible dimensions; up to a height of 45m and a diameter of 10m. It is harder and heavier than African mahogany, weighing about 640kg/m3 when dried. This wood can also range from the Ivory Coast to the Cameroons and eastward through Zaire to Uganda.
Sapele’s colour tends to darken with age, from a golden brown to a dark, reddish hue. As well as the common ribbon pattern seen on quarter sawn boards, Sapele is also known for a wide variety of other figured grain patterns, such as: pommele, quilted, mottled, wavy, beeswing, and fiddleback
Sapele has good durability, strength, and density, and can be used both internally and externally. It can be used for skirting boards, architraves, flooring, picture frames, furniture, mouldings, doors, conservatories, panelling and so on.
The texture of the grain is interlocked and sometimes wavy, with a fine uniform texture and good natural luster. Sapele has a distinct, cedar-like scent while being worked.
The hardness, medium density, and propensity for straight grained boles, makes Sapele wood very stable. This timber travels a long distance to reach the UK, but with its natural superior stability, it remains undamaged.
Being much harder than African or American mahogany, the resistance to indention, bending strength, and stiffness is almost equal to English oak.
Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Sapele has been reported as a skin and respiratory irritant. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
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