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Should You Use Sapele for Your Next Project?

If you’re a woodworker, DIY enthusiast, or professional craftsman, there always seems to be one question that takes forever to answer. What type of wood should you use?

Sure, there are the staples to choose from: Oak, pine, hickory, teak, and various other woods. However, you may have heard of something a little more exciting in recent years: Sapele Mahogany.

Sapele is an African hardwood in the mahogany family, and it’s known for its rich, reddish-brown coloring and mostly randomized grain. At first sight, it’s capable of making some visually exciting results, but is it the best choice for your project? Let’s go over three main factors that should affect your decision.

The Price of Sapele

The first factor you need to consider is the price tag Sapele has attached to it. Sapele isn’t too pricey. There are plenty of other luxurious woods that make it look cheap in comparison. However, it is still well above the average price of basic construction woods.

This steep price makes it less desirable for projects that simply need to function. Things such as backyard sheds, simple patio furniture, or other items that aren’t traditionally luxurious don’t need all the benefits Sapele offers, and you can save money going with cheaper wood.

However, Sapele is worth the extra costs for projects that do need a bit of visual flair. Fine furniture, hardwood trinkets, hardwood flooring, bespoke cabinetry, and other things that would be considered luxury items can benefit a lot from Sapele’s random grain and beautiful natural coloring.

Sapele’s Grain

Sapele’s grain is both a gift and a curse in some ways. In most sections of Sapele timber, the grain is randomized. This creates a stunning visual effect that advanced woodworkers and buyers of fine wooden products will love. However, it can be a pain for beginners to work with.

This is because the randomized woodgrain often means it interlocks. When you go to a plane or cut Sapele, an expert hand is required to prevent tear-outs that ruin the wood.

For this reason, Sapele is most recommended for advanced woodworkers or those who plan to hire a contractor to do all the heavy lifting for the project. Beginners can easily waste their investment.

However, it is possible to find select sections of Sapele that have fairly straight grain that is resistant to tear-outs. These sections are mostly useful for smaller projects, but they do make Sapele a little more accessible to beginners.

Sapele’s Coloring

Sapele is naturally a bold, reddish-brown that demands the attention of anyone looking at it. It truly is a beautiful wood. This natural beauty should be embraced by projects; not slathered in paint or stained beyond recognition.

For that reason, Sapele is the perfect wood for projects that will rely on its natural beauty for the bulk of the end product’s appearance. If you’re doing something that you want to add a lot of color to, it’s best to go with something cheaper.

Sapele is Perfect for Natural-Looking, Luxurious Projects

Sapele’s price, stunning appearance, and amazing durability make it perfect for crafting heirloom-quality items, bespoke furniture and cabinetry, and other finer wooden products. We recommend it to any advanced woodworker, home renovator, or similar consumers.

However, it’s a little too expensive for basic projects, and it can be difficult for beginners to use. So, keep that in mind, too.