facts about Mahogany
does not grow in this country, and all stock has to be imported
from Central America, South America, Africa and the Philippines.
Some experts are of the opinion that African mahogany is not
a true mahogany. I wouldn't know. I do know that neither Philippine
nor African mahogany makes good carving stock when their workability
is compared to Amazon or the Central American types.
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mahogany has a slightly softer grain and feel under the carving
tools than does Honduras mahogany. Greater care must be exercised
in developing detail with Amazon stock, although it cuts as
freely as the other kind. In this mahogany the sharp, clear
color differences can be emphasized in the finished piece if
the carving is to be oiled and waxed. The color is darker than
Honduras mahogany- the grain structure slightly more open.
Domingo mahogany is without doubt the Crown Prince of fine cabinet
woods. Honduras mahogany is, to my mind, the Crown Prince of
wood for carving stock. By preference this is the wood in which
I like to work. It cuts freely; there is enough wax in the stock
to give slippage to the carving tools; fine crisp detail can
be developed; it is strong in cross section; long, sweeping
cuts can be made with the run of the grain, diagonally across
the grain, or at right angles to the grain.
this wood, the finished carving can be oiled and waxed and rubbed
up to a fine finish, it can be varnished and rubbed back to
a soft glow, it can be left untreated, it can be painted, gilded,
or, if you like, thrown out on the ashpile and no harm can come
to it. It can be used for out-of-door exposure with no thought
for its longevity because it is highly resistant to rot and
fungi. It can be dyed, stained, riffled, and abused. You can
make mistakes in it, but with reasonable care it can be carved
into the most beautiful work the wood carver can produce. I
think I am prejudiced in its favor and so my opinion will have
to be taken with a grain of salt.
only trouble with Honduras mahogany is that it is sometimes
hard to obtain in the sizes you want for your purpose. Its cost
is high. I usually buy two or three plank at a time to have
on hand. I ask for kiln-dried stock and, when it comes, I stack
it on end in my barn where it can absorb some moisture. I have
found that the most convenient and economical sizes for my use
are 2-inch thick plank, 14, 16 and 18 inches wide, in lengths
of 16 feet. These long lengths can be clipped to the length
of the carving blank I want and the width that is best for the
particular design or form that I want to execute. If wider blanks
are needed, they can be jointed and ripped down to the required
width. Save all the short pieces for use, by the way.