Mahogany vs Sapele: A Detailed Comparison

Mahogany and Sapele, are two premier wooden choices, each revered for its unique attributes and versatility. While Mahogany boasts a reputation for its rich appearance and robust strength, Sapele earns acclaim for its remarkable hardness and durability. Both are celebrated for their suitability in crafting fine furniture, construction, and other applications. Despite their shared popularity and similar uses, Both exhibit distinct characteristics that set them apart. This can often lead to confusion among woodworkers seeking to discern the nuances between the two. Let’s delve into a comprehensive comparison between Mahogany vs Sapele, that will help you choose the right wood.

Understanding Mahogany

Mahogany Rustic Home Decor

Mahogany wood, a name synonymous with luxury and elegance, has long been revered for its timeless beauty and unparalleled craftsmanship. While there are several species of Mahogany, the most sought-after variety in woodworking is genuine Mahogany, scientifically known as Swietenia spp., particularly Swietenia macrophylla, native to Central and South America. The trees can reach impressive sizes, often towering over 100 feet in height with diameters exceeding 5 feet, providing ample lumber for various projects.

Understanding Sapele

Sapele Wood for boat building

Sapele wood, scientifically known as Entandrophragma cylindricum, originates from West Africa, particularly Nigeria, Cameroon, and the Ivory Coast. It belongs to the same family as Mahogany, making it a suitable alternative for those seeking a similar aesthetic but with its distinct character. These trees can grow to towering heights, often surpassing 150 feet, with diameters reaching over 4 feet.

Mahogany vs Sapele: A Brief Comparison

SpecificationSapele WoodMahogany Wood
Scientific NameEntandrophragma cylindricumSwietenia spp.
Janka Hardness1410 lbf800-900 lbf
Density41.6 lbs/ft3Varies
Average Dried Weight (kg/m3)640610
Grain Interlocked, distinctive ribbon stripesStraight, more uniform
DurabilityHighly durable, resistant to wear and tearDurable, may require additional treatment for outdoor use
WorkabilityHarder to work with, may pose challenges in machiningEasier to work with
SuitabilityVersatile, and suitable for various applications including furniture, flooring, and outdoor projectsSuitable for furniture, cabinetry, and interior finishes

Comparing Mahogany vs Sapele: Which Wood is Better?

Color and Grain Pattern

Mahogany has a deep red-brown color with straight grain, giving it a smooth and regal look. Sapele also has a reddish-brown color but with a mix of darker and lighter streaks, and its grain is wavy, creating a cool striped pattern.


When comparing the hardness using the Janka hardness scale, Mahogany typically falls within the range of 800 to 1100 pounds-force (lbf), while Sapele ranges from 1410 to 1500 lbf. This indicates that Sapele is generally harder than Mahogany, making it more resistant to denting and wear.


Both are highly durable woods, making them suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Mahogany’s natural oils protect it from pests and decay, ensuring longevity for generations. Similarly, Sapele is resistant to rot and decay, making it perfect for outdoor projects like decking and boat building, thanks to its natural oils that enhance its durability even in tough conditions.


Both are easy to work with, responding well to hand and machine tools. Mahogany is known for its superb machinability and carving properties, making it a preferred choice for intricate woodworking projects. Similarly, despite its density, Sapele is relatively easy to work with, offering good dimensional stability and clean cuts. However, its interlocked grain may require careful attention during planing and sanding to avoid tearout.


Mahogany is often used for fancy indoor furniture and trim because it looks classy with its rich color and straight lines. Sapele, known for being tough and having cool patterns in its grain, is great for outdoor stuff like decks and boats since it doesn’t rot easily.

Availability & Price

Cuban Mahogany is the rarest and most expensive, followed by Honduran Mahogany, especially figured lumber. On the other hand, Sapele is much easier to find and generally more affordable. This makes Sapele a practical option for those on a budget or seeking a more accessible wood for their projects. Mahogany, while slightly more expensive, may be worth the investment for those seeking its specific aesthetic qualities and reputation for luxury.