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Sapele

Heartwood if pale brown to sand brown, resembling ash or chestnut. The narrow sapwood is yellowish white. The wood has a coarse texture and is generally straight grained. Well known as an aromatic species.

Thicknesses

Subject to availability

5/4
6/4
7/4
8/4
9/4
10/4
12/4
16/4
20/4
1/2"
3/4"
1"
2/4"
1/4"
2"
4/4"
Lengths

Subject to availability

4-6'
7/8'
9/10'
11/12'
13/14'
15/16'
17-20'
7' and longer
Applications
Boatbuilding
Cabinet Doors
Cabinetry
Exterior Millwork
Flooring
Furniture
Interior Millwork
Interior Trim
Musical Instruments
Turned Objects
Veneer
Windows

Distribution

Tropical Africa

Scientific Name

Entandrophragma cylindricum

Specific Gravity: Basic

0.5

Specific Gravity: 12% MC

0.67

Janka Hardness

1410

Color/Appearance

Heartwood is a golden to dark reddish brown. Color tends to darken with age. Besides the common ribbon pattern seen on quartersawn boards, Sapele is also known for a wide variety of other figured grain patterns, such as: pommele, quilted, mottled, wavy, beeswing, and fiddleback.

Grain/Texture

Grain is interlocked, and sometimes wavy. Fine uniform texture and good natural luster.

Endgrain

Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement, few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; reddish brown deposits occasionally present; parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates, unilateral, and marginal; rays narrow to medium, spacing normal; ripple marks present.

Rot Resistance

Heartwood ranges from moderately durable to very durable in regard to decay resistance. Moderate insect/borer resistance.

Workability

Sapele can be troublesome to work in some machining operations, (i.e., planing, routing, etc.), resulting in tearout due to its interlocked grain. It will also react when put into direct contact with iron, becoming discolored and stained. Sapele has a slight blunting effect on cutters, but it turns, glues, and finishes well.

Odor

Sapele has a distinct, cedar-like scent while being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity

Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Sapele has been reported as a skin and respiratory irritant.

Pricing/Availability

Should be moderately priced for regular plainsawn or quartersawn lumber, though figured lumber and veneer can be extremely expensive, particularly pommele or quilted Sapele.

Sustainability

This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.
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