What is Sapele Wood? Sapele Uses, Advantages and disadvantage

The scientific name of Sapele Wood is Entandrophragma cylindricum. Sapele wood is used in the manufacture of fine furniture, cabinets, and doors. Sapele is a golden to dark reddish-brown color. Color tends to darken with age. It is famous for its hardness, dark brown color, and well finishing.

Sapele is known by another name Sapele or Sapelli or Sapele mahogany.  Sapele got its name from Sapele City in Nigeria. Where there is a preponderance of the tree. It is exported to other countries of the world from here. Sapele is important for the economy of Nigeria.

Sapele wood is considered an alternative to mahogany. Real mahogany costs more. Sapele is quite close to mahogany. But not the same as mahogany. That’s why most people prefer to use Sapele instead of mahogany in some cases, such as making guitars.

Sapele wood scientific nameEntandrophragma cylindricum.
Heightup to 45 m
Average dry weight42 lbs. / cu. ft., or approximately 3.5 lbs. per board foot.
Janka hardness1,410 lbf.
ColorGolden to dark reddish-brown or purplish-brown.
Height45m or more
Bending PropertiesIt can bend easily.
FinishingFinishes well.
Sapele UsesFurniture, Cabinetry, Flooring, Veneer, plywood, and Musical Instruments.
Sapele wood

Sapele Wood for Outdoor and Indoor use

It is widely used for furniture, door, window, cabinetwork, flooring, applications, and musical instruments. 

sapele uses
Sapele Uses

1. Guitar Body

Sapele is a great choice to use to make guitar bodies because of its great visual appeal. It is finished and glues well. It can be easily peeled off in the thin sheet. Which is used on the side of the guitar body.

Despite being harder than African mahogany, it can be easily cut and folded. For some new guitarists, this may be the new wood. But it is being used quite rapidly. Due to the increasing price and frequent harvesting of mahogany, It is getting used more

Sapele wood guitar tone is similar to mahogany tone. Guitar makers also like to use Sapele. It is very difficult to say who is better. It depends on who listens.

2. Flooring

As we know that. Hardwood is the perfect choice for the floor. There are many benefits of having hardwood for the floor such that it does not easily scratch and make it fabricated.

Janka’s hardness of Sapele wood is 1,410 lbf. Which is perfect for flooring. And it does less damage than pointed sandals and furniture.

Sapele wood does not require any kind of preservation treatment. This means that it is naturally safe for children. Who loves to play on the floor. It is 16% harder than Red Oak and it is more durable than true African mahogany. 

african mahogany vs sapele hardness
African mahogany vs Sapele hardness

3. Boats and Boat Part

Sapele wood is also good for outdoor use. Sample wood is used to make boats. It does not change your properties even after being in constant contact with water.

Some boat makers use Sapele veneer sheets instead of solid wood due to the higher price of Sapele. But this can only be done for the decoration of the boat. Solid wood should be used to make the base part of the boats.

4. Sapele Wood Cutting Boards

Sapele wood is harder than red oak and real mahogany. Also, it can be used without chemical treatment. Even then it is more durable. It is a brilliant choice for cutting boards.

Due to sufficient hardness, the marks of this knife and other cutting tools are not formed. And it is the rich deep color that makes it ideal for personalizing with custom engraving.

5. Door and Windows Frames

The Sapele wood also offers a great appearance with good hardness. It is water and rot-resistant so that it is used more for making bathroom rank, doors, and kitchen cabinets.

Regarding the color of the Sapele Lumber, it is believed that over time it darkens its color.

6. Beams

Sapele wood is used for Indoor construction elements such as beams and wooden pillars. Its tangled grains give it strength. So that this heavyweight can be lifted for a long time without cracking.

Sapele Wood Advantages

1. Extremely durable

Sapele wood is hardwood. It is a hard, medium-density wood that has great durability. It can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications. The durability of this wood can be further enhanced by polish and paint. Sapele wood furniture can last for a longer time.

2. Easy maintenance 

Due to its good hardness, it causes less damage and requires less care. The biggest problem with the floor is that it is likely to be scratched by furniture legs. For such a problem, you can use Furniture Pads. Which leads to less damage and requires less maintenance.

3. Appearance

Sapele wood is famous for its appearance and hardness. Everyone likes its golden to dark reddish-brown or purplish-brown. Its color gives a rich appearance. Its color darkens over time. 

4. Water and Fire Resistance

The most important thing is that it is very fire resistant. These properties are due to their high hardness.

It can also withstand water for a long time. It spreads and shrinks even when it is in constant contact with water.

5. Wood Tone

Sapele Wood is also famous for another of its properties, Wood Tone. This is used by guitar makers. Its tone is almost similar to mahogany tone. It is so similar that some guitarists do not find a difference in the tone of both kinds of wood.

Sapele wood disadvantages

1. Cost

Sapele wood costs more than some other hardwoods. Due to continuous harvesting, Its reserves are declining rapidly. Sapele is being recovered in Africa. Hope to reduce its price in the next few decades.

2. Slow Growth Rate

The wood of all hardwood species grows less rapidly than softwood. Sapele seedlings are high, less than 1% reaching 10 cm stem diameter. Seedlings grow slowly, at around 20 – 40 cm/year.

3. Difficult to Work

Some experts believe that there is a problem with Sapele operating the machine. Because it has interlock grain. So it makes the work slow. Some carpenters like to work manually. It is much easier to work with small tools than large tools.

Sapele Workability

Sapele Workability
Sapele Workability

Problems may occur during machine operation. Because of being interlocked grain. This interlocked grain also gives them strength but sometimes it becomes a problem while working. This interlocked grain is formed during the growth of the tree.

Tools are moderately blunted during cutting. The good thing is Due to its high density and hardness, it holds the nail and screws well in it. Its surface absorbs paint and polish well and lasts for a long time.

After finishing its embossed grain with sandpaper and polish it gives a good finishing. Sapele wood is used to make small objects such as jewelry boxes and pen holders. Which can be easily carved. This wood species can be easily worked with small tools.

Sapele Wood Sustainability

Sapele is fast-growing hardwood. Which is more common in Africa. When Sapele first started growing in popularity and was used as an alternative to mahogany, harvesting was definitely a problem. But due to its increasing popularity, it is recovering in Western Africa.

It is on the IUCN Red List. Not listed in CITES Because, in the last 3 years, this species has been found deficient by about 20%. This decrease is due to its constant demand and low production. This is also a resonance of the high price of the Sapele.

Read our another article

Mahogany vs Sapele: Mahogany Wood and Sapele Wood uses

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