Mahogany Wood Characteristics & Info
This well-known wood is of great use to the amateur joiner, lending itself in the most satisfactory manner to all his requirements. The value of mahogany, on account of its beauty, hardness, and evident durability, was first noticed by the carpenter on board Sir Walter Raleigh's ship during his voyage to the West Indies in 1595. Dr. Gibbons brought it into notice as well suited for the construction of furniture in the early part of the eighteenth century; and its use as a suitable cabinet wood was first practically established by a workman named Wollaston, who was employed by Dr. Gibbons to make some articles of furniture of mahogany brought to this country by his brother. Since then no wood has been more generally used for cabinet-making purposes, and none possesses similar advantages of combined soundness, large size, uniformity of grain, durability, and beauty, of color, and, in the choicer varieties, richness of figure.
Mahogany, as furnished by the timber merchant, is classified under two heads ; namely, Spanish mahogany, and Honduras mahogany or baywood.
Spanish mahogany comprises the close-grained, heavy, and rich varieties of the wood which are capable of receiving a high polish: it may in general be distinguished from inferior wood by its pores containing a white deposit when it is freshly planed. The original Spanish mahogany is the produce of the island of San Domingo ; and the finely figured wood is now so valuable as to be used only for veneers. Mahogany imported from Cuba can, however, be obtained in boards suitable for cabinet-making; and the plainer kind will be valuable for any small work the amateur may essay.
Honduras mahogany is grown in Central America, and is shipped in the Bay of Honduras, hence its common name, baywood. This variety embraces the light, open-grained, and plain classes of mahogany; uniform in colour and easily worked, and almost devoid of any tendency to warp. Combined with these advantages is its comparative cheapness, placing it within the reach of every amateur joiner likely to use a hard wood.
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