Sapele or sapelli is the common name for the Entandrophragma cylindricum, which grows natively in Africa. It is widely used in lumber form, as well as wood material for high-end musical instruments, which makes the Sapele a commercially valuable export. It is sometimes substituted for Genuine Mahogany. The heartwood is colored golden to dark reddish brown. Furthermore, it’s durable and provides a natural luster.
Common uses are as veneer and plywood. It’s also a furniture, cabinetry, flooring, and boat-building species. Further uses include: Musical instruments, turned objects, and even Cadillac interior trim.
The price is moderate for regular plainsawn or quartersawn lumber. Figured lumber and veneer can be highly expensive, particularly pommele or quilted Sapele.
Working with Sapele
Sapele is known to be moderately difficult to work with in some machining operations, particularly planning and routing processes. Due to its interlocked grain, machining could result in tearout. It is also advisable to avoid direct contact with iron, as this stains and discolors the wood. It’s stable, and therefore turns, glues, and finishes well.
Natural Range: Africa, especially in tropical regions.
Common Name(s): Sapele, Sapelli, Sapeli
Scientific Name: Entandrophragma cylindricum
Tree Size: 100-150 ft (30-45 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 42 lbs/ft3 (670 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .50, .67
Janka Hardness: 1,410 lbf (6,280 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 15,930 lbf/in2 (109.9 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,746,000 lbf/in2 (12.04 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 8,750 lbf/in2 (60.4 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.8%, Tangential: 7.2%, Volumetric: 12.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.5
From: The Wood Database