The TreeA very large tree with cylindrical bole and small or no buttresses. Grows to a height of 45m or more, and a diameter at breast height of 10m or slightly more.
The TimberThe sapwood is pale yellow or whitish, the heartwood pinkish when freshly cut, darkening to typical mahogany colour of reddish-brown. Sapele is characterised by a marked and regular stripe, particularly pronounced on quarter-sawn surfaces. Occasionally mottle figure is present, It is fairly close textured, and the grain is interlocked. It is harder and heavier than African mahogany. weighing about 640 kg/m3 when dried. It has a pronounced cedar-like scent when freshly cut.
DryingThe timber dries rapidly with a marked tendency to distort. Quarter-sawn material is less liable to degrade in drying.
StrengthSapele is much harder than African or American mahogany, and in resistance to indentation, bending strength, stiffness, and resistance to shock loads, is practically equal with English oak.
Working QualitiesMedium - Works fairly well with hand and machine tools, but the inter-locked grain is often troublesome in planing and moulding, and a reduction of cutting angle to 150 is needed to obtain a good finish. It takes screws and nails well, glues satisfactorily, stains readily, and takes an excellent polish.
Latin NameEntandrophragma cylindricum
Also known asSaplewood (Nigeria), aboudikro (Ivory Coast), Sapelli (Cameroons)
OriginWest Africa, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroons,Uganda, Tanzania