Sel. Sapele Random Width (Thumbnail)Sapele Entandrophragma Cylindricum: The Sapele is a long-lived and slow-growing tree that reaches a height of 100′ – 150′ with a trunk diameter of 3′ – 6′. This tall, straight African tree bears no branches or leaves until it reaches about 90′. The Sapele tree plays an important structural role within tropical forests; ecologically, medicinally and commercially. The wide trunk and lack of limbs lends to being highly valued for timber, the production most commonly is used for flooring. Among its more exotic uses is in musical instruments. It is used for the top, back and sides of acoustic guitar bodies as well as the tops of electric guitar bodies. It is also used in manufacturing the neck piece of ukuleles and string harps. The Cadillac automobile also uses Sapele wood for interior wood trim on its vehicles. The lumber produces average widths from 5 ” to 15” wide and lengths 8’ – 16’ long. Heppner Hardwoods offers solid and engineered Sapele flooring planks from 3” – 10” wide by long lengths 4′ to 12′ long.

Distribution: East and West Africa

General Characteristics: Sapele is a lustrous wood with the heartwood color ranging from medium to rich dark red-brown, which darkens over time. It often features a ribbon striped figure which is a pale yellow. Sapele is salmon-colored when first cut, but as it ages  it turns to a medium to dark red-brown color.

Hardness/Janka: Janka score of 1500 (16% harder than Northern Red Oak).

Grain: Is interlocked or wavy and the Sapele texture is fine with small pores. It has strength properties similar to Oak.

Variations Within Species and Grades: Sapele is called Gold Coast Cedar by some because the wood has a cedar-like aroma when first cut. Although Sapele has been used in place of Mahogany, it is more durable than the true Mahoganies. It is also distinguished for the array of interesting figures it yields. Some of the very attractive figures found include: Pommele Sapele with its dappled and blistered figure, bees’ wings and a roe figure – all visible when quarter cut. If the grain is wavy, the wood yields a fiddleback or mottled figure, all the figures are further enhanced by the wood’s natural luster. In plain sawn, its interlocked grain gives it an interesting look, described as a pencil stripe. Sapele’s dimensional stability is above average (7.4; 14% more stable than Northern Oak).

Customized Species and Grades: Improper finishing can ruin the pommele pattern. Sometimes the grain will lose some of the distinctive pattern when finishing, if darkened too much, the distinctive pommele, ribbon, look disappears. Sapele bleaches well and users can avoid ‘losing’ the pattern during finishing by bleaching the material and then adding color. It will also react when put into direct contact with iron, becoming discolored and stained.