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Exotic Hardwood: African Sapele

Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Exotic Hardwood African SapeleOne great wood staple of the flooring industry is African Sapele. This beautiful flooring is not only hardy, but its unique coloring makes it a standout in any home. While shopping for this amazing wood, you may find it called by its other names: Sapelli, Muyovu, Undianuno, Aboudikro, Penkwa, Libuyu, or Sapelii. The African Sapele can be found in Africa, from the Ivory Coast to the Cameroons and eastward through Zaire to Uganda.

The color of African Sapele is a reddish-brown color that resembles Mahogany. The sapwood has a light yellow color — nearly white — while the heartwood ranges in color from a medium to dark reddish or purplish brown.

One unique feature of African Sapele is that the interlocking grain is narrow and contains a uniform stripe figure on quartered surfaces; this makes for an interesting and unique floor. When African Sapele is cut, it produces a cedar-like scent. It has a hardness of 1510 on the Janka scale; you can compare this to Red Oak at 1260 and Brazilian Cherry at 2820. The average weight of this type of wood is 42 lbs ft., which make it about as buoyant as teak. It is also worth noting that this type of wood dries quickly and tends to distort. African Sapele is easy to work with, in both hand and machine tools. In addition to being easy to saw and finish, it also can be glued and nailed easily as well. This type of wood is resistant to termite attack, but the sapwood can fall to the powder-post beetle.

In addition to be in a material for hardwood floors, African Sapele can also be used for decorative purposes as well; you may find this type of wood in high-grade furniture like cabinets and book cases. In Europe, it is popular to use this type of wood when producing doors and windows, in addition to hardwood floors. You can also use African Sapele for decorative moldings and panelings – this is a great alternative to Mahogany. You can order custom size boards for your special project, or order standard sizes. When planing this wood, it can be difficult to avoid tearing the interlocking grain.