Sapele is a reddish-brown wood that in many ways is very similar
to Mahogany. remarkable feature of sapele is that the
grain is interlocked and changes direction in frequent, irregular
intervals. Before WWI the principal demand for this wood came from
Germany where it was used for decorative cabinet work. Interestingly
enough, sapele was found in the propeller-blades of German
Zeppelins. Sapele is also one of Europe's most desired woods in
manufacturing doors, windows and hardwood flooring. It has a wide
variety of applications and is very popular as a decorative surface
veneer for high-grade furniture such as book cases and cabinets. It
is a great alternative to genuine Mahogany.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
Sapelli, Penkwa, Undianuno.
A large African tree ranging from Sierra Leone to Angola and
eastward through the Congo to Uganda.
Heartwood ranges in color from that of medium to a dark reddish- or
purplish-brown. Sapwood is whitish or pale yellow, distinct. Fine
texture and interlocked grain produces a narrow and uniform stripe
pattern on quartered surfaces. It has a cedar-like scent when cut.
Sapele, Sapelli (pronounced sə pi li ), or Aboudikro
(Entandrophragma cylindricum) is a large tree, up to 45 m high
(rarely 60 m), native to tropical Africa. The leaves are deciduous
in the dry season, alternately arranged, pinnate, with 5-9 pairs of
leaflets, each leaflet about 10 cm long. The flowers are produced in
loose inflorescences when the tree is leafless, each flower about 5
mm diameter, with five yellowish petals. The fruit is a pendulous
capsule about 10 cm long and 4 cm broad; when mature it splits into
five sections to release the 15-20 seeds.
Uses Sapele is inexpensive because
it is plentiful. Guitar manufacturers that are trying to get over on
the public use it because it sounds exotic looks nice and they can
charge a lot extra for it. *See
The commercially important wood is reminiscent of mahogany, with a
distinctive figure, typically applied where figure is important. It
is sought after as flooring for its durability and beautiful
graining. Among its more exotic uses is that in guitar
manufacturing, in the top, back and sides of acoustic guitar bodies
as well as the tops of electric guitar bodies, for example by well
known guitar manufacturers such as Ibanez
(Japan/USA), Taylor (USA), Martin (USA), and Esteve (Spain).
Sapele is also used for the neck piece of ukuleles due to its
pleasant aesthetic quality, by such manufacturers as the Hawaiian
companies Kamaka and Koaloha. Late in the 90s, it started to be used
as a board for Basque percussion instruments txalaparta on the
strength of the livelier quality of the sound. It is also used by
American car maker Cadillac for interior wood trim on its vehicles,
with advertising for the Cadillac CTS highlighting the phrase
"Sapele wood accents." The wood has a density of 640 kg per cubic