How to finish american mahogany


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I went to a local saw mill that had a 7" long 9" wide and 2" thick piece of mahogany.  It has been kiln dried and cured in stacks for at least 10 years.   I cut the board to 4 feet to use as a mantle piece above my gas fireplace.  I used oak wood 4-6" wide   7" long as a background from floor to ceiling.  about 9"   used a light stain came out great.  My question is what to do with the mahogany.  I was thinking just sand it smooth  than use a polyurethane matte on the board.  I have read that mahogany is very porous and i should use wood filler,  stain it than lacquer or poly it   do i need to do all that   or  just sanding and poly with a matte finish.  Board is beautiful the grains look amazing i don't want to get a bunch of stuff on it and take away from the beauty.  Any ides of another technique?

below is a pic of the mahogany that is left after cutting from 7'   may make nice shelves woth it   the other is the wall i built around fireplce.  just  to show i would hang mahogany between the tv and fireplace.

thank you for any tips or suggestions

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I'm curious how you know it's "American mahogany."  The little bits I've seen tend to be considerably darker than that.  What you have looks like Honduran to me...but one pic of one board is far from conclusive.

Best to tread lightly when finishing mahogany.  It needs zero help in the beauty department.  Pore filling is a traditional technique but unless I was trying to do an exact repro of a period piece I wouldn't even consider it.  The more you monkey around with wood, the less it looks like wood...IMO.

Shellac would be a great finish.  A few thin coats of wipe-on poly would also look good.  Satin ARS is dead easy to apply and more protective than shellac.

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I've had great results with Liberon Furniture Oil on Mahogany, although I've never worked with American Mahogany.  No filling the pores allply 4-5 coats with 000 steel wool and done, nice luster, pops figure and looks great

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Ultimately it all comes down to:

1) what you're looking for as a finished appearance

2) How much effort you're willing to put into the finishing process

Pore filling can easily become a very tedious process, and like others have mentioned it *CAN* take away from the natural look of the wood.  My personal choice would be to skip the filler completely and apply 4-5 coats of satin ARS.  This will slightly fill the grain, but not much.  More importantly it will provide good protection and bring out the beauty of the mahogany.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

thank you for all the advice.  A family friend owns the lumber mill i go to.  He also has a small trucking company that runs up and down i-95 from here in Maryland.  while in Florida after hurricane Andrew (1991) and delivering ice to Miami and the keys a mahogany tree had fallen in the road on a side street. The state was going to put in the chipper and grind up    he stopped the guys and for 20$ they loaded over 10 logs some 26" in width all at least 12' long onto his tractor trailer.  He brought back to Maryland didn't touch for 2 years and then milled it stacked it and let cure from 1994?  til last month.   I will post my final product in a few weeks but i am very happy i didn't stain just went with a wipe on Polly matte finish that's clear.  the wood grains really pop and it looks great.  thanks for all the advice.  

 

 

Chris

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