Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a golden to dark reddish brown. Color tends to darken with age. Besides the common ribbon pattern seen on quartersawn boards, Sapele is also known for a wide variety of other figured grain patterns, such as: pommele, quilted, mottled, wavy, beeswing, and fiddleback.
Grain/Texture:Grain is interlocked, and sometimes wavy. Fine uniform texture and good natural luster.
Endgrain:Diffuse-porous; large pores in no specific arrangement, few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; reddish brown deposits occasionally present; parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates, unilateral, and marginal; rays narrow to medium, spacing normal; ripple marks present.
Rot Resistance:Heartwood ranges from moderately durable to very durable in regard to decay resistance. Moderate insect/borer resistance.
Workability:Sapele can be troublesome to work in some machining operations, (i.e., planing, routing, etc.), resulting in tearout due to its interlocked grain. It will also react when put into direct contact with iron, becoming discolored and stained. Sapele has a slight blunting effect on cutters, but it turns, glues, and finishes well.
Odor:Sapele has a distinct, cedar-like scent while being worked.
Pricing/Availability:Should be moderately priced for regular plainsawn or quartersawn lumber, though figured lumber and veneer can be extremely expensive, particularly pommele or quilted Sapele.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.
Common Uses:Veneer, plywood, furniture, cabinetry, flooring, boatbuilding, musical instruments, turned objects, and other small wooden specialty items.