What wood is 'mahogany' from the 1950s?

Fori is not pleasedFebruary 1, 2012

Hi y'all.

I'm contemplating an addition to my 1950s house and want to match the new window and door casings to the old. I was told it's mahogany and it looks like mahogany to me but is it mahogany mahogany? Was Philippine "mahogany" being used in the 50s? Is it stable? This stuff still has tight joints (we do have a bland climate so maybe that doesn't mean much).

Is there any way to ID the species? And actually it doesn't matter--what would be a decent match for this? Thanks!

The colors are fairly accurate. The curved bits especially can have a nice cat eye effect when the light hits them right.

(Yes, it needs cleanup--the first 2 photos are in a window that gets blasted with sunlight several hours a day. The last, well, just grubby and don't get me started on what the POs did with the walls...)

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Looks like actual mahogany.

Honduran mahogany should match well with the finish you have.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 10:27AM
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Check out Sapele, too. You may be sticker shocked by the true Mahogany prices.

Sapele looks like Mahogany. Often the 4/4 S3S is much better quality lumber with fewer imperfections than the Mahogany. Nobody will notice the wood is different unless the boards are butted side by side.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:39AM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks guys!

Now that I think about it, I have plenty of spare casing in the closets if I need it (the builder didn't paint the insides of the closets but cased them all pretty) but the jamb (?) or other parts will take some matching.

I'll look into sapele too for a match. It doesn't have to be perfect, and it doesn't have to be mahogany. Most people think it's awful anyway. :(

I really like how this mahogany has held up. Every other surface in this house is dented and angled, but the doorways are solid. Filthy, but intact.

Now, as far as doors go, the originals are hollow veneered slab falling apart doors. Is it mahogany? Luaun? Does anyone do solid wood for interior doors these days? Cuz these aren't holding up:

Any recommendations for close-enough doors? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Luan is generally another name for Phillipine Mahogany veneers which is what your doors are. Phillipine Mahogany at a lumberyard should not be that expensive and would actually be called "Genuine Mahogany" in this day and age. Sapelle while not a bad wood is generally not as stable nor durable. However it would be fine for interior trim but will not match your existing trim as well as philipine mahogany.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 1:09PM
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fori - that is definitely mahogany, and it has a grain that is much tighter, straighter and has fewer knots, waves than the stuff you can get off of the lumber racks in most major cities today.

Today's stuff (which is not as pretty) goes for $6 - $10 a board foot. You are sitting on $10,000 - $30,000 worth of raw material if you have a typical 3/2 or 4/3 house from the 50's. especially if some of the walls were paneled in the stuff. That was an upgrade even back then.

The sunlight is oxidizing (darkening) the wood it hits, it probably is not that dirty. Some of the stuff from the era can be a golden yellow to orange color instead of the typical reddish brown color usually associated with mahogany.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 7:06PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks for the info.

All the homes (over 1800) in my subdivision were trimmed out like this. Guess we were upscale. :) The paneling was probably an option. Our paneling was thoroughly trashed and painted over by the POs but our neighbors still have theirs and it's gorgeous. I love that midcentury orange glow.

Very few of these homes still have their woodwork, and most of what's left is painted. Perhaps I should keep an eye out for locals remodeling and do some dumpster diving. I was so tempted a few weeks ago when I saw MY front door (but in better condition) being tossed...of course it's pine. Apparently trimmed in mahogany. I might have to upgrade that.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 3:24PM
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