Philippine mahogany shortage?

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Philippine mahogany shortage?

Postby steve bunda » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:13 am

Word on the street is lumber suppliers running out of Philippine mahogany boat building lumber . This was brought to my attention on , Don D's. site. Have you checked your regional supplier?
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Postby Oberon01 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:00 am

Hi steve - I was advised of the same thing by Dave Jerome out in Portland a month or two back. I think he gets his through Edensaw (not sure of spelling) and he said there was none around. I don't know if this is a permanent shortage or what the story is though.
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Postby greglewand » Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:03 pm

I was made aware of the same shortage several months ago. I was recently told by a reliable source that it is all going to China.
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Postby Peter M Jardine » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:41 pm

What is Phillipine mahogany?
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Postby Doug P » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:00 am

Good Question
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Postby boat_art » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:20 am

Amazing what I have seen being sold as "Philippine Mahogany"
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Postby Oberon01 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:31 am

My understanding is that it "Phillipine mahohany" has more or less morphed into a colloquial term referencing and applied to several types of water-resistant hardwoods found in the Phillipines, primary but not alone among these being Meranti. From what I have read, these are very close to but are not actually mahogany, but were coined as such by CC early on as part of a marketing exercise. While these may not genetically be mahogany, it would appear through the history of use of these materials that they exhibit similar performance and the visual characteristics of actual mahogany and have now become more or less indistinguishable from it in the hobby boating community. Lots of people here will know more than I do, so I ask - is this brief summation accurate?
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Postby Doug P » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:45 am

Philippine mahogany is to wood as red twisters are to Licorice

http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/personal/woodpics/mahogany,%20philippine.htm
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Postby Peter M Jardine » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:47 am

I do know the answer: There is no such thing.

Bob Smalser, a third generation boatwright in the northwest US, and a frequent contributor to Fine Woodworking, gave me a tutorial on this a few years back. Additionally, I got information from the late Chuck Jones, a military consultant and boater who spent a lot of time in that part of Asia and witnessed lumber harvesting in the area in the 50's and 60's.

A lot of the wood used by Chris Craft was from the tree family Dipterocarpaceae, and the genus Shorea. There are a pile of species contained in this family... nearly 200. They are not mahoganies, but more closely described as a tropical cedar. Their color and density vary fairly widely, but they are not as heavy as either Khaya's or Swietania's, two the true mahoganies. A number of species in this family grow to 250 feet tall.

Here is the wiki entry, although it is brief, given the the number of species:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shorea

I've done a fair bit of research on this subject, and it's pretty dry, so I won't bore everyone. I do want to mention one specific species of Shorea: Tanquile, or Shorea Polysperma. Chuck Jones told me of this species, and witnessed it being harvested. He also knew that much of it headed for the US. (Can you say 'Millions of board feet'?) Tanquile as a mature Shorea species was slightly denser than most of that family, and exhibited a deeper red as well. It also exhibited a curious reflective sheen when finished well. (Ring any bells? :wink: ) Mature forests were found in the Phillipines particularly, but additional timber was harvested all over Southeast Asia. Mature trees were up to 200 feet tall, and had few flaws in cut lumber.

Tanquile no longer exists for practical purposes. It is on the threatened species list, and despite replanting efforts, it will never be a significant lumber in a couple of lifetimes. The Phillipines no longer export it. It was the King of the Shorea family, and was well used by CC.

IMHO, the two best replacements are of the Khaya genus, (Africa Mahogany), and of course Swietania, which contains the true 'Honduras' mahogany species.

If you want too much info on Khaya, here you go. This thesis gives you more information on Khaya that you would ever want:

http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/ ... Q33365.pdf

The bottom line is this: Lumberyards look at relative properties before they will classify species absolutely. Many of the Shorea species look like 'mahogany', have great physical properties, and good fungi and rot resistance. So do a number of other
species. There is some amount of Swietania coming out of South America, but the Khaya family is the most available lumber I have seen in the northeast US and Canada. Are we going to run out of the quality we see in CC boats? You bet we are, in fact, we already have. Old growth forests are just that, they take a loooong time to mature, and a forest that takes 1000 years to grow doesn't get replaced.
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Postby maritimeclassics » Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:25 pm

So is the mahogany that Chris Craft used really the same stuff I have been buying called philipine mahogany red meranti? I realize that it is not a true mahogany but rather closer the the cedar family but that is what they call it. I got some not to long and it was really nice stuff, some boards 18'' and one 20'' with beautiful ribbon grain to it. I would think that those came from rather large trees. Thx
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Postby Peter M Jardine » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:04 pm

Red Meranti is one of the Shorea family. From what I have heard, a lot of shorea family can provide good lumber, particularly if it's old growth timber.

Once a lot of these species are sawn into lumber, it can be really difficult for even a learned wood expert to tell the difference. I have read that colors can differ quite widely within the same species, let alone the age of the tree.

The king of the mahoganies has always been said to be Swietenia Macrophylla or Honduras mahogany, Big leaf mahogany, and several other names.
It has been restricted cutting since 2003. The only really good news is that Swietenia is an invasive species. It grows quickly,and survives competition with other flora. Swietenia has been successfully introduced in several Southeast Asian countries as a plantation tree and has even been ruled an invasive species in the Phillipines. With good management, that might spell some relief for those of us who need mahogany for boatbuilding purposes.
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Postby steve bunda » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:32 pm

Lite red and dark red meranti is widely know as Philippine mahogany , may be incorrect as a genesis term,but that is just what it is has been called. Here is a picture of a few planks book matched for a bottom. This is the wood that is no longer being imported to the states. I think it is now going to China and Japan. The whole world wood market is going to see a huge price increase due to shortages. The shortages are a result of many factors including , reduction of exports from Russia, a wood bug in British Columbia reducing Canadian exports , and poor forestry management in the federal forests that reduced the allowable cut. If you haven't noticed home construction lumber is at an all time high.
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Postby Doug P » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:17 pm

Lumber prices are up because of Sandy and low supply.
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Postby SteveH » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:25 pm

This meranti ply was sourced from the same mill and arrived in the same shipment. Went through 50 sheets to get at the 4 or 5 sheets of the red stuff. The lighter color I call "paper bag" meranti. You can see the variation in the unfinished scarf joint then the finished planks. On a small boat build, you can strategically create some nice contrasts. Much of the lumber was the lighter variety.
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Postby Don Vogt » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:55 am

maybe to add to the confusion? generally, the cc wood was often referred to as dark red lauan, but as pointed out it is not a true mahogany. So if you see that term it is referencing the shorea species obtained from the Phillipines.
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Postby Peter M Jardine » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:40 pm

Lauan is still a big export, because it can be plantation grown, and is a fast growing species. Probably one of the biggest differences with today's material is the age of the tree. A lot of CC's material in the 40's and 50's was absolutely premium quality old growth timber. There a lot of it around then too..... not any more. If anyone thinks that North American forests were mismanaged, it doesn't compare with the devastation of old growth rain forest in the third world.
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Lauan

Postby steve bunda » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:41 am

The difficult thing is to find boat building lumber in log and wide lengths. Got Wood? :lol:
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Postby tph » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:09 am

Steve,
I'm coming to your shop to get wood.
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Postby steve bunda » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:25 am

Hi Tom, PLease bring along a set of frames for one of
those prewar racing runabouts that you make. :D ..steve
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Re: Lauan

Postby Peter M Jardine » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:30 am

steve bunda wrote:The difficult thing is to find boat building lumber in log and wide lengths. Got Wood? :lol:
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by golly, that be a nice little pile of wood :shock: :D

I try try to buy mahog, white oak, ash, (frankly, almost anything) if the price is right. I've never bought quite that much at one time tho :wink:
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Postby kenmarx » Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:24 pm

i was told by supplier in twin city's that they outlaw cutting mahogany in lot of south american countrys.
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