Tree Dictionary: M-O
- Mahogany, African
- Mahogany, American
- Maple, bigleaf
- Maple, red
- Maple, sugar
- Oak, red
- Oak, white
MAHOGANY, AFRICAN (Khaya spp.)
Other Names: Includes akuk, bandoro, benin mahogany, degema, lagos wood, acajou, khaya, Nigerian mahogany, Ivory Coast mahogany, and Gold Coast mahogany.
Range: Grows throughout West Africa.
Appearance: Interlocked or straight grain, often with a ribbon figure, and a moderately coarse texture. Creamy-white sapwood and reddish brown heartwood, often with a purple cast.
Physical Properties: Moderately heavy and hard with medium bending and crushing strength, low stiffness and shock resistance, moderate decay resistance, and good stability in use.
Working Properties: Works fairly easily although interlocked, woolly grain can be troublesome. Glues, nails, and screws satisfactorily. Stains and polishes to an excellent finish.
Uses: Used for furniture, cabinetry, high class joinery, interior trim, boat building, vehicle bodies, paneling, plywood, and decorative veneers.
MAHOGANY, AMERICAN (Swietenia macrophylla)
Other Names: Honduras mahogany, true mahogany, genuine mahogany, bigleaf mahogany, cao, caoba, cobano, acajou, and aguano.
Range: Grows from southern Mexico to Brazil.
Appearance: Generally straight grained, but sometimes roey, wavy, or curly, with a fine to coarse, uniform texture. Pale pink to dark reddish brown heartwood and yellowish white sapwood.
Physical Properties: Variable, but generally moderate weight, hardness, and strength. Low stiffness and shock resistance. Very good stability and decay resistance.
Working Properties: Excellent working properties, including cutting, turning, shaping, sanding, and gluing. Finishes easily with a variety of finishes, although filling may be required for ultimate smoothness.
Uses: Renowned for high-class cabinetry and furniture. Also used for paneling, turnery, carving, patterns, dies, model making, veneers, flooring, boat building, and musical instruments.
MAPLE, BIGLEAF (Acer macrophyllum)
Other Names: Broadleaf maple, Oregon maple, Pacific coast maple, western maple, white maple, or maple.
Range: Grows in western North America.
Appearance: Generally straight, but sometimes curly grained with a relatively coarse texture. Pale pinkish-brown to almost white sapwood and heartwood, often with a grayish cast.
Physical Properties: Moderately heavy, hard, strong, and stiff with low bending strength, shock resistance and decay resistance. Medium movement in use. Resists denting fairly well.
Working Properties: Generally machines satisfactorily although curly grain can present difficulties when planing. Bores and turns quite well. Glues easily and bonds well. Good nail and screw holding qualities with high resistance to splitting. Accepts stains evenly. Sands and polishes quite well with minimal “fuzzing”.
Uses: Often used for fine wood furniture and cabinets due to its uniform color. Also popular for innerplies in softwood plywood panels, pallets and paper products. Other uses include veneer, framing, lamps, drawer sides, interior construction, utility furniture, desks, chests, bent parts, and turnery.
MAPLE, RED (Acer rubrum)
Other Names: Soft maple, scarlet maple, swamp maple, and water maple.
Range: Grows throughout eastern North America.
Appearance: Straight, close grain with a fine, even texture. Wide, creamy white sapwood and beige or tan-colored heartwood.
Physical Properties: Moderately heavy, hard, strong, and stiff with low shock resistance and decay resistance, and medium movement in use.
Working Properties: Softer and weaker than hard maple but easier to work. Turns, planes, cuts, and otherwise machines well. Gluing is variable. Finishes easily without the need for filling. Not suitable for exterior projects due to low decay resistance.
Uses: Used for furniture, interior joinery, kitchen utensils, toys, novelties, turnery, musical instruments, sports goods, crates, pallets, flooring, furniture framing, and core stock.
Note: Commonly marketed as soft maple.
MAPLE, SUGAR (Acer saccharum)
Other Names: Hard maple, rock maple, sweet maple, and black maple.
Range: Grows throughout eastern North America.
Appearance: Straight, close grain with a fine, uniform texture. Nearly white sapwood, sometimes with a reddish tinge and light tannish heartwood.
Physical Properties: Heavy, hard, strong, and stiff with moderate shock resistance, low decay resistance, and medium movement in use.
Working Properties: Machines well, especially for turning, but is susceptible to burning and irregular grain can cause chip-out. Pre-drilling recommended for screwing or nailing. Glues well and finishes very smoothly.
Uses: Used for furniture, cabinetry, interior joinery, bowling pins, bowling lanes and other floors, school desks, ladder rungs, countertops, cutting boards, textile rollers, sports goods, stringed instruments, paneling, and decorative veneer.
Note: Commonly marketed as hard maple.
MESQUITE (Prosopis glandulosa)
Other Names: honey mesquite, common mesquite, velvet mesquite, algarobo, and honey pod.
Range: Grows in western United States, Central America, and South America.
Appearance: Medium to coarse texture with a fine, wavy, interlocked grain. Tan sapwood and light to dark brown heartwood, often with a golden hue. Sometimes resembles genuine mahogany.
Physical Properties: Heavy, hard, strong, and stiff (but brittle) with high stability in service and outstanding decay resistance.
Working Properties: Somewhat difficult to work due to hardness and cross-grain. Sands easily and finishes to a high polish. Glues, screws, and nails satisfactorily.
Uses: Used for fence posts (due to high decay resistance), turnery, gunstocks, knife handles, novelties, fireplace mantels, flooring, and furniture to a limited extent.
OAK, RED (Quercus rubra)
Other Names: Northern red oak, Eastern red oak, gray oak, American red oak, Canadian red oak, and mountain red oak.
Range: Grows in United States, Canada, and Europe.
Appearance: Straight grained with a coarse texture and prominent rays. Light reddish tan heartwood and narrow, almost white sapwood.
Physical Properties: Hard, strong, and stiff with moderate stability in use and little natural decay resistance.
Working Properties: Machines quite well but has tendency to splinter and chip – avoid cutting against the grain. Somewhat difficult to work by hand. Nails and screws satisfactorily although pre-drilling recommended. Glues satisfactorily. Finishes well with most stains and finishes but relatively large pores may require a filler.
Uses: Used for cabinets, furniture, millwork, musical instruments, plywood, flooring, turnery, boxes, caskets, pallets, heavy construction, and many other applications.
OAK, WHITE (Quercus alba)
Other Names: Eastern white oak, stave oak, ridge white oak, cucharillo, encino, and roble.
Range: Grows in United States and Canada.
Appearance: Straight grained with a medium-coarse to coarse texture. Light tannish heartwood with narrow, nearly white sapwood.
Physical Properties: Heavy, hard and strong with outstanding wear-resistance. Moderate stability in use. Very durable heartwood – ideal for casks and barrels.
Working Properties: Machines similarly to red oak but has greater tendency to chip and splinter. Turns well. Difficult to work by hand. Nails and screws satisfactorily although pre-drilling recommended. Glues satisfactorily. Stains and finishes well with no need to fill pores for smoothness. Contact with metal results in dark staining.
Uses: Uses include outdoor furniture, boats, cooperage, flooring, interior furniture – especially chairs and tables, turnery, baskets, trim, millwork, and veneers.
Note: Wood marketed as white oak may contain other white oak species but Quercus alba is primary species.