Tips for Buying Mahogany Furniture
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When it comes to buying furniture, getting the right materials is a very big part of the puzzle. Just like the design itself, some beautiful furniture materials, some trendy, and some classics. Classic materials have a natural advantage because they have a track record that is very desirable over time. Pieces of classic wooden furniture are generally worth the time, cost, and energy to recover them, and they may increase in value over time.
Mahogany is one of the classic furniture materials. This durable hardwood has long been used to make some of the best furniture in the world, which means it is also one of the more expensive furniture to buy. So, if you have budget constraints (and don’t we all?), It’s a good idea to be careful when choosing mahogany furniture.
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The term mahogany is a little confusing because it is currently used to refer to both native South American mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) and African species (Khaha spp.) Which have been largely replaced by South American mahogany. Since 2003, when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora Species (CITES) listed South American mahogany in the list of endangered species, African mahogany has become the most widely used substitute.
Today, African mahogany is most often sold and used, but old furniture often features authentic South American mahogany. The difference is not very important when buying wood for woodworking, because both types of mahogany have the same features and work in the same way. However, you must be aware that there is still disruptive worldwide trade in South American mahogany that is illegally harvested from the rainforest, and when buying new furniture, it is a good idea to verify that the wood used is from an approved source.
Whatever species is used, mahogany is known to have a straight, smooth level, and is quite free from defects and knots. The reddish brown color of the Mahogany tends to be dark from time to time, and when polished, it produces a very attractive reddish. The wood is very durable and has good work ability. Because the tree is big, the boards used in woodworking can be very wide. All of these properties make mahogany a favorite wood species for all types of woodwork and furniture making. High-end commercial cabinet makers such as Chippendale and Sheraton use mahogany as a substitute for rare walnuts in many furniture.
Why Buy Mahogany Furniture?
Because of the timeless character of mahogany, furniture made of wood tends to look traditional. This makes it an excellent choice for classic and traditional room designs, where the timeless beauty of wood gives a feel of elegance and sophistication. But as an accent, a touch of mahogany here and there can also add a measure of warmth, life, and depth to a contemporary room designed with cool neutral colors. Best of all, mahogany furniture is very durable. Chairs, tables and other home furniture made from mahogany will last a lifetime and must be considered an investment.
Consider adding a few mahogany accents, such as a sofa table or nightstand on mahogany if you have a limited budget or if your room is decorated in a different style. Dining room tables and cabinets made of mahogany are a very good investment because these large pieces immediately attract attention. Each piece of furniture with ornate carvings will add interest and instant drama.
What to look for
There is controversy surrounding the harvest of mahogany for furniture handicraft purposes. Excessive harvesting and illegal logging in parts of the Peruvian Amazon and elsewhere disturb this industry. Some furniture manufacturers, such as IKEA, choose not to sell furniture made of mahogany for this reason. Some furniture is made with mahogany veneers rather than solid mahogany to limit the use of mahogany. Or, instead of using South American mahogany, many furniture makers turn to other species that have similar properties. Among the wood marketed as mahogany are sapele, utile, Spanish cedar, and, most commonly, Khaya (African mahogany). African Mahogany is a completely different species, but it has a very similar appearance and working characteristics, and this is not an endangered species. When in doubt, ask the seller whether the wood used is restricted South American mahogany or whether it is African mahogany or other species.
Be aware that any furniture or wood that is marketed as “Filipino mahogany” is not real mahogany, but lauan – material from different plant families, not hard mahogany trees.
Not all South American mahogany is harvested illegally, and you can ethically buy pieces of authentic South American mahogany if you are looking for evidence that renewable harvesting practices are used. For example, the Rainforest Alliance organization offers to Rainforest Alliance Certified ™ timber companies that timber is harvested using responsible and renewable practices. Other certification programs also exist from other Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) members.
If you buy antique furniture and want to make sure you get authentic South American mahogany, look for a sticker that shows the “real mahogany” issued by the Mahogany Association. The association, which operated in the early to mid 20th century, was created to help buyers distinguish between solid mahogany pieces and other wood that was colored to look like mahogany. Even the antique furniture market, however, can be criticized, because some people will argue that the high demand for antique mahogany furniture helps trigger the illegal harvest of endangered rainforest mahogany.
In the end, your conscience must guide you about how comfortable you are to have furniture made from rainforest wood. If this is a moral issue for you, there are a number of choices, such as making sure your furniture uses African mahogany or FSC-certified South American mahogany.
Get a Good Price
Mahogany furniture is very expensive. Consider buying used items from plantation sales, antique exhibits, or vintage flea markets. Large estates will often auction furniture and will advertise auctions in newspapers or online notifications. If you can’t find furniture at auction, pay attention to whether the business buys the entire estate – you might be able to get a side deal with the mahogany furniture that you like. Large antique shows or flea markets, such as the Brimfield Market that are held every year in Connecticut, are excellent places to look for discounts, bargains, and sales.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices. Flea markets are one place where you don’t always have to pay the price of a sticker. Bargaining is a skill and for the winner goes the best furniture.
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