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Old 06-10-2021, 06:08 PM   #1
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Sepale (African Mahogany)

Good evening.

I wanted to post some feedback on a recent project failure using sapele. (Not a total failure, im determining if its salvageable now)

I found an old fiberglass lapstreak dinghy hull (10ft) that had a bad transom and the rubrails were rotted off.

I have found some dinghys in this condition in the past in this condition, and I have had an easy time bringing them back. (See first pics of an example).

I use an electric chainsaw to clear out the old transom wood (between the inner and outer fiberglass) and then use copper rivets to attach gunwales/inwhales and bronze screws for the quarternees and breast hook. I even made up my own bronze u bolts and cutwaters.

This time I used sepale (instead of white oak or teak)
I steamed it on the boat (see pic) and it was a bear to deal with. (4xs the effort). I got it done so pic when I dropped in water to set the rowlock locations.

I let it sit n the dock and season out a little but so i could make the final adjustments to the wood before i set out the oar locks. (Wood tends to “settle” after a week or so and waiting helps before you do the final planing/sanding.

The sepale is tearing itself apart as it seasoned. It cracking/checking and want to go back to its “straight” shape.

Now the boat has some curves, so i was asking alot, but did not expect the post- installation checking.

I got the sapele for free, and learned my lesson. Never again. I did not mind it was a bitch to install, just that it checked after. (All wood moves a bit, but this is at a new level)

I can get it to work and we beat up our dinghies, so I'm not a perfectionist.

Just an FYI. SEPALE =No Bueno (for rub rails)
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Old 06-10-2021, 06:49 PM   #2
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First thing, this wood is named Sapele not Sepale
I would then rather say that Sapele is "no bueno", to use your expression, for the usage you tried it.
Usually it has interlocked grain that build a lot of tension in the wood so when you resaw it or bend it you get the result you got.
Still this is a very nice wood for cabinetry.

L
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Old 06-10-2021, 06:52 PM   #3
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Lou_tribal - First thing, this wood is named Sapele not Sepale -

Lol. Thx. Must be from the trauma. Lol.

Cant change the title though.
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Old 06-10-2021, 06:59 PM   #4
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I think your wood must have been wet. I helped build a 16’ strip planked skiff from Sapele and it was very nice to work with. No problem with checking.

Photos of the build: https://jmlynn.smugmug.com/Boats/Lobster-Skiff/

The boat is for sale. My friend is asking $12,200.00. It is located in South Florida. Includes a good trailer and low hour Honda 30.
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:24 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input. Beautiful boat. (Actually a really beautiful boat). My pop built something similar when we were kids. Lasted 30 years before he gave it to someone. Lol.

It was dry, but I steamed it. I think a 3 dimensional twist did me in. (The single board twisted along the lateral curve of the boat fine, but it also had to curve vertically up to the front of the boat. The places where it had a “3D twist” is where it is tearing itself apart. (Generally around the oar locks)

Im just guessing though.
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:43 PM   #6
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I did not try to bend it, but as Lou said, it works quite nicely for cabinetry. My Hatt is trimmed out mostly in Afromosia and Sapele is close enough, locally (to me) available and not too $$. Here's my latest project: https://ladykay.blog/salon-cabinets/
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oscar View Post
I did not try to bend it, but as Lou said, it works quite nicely for cabinetry. My Hatt is trimmed out mostly in Afromosia and Sapele is close enough, locally (to me) available and not too $$. Here's my latest project: https://ladykay.blog/salon-cabinets/
Nice! It is a beautiful wood. Super nice grain. Someone gave me a piece of 16x10x5/4 and with its hardness rating, I was thinking “rubrails!!!!” Lmao.

Im using the remainder for interior work.
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oscar View Post
I did not try to bend it, but as Lou said, it works quite nicely for cabinetry. My Hatt is trimmed out mostly in Afromosia and Sapele is close enough, locally (to me) available and not too $$. Here's my latest project: https://ladykay.blog/salon-cabinets/
Very nice! I see you suffer the same problem as most wood workers, not enough clamps.😁
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:52 PM   #9
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Aren't African Mahogany and Sapele different species?

I recently used Sapele in a very different application than you, interior trim. It worked out really nicely and matched the old Mahogany well.
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gkesden View Post
Aren't African Mahogany and Sapele different species?



I recently used Sapele in a very different application than you, interior trim. It worked out really nicely and matched the old Mahogany well.
More than one wood are called by the "nickname" African Mahogany, like Sapele or Khaya.

L
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Lou_tribal View Post
More than one wood are called by the "nickname" African Mahogany, like Sapele or Khaya.

L
Interesting. I thought only Khaya is marketed as African Mahogany. I didn't think Sapele was even in the Mahogany family, just thought it had similar properties. I guess this isn't exactly a regulated space. :-(
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Old 06-11-2021, 08:01 AM   #12
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Above has it right change in water content caused your problems. One of the reasons white oak is so good for steam bending. Amazing amount of work went into your project. Must be heart breaking to have your problems.

Several ways to go. It’s the rub rails that’s the real problem.
Leave rest as is. Replace rub rails with oak.
Use epoxy and clamps or Dutchman in new pieces to fix existing rub rails and ?paint them to hide repairs.
Use epoxy and screws to fix rub rails and cover with canvas.

Personally I’d probably replace with white oak. You obviously know how to do it, have the tools and jigs and depending on how you stain/finish the contrast might be real pretty.

We had left over balau from a deck for our dirt dwelling . Tried to make kayak long term storage racks from it. Couldn’t do it. Just took multiple sheets of left over standard exterior plywood and scroll saw to follow the contours and glued/screwed them together. These exotic woods require knowledge I don’t have. They dull blades in two seconds. They shatter when machined. They can’t be torture bended and hold the new shape. They’re hard to stain evenly. Incredible durable and beautiful but so hard to work with. Even have to be careful with google to learn. The same name can be used for different woods and a particular wood can have different names.
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Old 06-11-2021, 09:16 AM   #13
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Yeah. You hit it in the head. Im not too disappointed since I knew I was taking a risk. The wood was free and copper rivers are cheap. I have some (couple hundred board feet) of long (14ft) Burmese teak I could put on it, but have been saving that.

I have some white oak I’ll use. Wish I had some ash. Really like ashwood, but cant find it in length in Long Island anymore
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Old 06-11-2021, 09:16 AM   #14
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Live and learn. Thanks for the lesson.

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