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Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

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Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Postby John Scime » Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:57 am

Has anyone out there tried salvaging mahogany from old damaged furniture? I was thinking of doing this in order to fashion a few cheap fretboards for some low-value project guitars and mandolins I'm currently working on. The mahogany would come from a bed headboard. Thoughts?

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Re: Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:52 am

A few years ago I went from this table found along the road


to this


The bodies were from the table, the necks and fret boards from some floor boards. Apparently there are many different woods known as "mahogany", and I think mine was probably Philippine mahogany or luan. It's not really hard enough for finger boards, but I used multiple coats of polyurethane on them and they've stood up OK.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it
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Re: Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Postby Bryan Bear » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:29 am

I wouldn't use mahogany for fretboards, I don't think it is hard enough to stand up to the wear.

As for using furniture wood for guitars, I say definitely maybe. Are you sure the furniture piece doesn't have any value as furniture? Is the wood in it of appropriate quality and cut properly for the new purpose? Often the panels in furniture are made from glue ups of narrower boards and you may not want to trust that glue line for your project. It is fun to re-purpose materials but you have to know what you are looking for. If you can see the project parts in the reclaimed wood, go for it. Sometimes, there is more waste than it is worth. . .

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Re: Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Postby Chris Reed » Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:00 am

I've recycled furniture for ukuleles, and am currently making a pair of guitars using largely wood from a mahogany wardrobe door.

The biggest problem is finding vertical grain wood. Most furniture is made from flat-sawn pieces (if it's solid wood at all). This can still work, but you have to design round the difficulties. For example, on the pair of guitars (which are all mahogany) I purchased vertical grain wood for the tops. The back and sides are flat-sawn from the wardrobe, so the back has a large dome to allow for the extra widthways movement due to humidity. I'm happy with this because the guitars will live in the UK, where humidity is reliably 50-80% year round. If they went to, say, Arizona they'd probably split!
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Re: Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Postby John Clifford » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:17 pm

In any event, we'd better get used to making guitars from recycled wood, because good new wood keeps getting harder to find and more expensive.
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Re: Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Mon Jun 25, 2018 12:46 pm

There is still a lot of good wood out there if you are willing to work with "non traditional" woods. Getting buyers to accept them may be the bigger problem. I am regluing matched veneer sheets to make up thicknesses appropriate for back and side sets. When I first started doing this (almost 20 years ago) people looked askance at it. Now many people are doing the same.
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