Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

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John Scime
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:04 pm
Location: Mississippi Mills, Ontario

Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Post by John Scime »

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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Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1166
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Post by Peter Wilcox »

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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Bryan Bear
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:05 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Post by Bryan Bear »

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. . .

Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you.

Chris Reed
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:26 pm

Re: Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Post by Chris Reed »

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!

John Clifford
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Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:08 pm

Re: Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Post by John Clifford »

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.

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1491
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: Salvaging mahogany from old furniture?

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

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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