The timber is light red to dark reddish-brown usually with
a purplish cast. The distinct sapwood is white or pale yellow. The grain
is interlocked, sometimes wavy, producing a narrow, uniform figure when
quartersawn. It has a cedar-like aromatic odor. The taste is not distinct.
The texture is medium, and the luster
is high and golden. The timber is in the same strength class
as oak, being considerably stronger than either African or American mahogany.
Sapele is not difficult to work but will take the edge off tools more quickly than African mahogany. In planing and molding, the surface is likely to tear due to the interlocked grain.
Glued joints are sound and nails and screws hold firmly but thin stock may split during nailing. The timber responds excellently to stain and polish treatment, but the finish
may be non-uniform if the wood has not been properly surfaced.
Since sapele belongs to the same botanical family as true
mahogany, its uses are very similar. Uses include furniture and cabinetry,
decorative veneers, paneling, flooring and plywood. It is widely used in
joinery items such as staircases and window frames.