Historically, perhaps the most celebrated and revered cabinet and furniture wood in the world. Cuban Mahogany has been used extensively in cabinetry and furniture-making for centuries in Europe and the United States, being harvested to the point of complete depletion. Nearly 100 years ago, H.O. Neville wrote of the wood’s exploitation in his 1919 work, Hardwoods of Cuba:
For domestic purposes, the Mahogany is used in such freedom that it seems sacrilege to the newcomer from the North, who has known this wood only in its finished and very expensive forms. Many hundreds of cords of this timber, ranging from 12 inches in diameter down, are annually burned under the boilers of our sugar mills and locomotives: hundreds of trees of the proper sizes are annually cut down and rough-hewed into railroad ties; and for posts, corralled fences, and the myriad other uses of the plantation, Mahogany is utilized. There will come a day not very far distant when the waste of this valuable timber will be regretted.
In 1946, Cuba banned all exporting of the wood due to over-harvesting and high demand; it has also been in scarce supply from other sources in the Caribbean as well. Today, the lumber has become so obscure that the term “Genuine Mahogany” now applies almost exclusively to its close substitute, Honduran Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), rather than the Cuban wood that for centuries has simply been referred to as “Mahogany.”
Cuban Mahogany’s easy workability, combined with its beauty and phenomenal stability have made this lumber an enduring favorite.