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Entandrophragma utile

Entandrophragma utile of the family Meliaceae, the mahogany family.

Also known as utile, this common mahogany-related African hardwood sometimes looks a lot like plain sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum) and can have a very attractive grain pattern, but does not generally achieve anything like the stunning figure varieties (quilted, pomelle, etc.) that one frequently finds in sapele. It is reportedly difficult to dry well but it has many common uses in Africa and I can confirm that it is very easy and pleasant to work with once seasoned.

Cosipo (Entandrophragma candollei), a close relative of sipo, also has a page on this site.

my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K)
colors will vary under other lighting conditions

planks and end grain of each --- as you can see, the 2nd plank is perfectly quartersawn and has ray flakes (see closer pic directly below). The upper plank looks almost exactly like some pieces of sapele I've seen.

closeup of the side grain with ray flakes

closeups of both end grains of the planks directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

a couple of small planks cut from a larger one (not the same as any of the other samples on this page)

end grain closeups of the pieces directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE of the pieces directly above

a couple of pieces of a large plank, and end grain of each. The heavy orange tint on these is unusual but it's really there in the wood.

both sides of a small plank cut from the same larger one as the two directly above

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

side grain and side grain closeup of the piece directly above

both sides of a sample plank of sipo / Entandrophragma utile --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This vendor of samples is often very careless, and occasionally downright dishonest, in his use of names, but this one absolutely takes the cake. It is so egregious that it is hilarious. There are a couple of knots in the sample and if you use your imagination, you COULD see one of them as being the same shape as the eye of a bird. SO ... he calls this "bird's eye" sipo. Amazing.

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

probably not actually sipo

The following statement in my wood anatomy article was about one of these (and one piece of sapele) but I think it applies to both of them

These two pieces were sold to me as sapele and sipo, respectively, BUT ... as you can see, they have end grain characteristics that are (1) identical to each other and (2) NOT the same as EITHER sapele OR sipo. These include (1) multitudinous parenchyma bands, (2) numerous fairly long radial pore multiples, (3) even the pores that are not in radial multiples are mostly in radial strands, and (4) rays are barely discernible even with a 10X loupe. SO ... I'm dubious that these are either sapele OR sipo, BUT ... it is possible that they are some related species that is lumped in with either sapele or sipo, whichever happens to be what the loggers are supposed to be cutting that day. I also noticed in the face grain of both of these planks that they are lighter and show less grain on flat cut surfaces than what is generally the case for both sapele and sipo.

plank and end grain.

end grain closeup of the piece directly above

plank and end grain

end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- the right side of this is not sanded properly and does not show the fine grain detail well but the left and center do

web pics:

plank listed as sipo / Entandrophragma utile and that has wet and dry sections

planks listed as sipo / Entandrophragma utile

planks --- I believe that the top surface of all of these has been moistened for the pics --- the first plank is all sapwood and the rest have both sapwood and heartwood.


plank listed as utile

quartersawn planks showing the nifty small but very vibrant ray flakes that you sometimes get in this wood. For more of that, check out my bowl at the bottom of the page.

ribbon stripe planks --- either these have been moistened for the pic or the color is oversaturated. That is, the color is too rich for raw wood


both sides of one plank and a closeup of another plank --- these were both from the same vendor, who states that the "inclusions" (bark inclusions?) are common in the species --- I think this HAS to be the case of the common name sipo being used for a different species as these certainly don't look like any sipo I've ever seen, nor have I ever seen any sipo with such inclusions.

sipo bowl (base is mahogany) --- highly chatoyant with tight ray flakes (see enlargement of 1st pic)