mahogany vs walnut

Mahogany VS Walnut: Pros and Cons When Woodworking

Mahogany VS Walnut: Pros & Cons For Woodworking

When you’re selecting a hardwood, it’s important to know which wood is best suited for which project. I know it can be confusing with all the selections available. I remember many years ago the homes I lived in as a child had mahogany baseboards, casings, and doors. 

It wasn’t until I was an adult and interested in woodworking that I found out just how excellent this wood is. Walnut, don’t sell yourself short either. I will discuss both of these woods below so you have a firm grasp on which of these would be the right choice for your project. 

Mahogany VS Walnut which is better? It truly depends on your project. Both of these hardwoods have their place in the world of woodworking, sometimes overlapping on projects like cutting boards. Walnut is a bit harder and better suited for flooring than Mahogany, although Mahogany is still an excellent option. Both Mahogany and Walnut are used in furniture pieces.  

Now you have a bit of a glimpse into the high-level uses of mahogany and walnut. For the rest of this article, I will go over the most popular uses of each wood as well as answer other questions that I found online which I felt needed to be answered. Let’s get started. 

Mahogany vs Walnut Hardness (Which Wood Is Harder?)

First of all, yes, both of these woods are hardwoods. It is worth mentioning that not all hardwoods are the same hardness. They will all range in different hardness levels. 

Walnut is a harder hardwood than Mahogany. That being said, walnut is not the hardest hardwood, for instance, oak is harder than a walnut. 

Mahogany hardness will differ depending on which continent it is sourced from. The Mahogany that is grown in South America is usually not quite as hard as its African counterpart. Growing conditions play a big role in this outcome. 

Popular Woodworking Uses for Mahogany and Walnut 

Mahogany 

  • Boats because of its grain, mahogany keeps the water where it should be – on the outside of the boat. 
  • Musical instruments such as violins, guitars and pianos can be made of mahogany as this hardwood helps create a warmer tone than other hardwoods.
  • Furniture is a popular choice for mahogany. Fine pieces are often crafted with this hardwood. Solid mahogany pieces of furniture fetch a much higher price than furniture crafted with mahogany veneer, however those pieces are also quite sought after.  
  • Pens are widely crafted in home workshops as well as mass produced using mahogany. These high end pens are a joy to use and showcase. 
  • Flooring is another place you will find mahogany. In my region, it is not as popular as other hardwood floors like maple and oak, however you can find it. It is not mistakable when you come across it. It is a beautiful product to display and finish for flooring. 
  • Cutting boards are yet another popular use for mahogany. You can make a cutting board with just mahogany alone, however craftsmen and customers favor the boards being created with multiple types of hardwoods. Mahogany and walnut are two very popular choices. 

There are of course so many different things you could craft out of mahogany, so don’t let this list limit your ideas. Next up is walnut uses. 

Walnut

  • Furniture tops the list of uses for walnut. This very dense hardwood is an excellent choice for furniture for a couple of reasons, it is extremely durable because of how hard it is and resists dents, it shines up so nicely and takes finishes so well you might think this wood was created for this specific purpose. 
  • Wood carvings are also made from walnut because of its finely grained makeup, which makes it an excellent product to use for carvings. To add to that as previously mentioned, walnut is also an excellent wood for finishing, as it takes color quite well and shines up beautifully. Make note though that there are a few different types of walnut and black walnut is the preferred choice for carvers.  
  • Turned bowls on the lathe. For the same reason that carvers like using walnut, you can find woodworkers creating beautiful bowls on their lathes out of walnut. 
  • Musical instruments. Walnut is another excellent choice for creating musical instruments, such as guitars and pianos. You will find that the notes are slightly different than that of instruments made using mahogany.  
  • Flooring & cabinets. This should be a no-brainer, as most hardwoods are available as hardwood flooring. Walnut is a bit harder than mahogany and should be a bit more durable. Cabinets made with walnut, whether solid wood cabinets or walnut veneer, are going to have a nice finish and are very durable as well. 
  • Cutting boards. As mentioned in the mahogany section, walnut makes an excellent choice for a cutting board. Mix a few different hardwoods in with walnut and just like that you will have a beautiful piece of art to cut your veggies on!

I could keep going for both mahogany and walnut but you should see now that these woods are used in some similar ways. Let’s take a look at a few more things comparing these two hardwoods. 

Mahogany VS Walnut Color

Naturally, the color of mahogany is a reddish-brown. As with most trees, the coloring is not consistent throughout the trunk, displaying some light and some darker areas. Make note that the color mahogany you find in paint is not the exact color of every mahogany tree grown. Of course with products like paint, the color will be consistent, unlike cutting into a tree and finding different shades of the color.  

Walnut can be found in different shades of brown, from a light brown to a very deep brown with a purple hue. This is one of the reasons it gets selected for furniture and flooring as often as it does. It provides versatility and fits a wider range of styles.

Is Walnut Heavier Than Mahogany?

The answer is yes, walnut is heavier than mahogany. It only makes sense considering that walnut is a more dense wood that it be heavier. 

Do Walnut and Mahogany Go Together?

Most definitely these hardwoods can go together, in things like cutting boards or other woodworking projects.  However! When you are talking about things like fine furniture or flooring, be cautious because mahogany has a red undertone whereas walnut has a purple undertone. These colors do not typically go together.   

Cost Difference between Mahogany and Walnut [Which is More Expensive?]

Cutting right to the chase here, you can expect to pay more money for walnut lumber and products than mahogany. They are still both expensive, however walnut is usually just more expensive. 

Is Walnut Better Than Mahogany?

I think this question should be answered by you. What makes a product better to you? For me, I think of quality and durability, which both of these woods possess. I feel the choice between the two should be decided based on which of these hardwoods is best for the project at hand. 

Personally, I like both and I would definitely look at what my project is before deciding which one is better. Having said that, honestly, I really like the look of mahogany. It doesn’t mean mahogany is better, it’s just my opinion.

Conclusion

When it comes to mahogany vs walnut, either wood is an excellent choice to work with or have furniture, flooring or other products made out of. A lot of similar projects can be completed using either hardwood. The one thing I personally would be focusing on with these two woods is which one looks the best for my project. This includes both color and texture.

I trust I have offered you some helpful information in this article and now when you head down to the lumber yard or furniture store, identifying either of these products will be much easier. Deciding on which hardwood is best for you should be easier as well. Good luck and thanks for reading. 

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Hey, this is Brian and Gene Luoma. Since the two of us have pretty much been self-employed our entire lives, we have a lot of experience designing and creating all sorts of DIY projects for businesses and homes—projects that have helped us make money or save money through the years!

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