Quilted mahogany, commonly called “THE TREE” has become legendary since 1965 when it was felled in the Chiquibul jungle. Fine Woodworking featured an article in 1985 relating the astonishing story of “the tree’s” journey and obstacles to be overcome transporting it to the USA.
I have updated the history from 1985 to the present time. If anyone wants a copy please e-mail me – firstname.lastname@example.org
The end of “The Tree” supply line is perilously close at hand, so much so, I have been reduced to crafting pieces out of offcuts. Picture one shows an octagonal coffee/end table top using eight 3/8” thick quilted mahogany with contrasting figuring surrounded by Maplewood and inlaid by purchased marquetry. Sanding was to 1000 grit. A one coat shellac finish was applied followed by 12 coats of Mcclusky’s varnish with wet and dry 220 grit sanding between coats.
The final finish copied the old furniture maker’s technique used by Sheraton and Chippendale - light oil combined with very fine rottenstone then hand burnished.
The last hurrah! The initial yield of “The Tree” was 11,000 BF. The finest figuring was either a tortoise shell or attractive waves of golden hue contrasted with browns and reds. To see a finished piece of furniture or a guitar is a dream any lover of wood should desire. The second picture shows part of a panel in an English bar.
My research indicates, after almost a half century, approximately 0.018% of the original tree is left available. Unlike gold and platinum there will likely be no more supply available in our lifetimes. I found one hoarder of wood with a very large board which would market for a modest $135,000. Another source has a beautiful board valued at approximately $110,000. After Mark Berry had his 1986 article published in Fine Woodworking prices raised dramatically to $130.00 BF – now a steel but impossible to buy. Between 2005 and 2008 this rare quilted mahogany changed hands at over $600.00 BF some being traded by a Family Woodworking member. The latest actual sales price for a piece of quilted mahogany suitable for guitar or furniture making was over $1000.00 BF. There is one (the last) board available which would make 4/5 guitars or small items of furniture (Picture 3).
In my estimation with, such a small inventory, current eco concerns and no future supply, prices will double within the next two years.
Anyone owning small pieces of this precious commodity – please let me know?