Wood is always regarded as a premium material, especially if the wood itself is of high quality. Our two examples of high-quality wood today are mahogany and walnut.
If you’re trying to choose one of these two for your home furniture but don’t have enough information to decide, then you’ve come to the right place.
What’s the difference between mahogany and walnut? Mahogany has a reddish brown color and is slightly lighter, less dense, and less expensive than walnut, which has a brown color with light and dark shading. As far as durability and workability are concerned, the difference between the two is minimal, so the choice comes down to personal preference.
If you would like a more in-depth look at these premium woods, then read on. We’ll discuss their characteristics and their applications and end with a quick verdict.
Differences Between Mahogany and Walnut
|Color||Reddish brown||Light to dark brown|
|Grain||Close-grained hardwood||Close-grained hardwood|
|Hardness/Density||900 lbf / 31-53 lb./cu. ft.||1,010 lbf / 40-43 lb./cu. ft.|
|Weight||31-33 lb./cu. ft.||36-38 lb./cu. ft.|
|Price (approximate)||$4.30 – $8 / 4 x 4 piece||$4.70 – $11 / 4 x 4 piece|
Mahogany vs. Walnut
We’re going to discuss the main differences between mahogany and walnuts woods in detail. Let’s begin with the most obvious thing, the appearance.
Mahogany wood has a reddish-brown hue that deepens as the wood matures. The color isn’t consistent as you can notice some light and some dark areas.
It has a very smooth texture with hardly any voids. When it’s polished, it gives out an appealing reddish sheen.
Walnut wood has various grades of brown. It could be light brown or deep, dark brown that has a purplish hue or undertone.
Just like mahogany, it has a smooth texture when polished. It usually shows different shades of brown blending together as the sapwood tends to be lighter than the heartwood.
Mahogany Hardness & Density
With a 900 pounds/force and an average of 35 pounds per cubic foot, it’s safe to say that mahogany is one of the hardest and most dense woods out there.
Growing conditions and species play an important role in the final hardness of the wood. For example, African mahogany is slightly harder than South American mahogany.
Walnut Hardness & Density
Walnut wood is slightly harder and denser than mahogany wood. It has a hardness of 1,010 pounds/force and a density of 40 pounds/cubic foot.
This makes walnut sturdier than mahogany, but when it comes to furniture crafting, the difference in hardness and density is barely noticeable, especially after polishing.
The increased hardness won’t make much of a difference when it comes to constructing furniture, but it makes walnut wood much more reliable if you need wood carving, especially if you use black walnut.
Mahogany weighs around 32 pounds per cubic foot. It’s not the heaviest wood, but it’s heavy enough to construct reliable pieces of furniture.
Since it’s slightly less dense than walnut, it’s slightly lighter.
Walnut weighs an average of 37 pounds per cubic foot. It’s heavier than mahogany which makes sense because it’s denser.
Again, it’s not the heaviest but it’s more than enough for most projects. Compared to oak, for example, both mahogany and walnut are lighter.
There’s always a high demand for mahogany because of how reliable and sturdy it is.
In fact, in 2003, true mahogany (South American mahogany – Swietenia macrophylla) trade became illegal in the United States because of how rare it is.
Currently, 4 x 4 piece of African mahogany (Khaya spp.) will cost you anywhere between $4.30 to $8, sometimes even more.
Walnut wood is rarely grown in the United States, which makes it another rare find. However, unlike mahogany, it’s not illegal. It’s also more expensive than mahogany.
At the time of writing this article, a walnut 4 x 4 piece is priced between $4.7 to $11.
The difference in price between both types of woods isn’t that large, but it would scale up the more wood you use.
Best Uses for Mahogany
Mahogany’s good hardness, smooth texture, grained structure, and high polishability make it very versatile. Here’s what you can make out of mahogany wood:
Crafting furniture is probably the most popular use for mahogany. Its appealing classic-like appearance makes it a good choice for those who prefer wooden furniture.
Chairs, tables, couches, and even beds are good examples of how mahogany can be used. It’s reliable enough for any piece of furniture and will last a long time when cared for properly.
Whether you like to display your floor or cover some of it with carpet, mahogany is a great flooring choice.
Its high density and grain structure make it water resistant. As long as you’re not spraying it with water, it should stay lustrous and intact for as long as you need it to.
Its smooth texture makes it comfortable to walk on as well.
Remember that water resistance? It makes mahogany perfect for boat construction.
As long as it’s polished and sealed correctly, boats made from mahogany wood will never leak.
Guitars, violins, and even pianos can be constructed from mahogany wood to give them that premium appearance of a high-quality instrument.
However, care should be taken not to drop portable instruments like guitars. The weight of the wood may cause it to break from the first fall.
It’s not recommended to make food cutting boards from mahogany alone because it might show some knife marks with time. However, it’s still possible to do so.
Most mahogany-made cutting boards are covered with multiple layers of hardwood on top of mahogany to preserve it as long as possible.
Wood-crafted pens are not the most convenient to use, but they’re a fantastic showcase. Mahogany is great to manufacture showcasing pens.
Best Uses for Walnut
Since walnut is often compared to mahogany, it’s no surprise that most of the uses are similar.
Because of how denser it is, furniture and other small home projects made from walnut wood are extremely reliable and durable.
When it’s finished and polished, the color becomes much more lustrous, and it’s highly resistant to accidental scratches.
Any piece of furniture can be made from walnut, but it’s especially useful for furniture that sustains weight, like chairs and beds.
Be sure to check out these awesome walnut project ideas for all skill levels!
To be clear, any hardwood can be used as a flooring material, and walnut is no exception. It’s even a better choice than mahogany in this case.
The floor is more prone to sudden impacts from falling objects than other pieces of furniture, so a hardwood like walnut is a great choice.
Additionally, walnut’s color grading could be more appealing and modern for those who prefer a less classic approach.
Cabinets need to be made from a highly durable material because of how they withstand daily use and abuse.
If you decide to make your cabinets from black walnut, then you’d have both durability and the potential for carving.
The high density prevents wood from chipping anymore than needed while carving the wood.
Just like mahogany, musical instruments can be made from walnut. However, there are two things to keep in mind.
First, the instrument will be heavier and will need more meticulous handling. Second, the notes might sound slightly different because of how differently the sound waves are reflected.
The change in sound quality is very minor and won’t matter much to most people.
Do Mahogany and Walnut Go Together?
It depends. If you’re not worried about the overall appearance, such as with a covered table or a cutting board, then it’s okay to use mahogany and walnut together.
However, keep in mind that mahogany has a reddish sheen that doesn’t go very well with the purple undertone of walnut wood. This difference is even more noticeable after finishing and polishing.
Why Is Walnut Wood So Expensive?
Walnut is so rare that it’s considered a luxurious wood. A walnut tree takes up to seven years to become mature and a couple more years for it to produce enough wood material to harvest.
The demand for walnut wood consumption is currently much faster than its production. This is why it will only keep getting more and more expensive.
Mahogany has its uses and so does walnut. Is walnut sturdier? Yes. Does it feel more premium? Yes. Does that mean mahogany is inferior? No, it doesn’t.
It all comes down to what you want, how you want it, and how much you are willing to pay.
The difference in the final result isn’t that big quality-wise. If you prefer a more classic appearance of your furniture and carved wood isn’t a priority, go for mahogany.
If you like modern shaped furniture, then the slightly more expensive walnut should work well for you.
As for other things like musical instruments and boats, there’s virtually no difference.