If you are planning to build some furniture, doors and windows, walls, cabinets, or anything in between, then there is really no better choice than solid lumber. That said, there are of course many different types of wood that you can use for your construction project. Two very popular types of wood include mahogany and hickory.
Now, both are popular and useful, although quite different. Let’s figure out which of these types of wood you need for your next project.
What Is Mahogany?
First off, we have mahogany, which is a deciduous tree, which means that its leaves generally fall off during the colder seasons of the year. Mahogany is a tropical hardwood tree that is native to the warmer parts of the Americas, although it can also be found in various parts of Oceania and Asia, due to exportation.
The grain of mahogany tends to be extremely straight and tight, along with a fairly smooth texture, as well as very little or no voids, gaps, or knots. Mahogany wood usually has a very deep reddish-brown color that will darken over time.
Mahogany is a fairly dense and hard type of wood, and it has a little bit of resin and sap. What this means is that mahogany tends to be extremely durable and resistant to a variety of forms of damage, and is also very resistant to moisture and rot, as well as pests and fungus. For this reason, it is suitable for both outdoor and indoor use.
Mahogany wood is fairly expensive, and it makes for a great choice for high-end applications. It is often used for making very high-end furniture, high-quality windows and doors, decorative pieces, and any other application where both aesthetics and durability are called for.
What Is Hickory?
We then have the hickory tree, which is another deciduous type of hardwood tree. There are many different species of hickory, with many being found in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as China and India. That said, the type of hickory tree that is usually associated with construction are those that come from North America.
Hickory wood features a very tight and close grain, which is usually straight, although the grain of this wood may sometimes be a little wavy. In terms of texture, hickory wood has a medium texture. Hickory wood can also range in color quite greatly, anywhere from white to light brown.
This is also an extremely hard and dense type of wood, which makes it ideal because it is very resistant to scratching, denting, and physical impact.
Although hickory doesn’t contain a huge amount of natural oils or sap, due to its density and hardness, it is somewhat moisture resistant. That said, most people would generally not consider untreated hickory wood to be pest or moisture-resistant enough to be used for outdoor purposes with lots of exposure to moisture. In terms of cost, hickory isn’t too expensive.
Mahogany vs. Hickory: What Are the Differences?
Now that we know what both mahogany and hickory are, let’s figure out what makes them different from each other.
In terms of its hardness, mahogany comes in at roughly 900 lbf on the Janka hardness scale, therefore making it quite hard. However, hickory can come in at up to 1,900 lbf, therefore making it about twice as hard as mahogany. Hickory is far more scratch, dent, and impact resistant than mahogany wood.
Weight and Density
In terms of its density and weight, mahogany wood comes in at roughly 800 kilograms per cubic meter. On the other hand, hickory wood comes in at roughly 930 kilograms per cubic meter, making it heavier and denser than mahogany. For this reason, it is also a little bit more durable, although also heavier and a bit more difficult to work with.
Strength and Durability
When it comes to the overall strength and durability of these two types of wood, although both are extremely dense and hard, hickory tends to be the slightly harder and more durable of the two. If you need wood that is impact, dent, and scratch-resistant, then hickory is the way to go.
Moisture and Pest Resistance
One thing that really stands out about mahogany is that it has a great deal of moisture and rot resistance, which does make it ideal for outdoor use. At the same time, mahogany is also extremely resistant to pests and fungi. On the other hand, although hickory wood is extremely strong and durable, it has relatively low moisture and pest resistance.
For this reason, unless it has been treated, it is not suitable for outdoor use.
Appearance – Grain and Color
Mahogany wood tends to have an extremely straight, tight, and interlocked grain, along with a relatively smooth texture, very few knots, gaps, and voids, and features a dark reddish-brown color. On the other hand, hickory wood also tends to have a straight texture, although it may sometimes be a bit wavy. It does have an extremely tight grain, although it may have quite a few knots and gaps, and its color may range anywhere from white to brown to red.
Most people would say that mahogany is the better-looking of the two.
Because hickory wood is harder, denser, heavier, and has more knots, it does tend to be a bit harder to work with than mahogany.
Genuine mahogany may cost you up to 15 dollars per board foot, whereas hickory will cost you between 5 and 7.50 dollars per board food.
When to Use Mahogany Wood?
Due to its greater moisture and pest resistance, mahogany does make a good choice for outdoor furniture, particularly for high-end outdoor furniture and other such applications, although it is also suitable for indoor use, as long as you are willing to pay the high price for it.
When to Use Hickory Wood?
Because it is so dense and hard, Hickory wood tends to be a great option for things like hardwood flooring, as it is extremely dent and impact resistant. That said, due to low moisture resistance, it’s not ideal for any area that will experience lots of moisture, which includes the exterior applications.
Alternatives to Mahogany and Hickory Wood
If you happen to need wood that is extremely resistant to moisture, options such as teak, cedar, California redwood, cypress, and Ipe all make for good options.
For more details, read our article about mahogany alternatives.
Now that you know what the main differences between mahogany and Hickory wood are, you can make an informed decision between the two.