We’re so lucky to have so many different kinds of woods available to us to work within our shop. Supply chains have recovered somewhat from the disarray caused by the COVID pandemic, and lumber yards and specialty wood shops both on the ground and online have had their inventory replenished.
Sometimes, too, we can get lucky at yard and estate sales picking up old furniture made from exotic woods like mango from all over the world.
This morning I drank a glass of orange mango juice, one of my favorites, and I thought about mangos. When I lived in East Asia, mangos were always plentiful, and I acquired a taste for them. It came to me that I should write about mango wood. I’ve never worked with it, so it took a little research, as well as a chat with my brother, the turnery artist who works with a lot of exotic woods.
Where Do Mango Trees Grow?
Mango trees (Mangifera Indica) are native to tropical regions of Asia, but they are now grown in many tropical and subtropical regions around the world. They are particularly common in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil, and the Caribbean.
The trees grow best in warm, sunny climates with plenty of rainfall. They can tolerate some drought, but they do not do well in cold weather. They can grow to be quite large, reaching heights of up to 100 feet. They have a long, slender trunk and a dense, spreading canopy of leaves. The leaves are dark green and glossy, and they have a pleasant, citrusy scent.
They produce large, fleshy fruits that are typically oval or round in shape. The fruits are yellow, orange, or red when ripe, and they have sweet, juicy flesh. Mangoes are a popular fruit that is eaten fresh, canned, or juiced. They are also used in a variety of desserts and other dishes.
Here are some of the factors that affect the growth of mango trees:
- Climate: They need warm, sunny weather to grow. They can tolerate some drought, but they do not do well in cold weather.
- Soil: They grow best in well-drained, fertile soil. They do not do well in heavy, clay soils.
- Water: They need regular watering, especially during the fruiting season.
- Fertilizer: They need to be fertilized regularly, especially during the growing season.
- Pests and diseases: Mango trees are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. It is important to monitor the trees for signs of pests and diseases and to take steps to control them.
With proper care, mango trees can produce a bountiful harvest of delicious fruit. I can attest to that, having eaten so many of them in Southeast Asia.
Mango trees grow tall, upwards of 100 feet, and with a trunk that can reach 3-4 feet in width. Fruit can be produced in as little as 7 – 15 years, depending on where and how grown (in the wild or on tree farms), but the fruit from the tree runs out of its sweetness and eating interest in about 30 years, meaning the tree is then harvested for its wood and not its fruit.
However, the seeds are then used to plant new trees, making mango a renewable resource and good for the environment.
Mango wood is beautiful, durable, and strong. It is often used for furniture, flooring, and other woodworking projects.
Here are some of the characteristics of mango wood:
- Color: Mango wood can vary in color from light brown to dark brown, with some pieces having a pinkish or reddish hue. The nuanced light brown can evolve into a golden brown as the color makes its way down a plank, but the range of colors is truly impressive. When it comes to finishing mango wood, great care should be given to the choice of whether to stain it or give it a clear finish to let its beauty and those colors shine. We’ll talk more about that in a moment. This is not to suggest mango wood cannot be stained, though.
- Grain: Mango wood grain is straight and even, and the grain is often interlocked.
- Texture: Mango wood has a medium to coarse texture.
- Density: Mango wood is a dense wood with a Janka hardness of 1,120 pounds-force. This means that it is harder than some other common hardwoods, such as maple and oak.
- Durability: Mango wood is a durable wood that is resistant to rot and decay. This makes it a good choice for outdoor furniture and other applications where durability is important.
- Strength: Mango wood is a strong wood that can support a lot of weight. This makes it a good choice for furniture and other heavy objects.
- Workability: Mango wood is easy to work with and takes a variety of finishes, including stains.
- Affordability: Mango wood is a relatively affordable hardwood, making it a good value for the price.
Overall, mango wood is a beautiful, durable, and affordable hardwood that is perfect for a variety of woodworking projects.
Is Mango Wood A Hardwood or A Softwood?
Mango wood is a hardwood. Hardwoods come from broadleaf trees, while softwoods come from coniferous trees. Mango trees are broadleaf trees, so their wood is classified as hardwood. Hardwoods are typically denser and stronger than softwoods, and they are often used for furniture, flooring, and other woodworking projects.
The Janka hardness of mango wood is 1,120 pounds-force. This means that it is harder than some other common hardwoods, such as maple and oak. Mango wood is also very durable and resistant to rot and decay. This makes it a good choice for outdoor furniture and other applications where durability is important.
What Are Common Uses for Mango Wood?
Mango wood is a beautiful and versatile hardwood that is perfect for a variety of woodworking projects. It is strong, durable, and resistant to rot and decay, making it a good choice for outdoor furniture and other applications where durability is important. Mango wood is also very affordable, making it a great value for the price.
Here are some good uses for mango wood in woodworking:
- Furniture: The wood is a popular choice for furniture because of its strength, durability, and beauty. It is often used for tables, chairs, desks, and other pieces of furniture. Mango wood furniture is common in Southeast Asia, and occasionally you will be able to find a piece of mango wood furniture at an estate sale or yard sale. It may be old and in need of care, but restoring it will provide you with a great reward.
- Flooring: It’s a durable and long-lasting flooring option. It is available in a variety of finishes, so you can find the perfect look for your home.
- Wall paneling: Mango wall paneling is a beautiful and unique way to add a touch of warmth and style to your home. It is available in a variety of finishes, so you can find the perfect look for your space.
- Cabinetry: Mango cabinetry is a stylish and durable option for your kitchen or bathroom. It is available in a variety of finishes, so you can find the perfect look for your space.
- Turned objects: Mango wood is a popular choice for turned objects, such as bowls, vases, and sculptures. It is easy to work with and takes a variety of finishes, so you can create beautiful and unique objects. My brother, the turnery artist, speaks highly of the wood for his turning projects.
- Musical instruments: It’s a popular choice for musical instruments, such as guitars, ukuleles, and drums. It is known for its rich sound and beautiful appearance.
- Other projects: The wood can be used for a variety of other woodworking projects, such as picture frames, jewelry boxes, and home decor. It is a versatile wood that can be used to create a variety of beautiful and functional objects.
Is Mango an Expensive Wood?
Mango wood is a relatively affordable hardwood. The price of mango wood varies depending on the quality of the wood, the size of the piece, and the finish. However, you can typically find mango wood furniture for around $100-$200 per piece.
Mango wood is a good value for the price because it is a durable and beautiful hardwood. It is also a sustainable wood, as mango trees are harvested after they have fruited for about 15 years. This means that new trees are planted to replace the ones that are harvested, so the mango wood industry is not harming the environment.
What Are Good Finishes For Mango Wood?
There are many different finishes that can be used on mango wood, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most popular finishes include:
- Oil: Oil finishes are a good choice for mango wood because they allow the natural beauty of the wood to show through. They also provide a good level of protection from moisture and scratches.
- Varnish: Varnish finishes are a good choice for mango wood if you want a high-gloss finish. They provide excellent protection from moisture and scratches, but they can yellow the wood over time.
- Polyurethane: Polyurethane finishes are a good choice for mango wood if you want a durable finish that is resistant to water and scratches. They can be applied in either a satin or gloss finish.
- Shellac: Shellac finishes are a good choice for mango wood if you want a fast-drying finish that is easy to apply. They provide good protection from moisture and scratches, but they can be damaged by alcohol.
- Wax: Wax finishes are a good choice for mango wood if you want a natural finish that is easy to maintain. They provide some protection from moisture and scratches, but they need to be reapplied regularly.
The best finish for mango wood will depend on your personal preferences and the intended use of the wood. If, for instance, you’ve picked up an old mango chair from a sale (yard, estate, or even on Craig’s List), you’ll choose a finish that will fit within the design and style of your home.
But, from the list above, you have many options to choose from.
Can You Use Stain on Mango Wood?
Sure you can! While you may be tempted to let its natural colors be the star, it can be stained. Perhaps your plank has a color flow from one end to the other that begins with a lighter brown or golden brown color that evolves into a darker brown end; in such an instance, a well-chosen stain color can bring the palette of colors together in a pleasing way.
Staining mango wood in the process is no different than applying stain to any other hardwood:
- The longer you leave it on before wiping off the excess stain with a dry cloth, the darker the color will be. Be sure to apply the stain with the wood grain, too.
- A second coat of stain will also tend to darken the final color.
- Remember, too, that a water-based stain will raise the grain of the wood more than an oil-based stain. This is not a bad thing – it simply means a little sanding will be necessary to smooth the surface of the wood before a finish is applied.
- With such a variety of colors in the wood, the choice of stain becomes important so as not to diminish the wood’s natural color(s).
Mango Wood Furniture Video
We found a video of a woodworker who was lucky enough to find an old piece of mango furniture that he restored. It’s a bit long, but if you stay with it, you will learn a lot about restoring old furniture, as well as the beauty of mango wood. It’s worth a long watch.
Yes, mango wood can be stained, and either an oil-based stain or a water-based stain will work just fine. You might want to consider using a pre-stain conditioner on mango wood first, and in fact, a pre-stain conditioner is not a bad idea on any wood.
Just make sure you first are convinced it will improve the appearance of the wood because the wood is lovely in its natural state.