37. A great variety of fine woods are brought into this country each year for interior finishing and furniture work. Of these, mahogany, French burl, rosewood, Circassian walnut and satin wood are the most common, although all are very costly and hence used only for the best grades of work.
Mahogany is the only imported wood much used for the finish of buildings. The heartwood is of a light red color with a handsome grain, and at the present time is the most popular wood for fine interiors, both public and private. The wood is peculiarly marked with short, straight lines or dashes, by which it can be distinguished from other woods stained to imitate it.
The mahogany now used in this country comes principally from Mexico and Cuba. Formerly large quantities were shipped from St. Domingo and Honduras, but wood from these localities is now seldom seen. The Honduras variety was designated by the term baywood to distinguish it from the St. Domingo or Spanish mahogany, and the same term is now used to designate the soft and inferior grades that come from Mexico. There is a great difference in the color of the Mexican mahogany, some pieces being almost white in places, while other pieces are of a deep red color. All of it turns darker in color when finished, and also with age. The wood is shipped to this country in logs and is then sawn into boards or veneers by the importers. The finest Mexican mahogany is called "Fron-tera," from the name of the shipping place. Mahogany is too expensive to use in large pieces and is principally used in the shape of veneers. When a superior piece of work is required, figured or selected mahogany of a uniform dark color should be specified. Mahogany is easily worked and takes a high polish. There is no wood that stays in place better when thoroughly dried and glued.
White Mahogany (Prima vera) has about the same grain as the real mahogany, but is of a creamy white color. It is obtained from the west coast of Mexico, and ranks among the more expensive woods.
Satin wood and French burl are among the most expensive woods and are used for finishing only in the finest buildings. Satin wood comes from the West India islands and French burl from Persia. The latter is really a walnut, the burl being a wart or knot that forms on the side of the tree while it is young. Circassian walnut comes from the Black Sea.