Meranti wood is also commonly referred to as Philippine mahogany, although the trees are not from the same family or species as Mahogany wood. This wood comes from the plant family called Dipterocarpaceae, from the Shorea genus, which are native to southeast Asia. Meranti wood may be one of several species of trees in the Shorea genus, but can be separated into four main types.
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Dark Red Meranti
From the family Shorea, dark red Meranti wood comes from the species Shorea negrosensis, and is found primarily in Southeast Asia. This tree grows from between 65 to 130 feet tall with a trunk that spans 3 to 6 feet in diameter. Typically dark red Meranti wood is a deep reddish or purplish brown with white streaks caused by resin. The grain may be interlocked and is coarse with small pores. It is moderately-durable, having some decay resistance, but is vulnerable to pests. Dark red Meranti wood is said to react poorly to steam-bending but is otherwise easy to work with, although it may cause tools to become blunt.
Light Red Meranti
Light red Meranti is found primarily in Southeast Asia. This species of trees from the Shorea family includes Shorea contorta, leprosula, leptoclados, and smithiana. Trees grow to between 65 and 130 feet tall with a 3- to 6-foot diameter trunk. The colour of light red Meranti wood varies depending on species, but typically ranges from a pale straw colour to a reddish brown. The grain is coarse with small pores and may sometimes be interlocked. Light red meranti wood is vulnerable to insect attack and decay, making it a non-durable wood. Because of its low density, light red Meranti wood is easy to work with, but the surface may remain rough after sanding.
White Meranti wood is derived from the Shorea species assamica, cochinchinensis, and hypochra. It is also found primarily in Southeast Asia. Trees of these species grow to heights of 130 to 200 feet and the trunks range from 3 to 5 feet in diameter. Also called heartwood, white Meranti has a pale yellowish orange colour when first cut that ages to a yellowish-brown. The wood has a coarse texture with small pores and it may be interlocked. It contains a high level of silica. The durability of white Meranti varies, but overall it is considered as non-durable due to its vulnerability to pests and disease. Because of its high silica content, white Meranti is dulling to tools and carbide tipped cutting tools are recommended. The interlocked grain can be an issue during planning and the surface of the wood may remain rough. White Meranti species are endangered, so availability will depend on the region.
Yellow Meranti wood is derived from the Shorea species acuminatissima, faguetiana, and kalunti found most often in Southeast Asia. The trees that provide yellow Meranti grow to between 130 and 200 feet tall with a trunk diameter of about 5 to 6 feet. This wood is typically yellow to yellowish brown and tends to darken as it ages. The grain is coarse, with small pores and may be interlocked. It is also vulnerable to decay and pests but easy to work with.
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