Flat sawn Utile on the left, quarter sawn on the right
The names "Utile" and "Sipo" refer to the same species, but it seems as if the public has not yet decided on which name it prefers, as both names are used with equal frequency.
Utile is an African species that is used as a cheaper alternative to Genuine Mahogany, and it is a very popular species in our lumber yard. Utile is probably the Genuine Mahogany alternative that most closely resembles the wood which it is so often used to replace.
Utile still has an interlocking grain like other African species, giving it an alternating light and dark banded look. Although this is not as intense as African Mahogany's bands, Utile is much easier to work and produces less tearing, so it is often chosen over the other African species of Genuine Mahogany alternatives, especially in projects that require a clear coat or stain.
Utile's hardness is somewhere in between African Mahogany and Genuine Mahogany, which, again, makes it a good Genuine Mahogany alternative. For a while, Utile was hard to acquire and was listed as vulnerable, but responsible planting and foresting practices have dramatically increased the wood's availability.
However, at J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber Company we still take great care in our sourcing to acquire only the best specimens, as a wide variety of quality exists, depending on the import region.
We maintain a large volume of Utile in stock at all times, and we generally sell this lumber for exterior uses, cabinetry, and millwork, as well as other applications. The Mahogany-like color and texture make Utile a prized alternative that delivers many of Mahogany's benefits – without the Mahogany price tag.
Shannon Rogers started woodworking by trying to build a proton pack, and has been in love with the craft ever since. He runs The Renaissance Woodworker website which is dedicated to spreading the love about hand tool woodworking. He is also the head glue pot keeper at The Hand Tool School where teaches thousands of woodworkers on 6 continents (still trying to find somebody in Antarctica) how to cast off the power tool oppressors and build "the hard way".
By day Shannon is the Director of Marketing for J. Gibson McIlvain, a lumber company founded in 1798 that supplies high quality hardwoods from all over the world to everyone from Calvin Klein, the New York Yankees, and the US Government. He is a wood nerd through and through and often finds reasons to inject latin botanical names into everyday conversation.