My understanding of why mahogany was chosen for coin cabinets was not it's availability but its stability and lack of volatile resins. Personally, I'd avoid any wood
with a strong scent.
Actually, it's not the resins that are volatile, but aromatic oils within them. And if it has a strong scent, it has aromatic oils. Some of these oils, such as those in cedar, are known to have toxic effects on some animals
. For example - cedar is used in clothes closets because it kills moths. People who keep reptiles have discovered that the oils are toxic enough that mice raised with cedar shavings in their cage are toxic to snakes.
have other potentially damaging chemicals in them. Oak, for instance, has tannin. While tannin is not, as far as I know, volatile, direct contact with tannin and atmospheric moisture could produce corrosion (tannic acid).
Whether toxicity translates to corrosive when used with coins is anyone's guess, at least until some testing is done. In fact, if any of you out there got inspired, some experiments with different types
and shiny modern coins might provide some useful information.
One of the posters above mentioned using chamois in his
cabinets. Since that's a tanned leather, I'd be concerned that the chemicals used to tan it might be harmful. Again. some simple experimentation could be helpful.