Maple is a well-known tree for many in the world. From Maple syrup to smoking whiskey this is one diverse wood, and one we love to work with.
There are approximately 128 species of Maple, most of which are native to Asia, with a number also appearing in Europe, North America and North Africa. Besides the various species of Maple it also comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes from 150 ft trees to shrubs less than 10 ft tall making this a unique type of wood.
So what do we use Maple for? The most well known uses are for syrup and wood. The larger species of Maple have valuable timber and have a long history of being used for furniture production in the USA. Dried maple wood is often used for smoking food, the charcoal from maple is an integral part of the process to make certain Tennessee whiskies, and hard maple is the choice of wood for bowling pins, alley lanes, pool cue shafts, butcher blocks, and is the standard wood for bats in pro baseball.
Maple is also considered a ‘tonewood’ (a wood that carries sound waves well) and is used in numerous musical instruments. Maple is harder and has a brighter sound than mahogany, which is another popular tonewood used in instruments.
This type of maple is best for – Floors, cabinetry, furniture, custom woodwork, moulding/trim, butcher blocks, baseball bats, bowling lanes, vise jaws, clamp locks. It is also known as Rock Maple or Sugar Maple and is most common in the Eastern United States.
Pros and Cons: Hard maple is known to be both durable and strong. It can be used for a variety of projects since it boasts the trifecta of strength, beauty, and cost-effectiveness. Although hard maple is very stable compared to other species, some consumers believe that it is more likely to twist and warp. Its longevity also depends on the condition of the wood and the way it is installed. Maple is less porous than other woods, which makes it slightly more susceptible to dents and scratches.
Physical Characteristics: The light, natural finish makes hard maple a leading choice for contemporary spaces when it comes to furniture and hardwood flooring. Its subtle grain pattern works well in large or small spaces and complements modern decor well.
Soft maple is best used in – Millwork, kitchen cabinets, furniture, pallets, crates, and basket veneer. Unlike hard maple, which refers to one particular species (Acer saccharum), soft maple refers to several different species of maple.
Pros and Cons: White maple is a species of maple native to Eastern North America and is one of the most common trees in the United States. Its main advantage is that it can be stained to look much like cherry wood. White maple is best for indoor projects, since it has no resistance to decay and since it is not considered to be as durable as other types of wood. It is rated medium to below average in terms of workability, so it is not the best choice for steam bending, or projects that involve a lot of shaping and boring.
Physical Characteristics: Soft maple is more likely than hard maple to be peppered with “pith flecks,” which are dark, irregular streaks or spots that usually result from insect attack on the growing tree. Its growth rings are barely visible, but light brown streaks are common along the grain. Like hard maple, it can develop an aesthetically pleasing curl. Soft maple is known as an odorless, fine textured wood.
Overall Maple is a diverse and unique wood that can be used in many projects. With so many uses and aesthetics it is a great wood to have on hand for any project. Consider Maple for your next piece.