Maple is very hard and is often used wherever a very durable surface is needed such as cutting boards, basketball courts and bowling alleys. Grain is fine and generally an even texture. Color is white to cream to yellow, sometimes with a red cast. Maple is the best choice for gray, red or blue stains as the light wood color highlights the stain.
Maple is a group of wood that is widespread throughout the USA and the world. When you think of Maple wood, you may think of anything from Maple syrup to Japanese Maple trees to the Canadian flag, but what are some Maple wood uses?
Maple wood is a great wood for hardwood flooring, sports equipment, musical instruments, woodworking projects, dance floors, and furniture! It is a very multi-purposed species of wood. This family of woods include Sugar Maple, Soft Maple, Silver Maple, Rock Maple, and Red Maple, to name just some of the species of Maple trees.
What is the use of a Maple tree? What are some properties of Maple trees? This wood’s color is a very nice complement for many interior design choices. Maple wood is known for its creamy white to reddish brown color, with even to unique grain patterns, as well as its exceptional smoothness when sanded.
Some hardwood species, such as Oak, tend to remain slightly rough even after sanding. However, Maple wood is known to be an especially dense wood with a tight grain, making it one of the smoothest hardwood species after sanding.
Because of this smoothness, Maple takes exceptionally well to staining. Furniture makers find that Maple stains really pop and stand out, and that Maple is an ideal choice looking for a specific stain color. This wood’s natural base creamy white color acts as a blank slate for many stains one may choose to apply, making it the ideal canvas for achieving specific looks and colors.
But is Maple a high quality wood, or does it just look good? Is Maple wood good for furniture? Maple is a high quality wood for furniture, depending on what types you look at. There are a variety, ranging from softer to harder, so it is important to get the right type. At Solid Custom Heirlooms, we use Hard Maple, Acer saccharum, which is hardwood Maple.
The genus Acer is a group of woods and shrubs commonly known as Maple. Most furniture grade Maple available in the United States is Acer saccharum, commonly called American Maple, Hard Maple, Hard Rock Maple or Sugar Maple. Less common are soft Maple trees, species such as Big Leaf Maple, Acer Macrophyllum, and Red Maple, Acer Rubrum, which are not as good for furniture.
Maple is ideal for any application that needs a smooth, highly durable surface including: hardwood floors, cabinets, baseball bats, kitchen accessories, musical instruments, and furniture. Maple is known for its tight grain and high density, making is great for uses where softer and more porous woods would not work.
Maple is an excellent choice for furniture because it is exceptionally smooth when sanded, making it great for those who want a smooth feel. Maple is great for those who are not too fond of rough surfaces.
Maple’s creamy white color also lends itself very well to staining, as Maple’s naturally neutral tones act as a blank slate for stains to be added too. If you have a specific stain look in mind, be sure to look into Maple furniture
There are two distinct groups of Maple trees: hard Maple and soft Maple. Hard Maple wood only includes one species: Acer saccharum, commonly called American Maple, Hard Rock Maple, Hard Maple, and Sugar Maple, among other things. This species is recognized as a genuine hardwood and grows in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada.
The soft Maple group includes every other type of Maple, such as Bigleaf Maple, Red Maple, Silver Maple and Striped Maple, and all other Maple species not named Acer saccharum.
Why are they called both hard Maple and soft Maple? Hard Maple is a denser and stronger wood than soft Maple woods, and is therefor valued higher by Maple wood furniture makers. While soft Maple wood can be and is used for furniture, it is not as durable or long-lasting as the hardwood species of Maple: Acer saccharum.
At Solid Custom Heirlooms we only use hard Maple for our Maple pieces. We do also use soft Maple for our Wormy Maple furniture, as high quality Wormy Maple is often found in softer Maple as well.
Which of these is better for furniture, hard Maple or soft Maple? Because hard Maple is, dare we say, harder, than soft Maple wood, Acer saccharum is the preferred species of Maple for many hardwood furniture makers.
Soft Maple can still make great furniture, and is excellent for hobby use, but it is no match for hard Maple when it comes to furniture built to last for generations. Hard Maple is better for furniture than soft Maple species.
How do you tell if your Maple wood is a hardwood or a softwood? Hard Maple, Acer saccharum, is a medium to larger tree that will be about 80ft to 115ft tall when full grown. Soft Maple, such as Red Maple Acer rubrum, will be a bit larger, about 90ft to 120ft tall.
The leaves really tell the difference though, with soft Red Maple having leaves between 3.5″ and 4.25″, but with hard Maple having leaves up to 7.9″ long.
But what is the difference between hard Maple and soft Maple bark? There is not any perceivable difference, at least to the common eye. They are both gray to brown in color and have vertical bark patterns.
There are many types of Maple wood, but not all of them are equal to one another when it comes to furniture making. Their different qualities make them desirable for different reasons.
One such variety is Sugar Maple. What is Sugar Maple? Sugar Maple is another name for Acer saccharum, or hard Maple. Sugar Maple trees are so called because they are one of the types of Maple that supply Maple syrup.
Did you know that the same trees that produce Maple sryup are used to build furniture? If you had waffles this morning, you probably also had the product of a Sugar Maple tree! Solid Rock Maple is also yet another name for Acer saccharum, Hard Maple, as is American Maple.
In order for a Maple tree’s syrup to be commercially sold as Maple syrup, it has to be made up of a certain percent of sugar, depending upon the region it was grown in. The Sugar Maple tree is known for its high sugar content, making it ideal for Maple syrup production.
What is Wormy Maple? Wormy Maple is not a particular species of Maple wood, but rather it is any Maple wood that has been inhabited by the Ambrosia Beetle. This beetle bores tiny tunnels throughout Maple wood, bringing with it ambrosia fungi which discolors the area around the tunnels.
The beetle and its larvae then feed off of this fungi as it grows in the wood, using it as a food source. It turns out that the term “Wormy” in Wormy Maple is a misnomer, as it is actually beetles and their fungi that give the unique look to this wood.
However much the thought of bug infested trees may give you the hibbie-jibbies, this wood is actually quite desirable and good looking after it has been rid of the beetles. The beetle removal process is completed by the process of dry kiln curing, where the Maple wood is brought to a specific temperature and humidity inside a kiln, which not only kills any remaining beetles but brings the wood to the correct state to be turned into furniture.
The tunnels created by the beetles do not effect the structural integrity of the wood, as the beetle’s themselves are only about 1/5th of an inch long. If you are looking for a truly unique piece of furniture, Wormy Maple may be for you!
You may be wondering about Maple vs. hardwoods of other types. Is Maple wood a good option as compared to other hardwoods species? Yes, because Maple is an exceptionally durable and long-lasting wood species.
What is better, Maple or Oak? The two hardwood varieties of Oak, Red Oak and White Oak, are known to be excellent hardwoods, as they are both strong and good-looking. So how does Maple compare to Oak hardwoods?
It turns out that Maple and Oak are two very different types of hardwoods, so it is almost not fair to compare them. While they are both durable and strong, both their colors and finished texture greatly differ from one another.
Maple wood is known to sand exceptionally smoothly, as it has a tight grain pattern and a dense composition. Once sanded, Maple is among the smoothest of hardwoods, but Oak is almost the exact opposite of Maple: it has a less dense, smooth grain pattern and a more porous composition.
Oak’s more porous composition means that even after it has been sanded as much as possible, both White Oak, and especially Red Oak, will still have a discernible texture and will never be perfectly smooth because of their porous grain patterns.
Because Oak will never be perfectly smooth, it will also never stain as well as Maple. Maple is known to take stain very well, meaning that the original color of a stain will likely show through after being applied to Maple hardwood. This is not so with Oak.
So how does Maple compare to other hardwoods? Maple holds its own, proving that it is a true hardwood species worthy of a place in high quality furniture. If you are searching for a hardwood that is strong, smooth, and stains well, Maple may be your answer.
You may ask: “why is Maple wood so expensive?” Why does a Maple hardwood bed cost more than an Ikea bed? Maple costs more because Maple gives you more: higher quality, more durability, customization, authenticity, and a piece of furniture that will last for generations.
In fact, these are all things hardwoods give you that the plywoods and particle boards of big-box stores do not. While a cheaper bed may cost less, you end up getting what you pay for, which is not a lot.
But the real question is “is Maple expensive compared to other hardwoods?” No, Maple is not. Maple actually tends to be right in the middle of the pack when it comes to price, with Walnut being the most expensive hardwood most of the time. As far as high quality American grown hardwoods go, Maple is reasonably priced and gives you all the things you would expect from premium hardwood.
Is Maple wood really all butterflies and roses? Is there a dark side to this fairy tale? Maple wood is a great hardwood, but here are some things that you may not prefer about Maple wood, and that some may see as disadvantages of Maple wood:
Maple wood is durable: this wood’s tight grain and dense composition mean that furniture made with it will last for generations.
Hardwood Maple is smooth: once sanded and finished, this wood provides a nice smooth surface thanks to its tight grain patterns.
It stains exceptionally well: because of Maple’s neutral tones and smooth surface, a stain’s color will stand out and really pop on this wood’s surface.
It is heavy: because of Maple’s tight grain pattern and dense composition, it is heavy. This wood may leave you asking your delivery man: “do you even lift, bro?” It is called solid hardwood for a reason.
This wood’s color is not for everyone: if you are looking for a hardwood species whose natural color stands out on its own without stain, you may want to consider a different hardwood than Maple. Maple naturally has a more neutral and subdued color palette than other hardwoods, which makes it great for stains, but it may not be as great a la carte.
Is Maple the right wood for you? Here at Solid Custom Heirlooms we think that hardwood makes the best furniture and that Maple is no exception! We offer a wide variety of furniture options hand made from high quality American Hardwood, including Maple.
If you want to talk more about achieving a specific look for one of our furniture pieces, or want some more guidance on wood choices, please contact us and we would be glad to help you make the bed you’ve been dreaming of out of whatever wood works best for you!