Types of Maple Wood

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Maple wood is a popular choice for furniture makers because it is strong, durable, and beautiful. However, not all maple trees are the same. There are many types of maple tree species that yield different types of lumber with varying characteristics. This article will explore the differences between several popular species to help you decide which one would be best for your project or interest. 

What is Maple Wood? 

Maple Lumber Square Turning Blanks (4pc) (2" x 2" x 12")

Maple trees are loved by many people for their sentimental value. These gorgeous giants of the forest remind us of cozy springtime and brilliant autumn days when leaves change colors on their branches like some kind of amazing artwork in motion! Maple wood is also a favorite of furniture makers for its ability to make fine furniture. The majority of maple trees come from Europe and Asia. There are about 125 types of maple trees.  However, only certain types of maple trees are commonly used in making furniture. There are many things that can be made of maple, including furniture. In general, the grain of the wood is smooth and straight, giving the finished product a clean appearance.

What Color is Maple Wood?

Maple wood types tend to be a pale white that darkens with age.  In fact, the maple wood types can appear nearly black after 60 years of aging. The heartwood of the tree is a brownish-red wood that can sometimes be quite dark. As it ages, this color will naturally mellow to an earthier tone!

What Does the Grain Pattern of Maple Wood Look Like?

Maple types of wood have a fine, uniform texture with straight grain that is often highly figured.  Birdseye maple types, for example, is a highly sought-after pattern due to its’ beauty and rarity. Maple types of wood are prized by craftsmen who work in small series or one-of-a-kind pieces.

Types of Maple Wood

Sugar maple

Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sugar maple is a species of maple wood native to most of Canada, throughout New England, the Great Lakes region, and upstate New York. Sugar maples are one of the more popular types of maple trees used for making furniture. Sugar maple wood is prized by furniture makers for its hardness, toughness, and color. It is also known to be easy to work with hand or machine tools.

Characteristics

Sugar maple wood has white sapwood and light-red heartwood. Sugar maple often has an attractive flamed figure similar to curly maple types of wood; however, unlike the curly type, its grain pattern is straighter.

Uses

Sugar maple wood is usually used in furniture, floors, and veneer for plywood, and hardwood paneling. They are also used in the creation of musical instruments such as guitars and basses. It is also used to make hockey sticks, baseball bats, bowling pins, piano parts, bakery paddles, and other woodenware.

Black maple

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Black maple wood is another species native to eastern Canada, New England, the Great Lakes Region, and upstate New York. This type of maple is very similar to sugar maple but has more pronounced grain patterns than its cousin wood, such as quilting patterns that resemble birds`eyes`. This type of maple wood can be easily separated from other types by its dark grayish-brown color. Overall its grain is finer than other types of maple wood with the same common names.

Characteristic

Black maple is dense, and rounded, the bark is dark and the fall color is brilliant. Black maple wood also has a fine, uniform texture with straight grain that is often highly figured.

Uses

Black maple wood is often used in cabinetry and flooring due to its smooth surface and striking grain patterns. This type of maple wood can also be used in furniture making, though it is not as popular for that purpose.

Also Read: Types of Blackwood

Bigleaf Maple

Peter Stevens from Seattle, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bigleaf maple wood is native to the west coast of North America, especially British Columbia. Normally, it can be found in this region, but curly, burly, and quilted mutations are unusual. There will be only one figured tree out of hundreds, but it will be an exceptional tree. Bigleaf maple is known for its large leaves and thus its common name. Big-leaf maple wood ranks highly on the Janka scale.

Characteristics

The sapwood is creamy white while the heartwood can vary from light pinkish-brown to deep reddish-brown or chocolate brown. The sapwood tends to be more diffuse than other types. It also has a smaller proportion of latewood.

Uses

Today bigleaf maple wood is used for veneers, cabinetry, fine furniture, musical instruments (especially guitars), and gunstocks.

Red Maple

Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Red maple wood is common species found throughout eastern North America from southern Canada to the Gulf Coast. Red maple falls in the category of soft maples along with maple woods named after colors. Because it grows quickly and is easy to split, red maple has been used for railroad ties and fuel.

Characteristics

Red maple wood has a straight, fine grain with narrow earlywood sections and wide latewood sections. Red maple woods often display subtle curly grain patterns, which add to their beauty and appeal. Red maples absorb stain well and can be used in all parts of furniture-making since they change color depending on the lighting or angle that one looks at it from. It also works well in millwork.

Uses

Red maple wood is also used in the production of musical instruments, sports goods, veneers, and plywood.

Also Read: Types of Red Wood

Silver maple

An eastern North American native tree, this maple is often found near streams and rivers. The heights can reach up to 50 feet with the usual soil conditions being in a sunny location close by. Silver maples belong to what’s called a “soft” group of soft Maple trees because their wood seems softer than that of other species or varieties within it – but not too much so as you would think! In general terms, these kinds are weaker when compared to stronger hardwoods like oak for instance.

Characteristics

The silver maple trees have leaves that are green on top and silvery-white on their undersides. The silver maple types wooden timber is fairly hard, even texture, rather brittle, and easily worked.

Uses

Silver maple is often used in cabinetry and flooring due to its smooth surface and striking grain patterns. This type types of wood can also be used in furniture making, though its types of wood are not as popular for that purpose.

Box elder 

CK Kelly, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Box elder maple grows widely throughout North America.  It has a diameter of 12 – 20 inches, it typically grows to 40 – 50 feet tall. In comparison to other maples, this wood is softer and the color is a rather uniform pale white. Overall the wood has a straight grain with an even texture, and the sapwood is of a similar color. It is also known for its vigorous growth, disease resistance, and drought tolerance.

Characteristics

Boxelder has a fine texture with straight grain patterns that are often highly figured. The light color makes it ideal for staining. On the other hand, this type of wooden fruit is also known to have very little distinction between earlywood and latewood, which can lead to fast drying times when working in large areas together.

Uses

Boxelder trees or Acer negundo are not valued for their hardwood, but they are often cut down to make boxes. Boxelder maple usually has a dense fiber saturation point which provides stability even with changing temperatures and humidity levels. This makes box elder ideal wood for furniture. They are also commonly used for making plywood.

Conclusion

Maple wood types are an important factor to consider when looking for the right type of furniture or another wooden item. The characteristics and uses help make it easier to decide which maple you should choose for your project. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, we hope this article has given you a little more information about different types of maple so that you can find what works best for your needs!

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