Know your maples

      A primer on different types of maple lumber. August 23, 2000

Q.
Where do the different types of maple come from? Is big leaf maple just maple? How about rock and hard maple? Is there an easy way to distinguish between the different types?



I dry a good bit of soft maple, both red and silver leaf. It comes
mostly from the upper Midwest and up into Canada.

The red leaf is a bit more expensive and has little worm track in it. The silver has the worm track, and is therefore cheaper and less desirable.



Having lived on the West Coast and the East, I know big leaf maple is a soft maple. Rock or hard maple is the maple that they make maple syrup from. Break a small branch off a sugar (hard) maple in spring, and it will leak gallons of sap.

All other maples are soft maples (almost). Vine maple is at least as hard if not harder than rock maple, but too small for anything but tool handles, where hickory and ash are not available.



If you want to sort hard and soft maple, you can look at the end grain under 15X magnification. Hard maple has two distinctly different width rays; soft maple, just one size.

In the East, there are three species in the Acer genus -- soft maple (red and silver), hard maple (sugar and black), and boxelder. Out West, Acer macrophyllum is big leaf maple. It generally falls between red and silver maple in properties, but it is probably incorrect to sell it as soft maple.
Gene Wengert, forum moderator



Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?


Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Lumber & Plywood: Wood Identification

  • KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering: Wood Properties

  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base


    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.



    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2018 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB











  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers


      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article