Sawing Curly Maple for Figure

      What's the best way to get value from curly maple logs? Sawmillers debate the topic. June 28, 2005

I was recently asked by my neighbor to mill some silver maple, and when I went to look at it I noticed that it was curley and that the entire bole even had ripples. I have paid extensive attention to quarter sawing and vertical grain, but Im not sure how to highlight the curly grain. Does anyone have any suggestions for cutting patterns? Should I use plain-sawn or quarter sawn? There are a couple of crotches, and I will cut them to pursue the crotchwood pattern. What about the clean straight logs? What cutting pattern should I use? Any help would be great.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor B:
You will get the best results by quarter sawing however the log needs to be at least 16" small end to get 6" boards out of it.

From contributor J:
Im not sure that quarter sawing will gain any figure on maples. It will make the lumber more dimensionally stable of course, but it will not add to the amount of figure. Most curly maple that is commercially cut is flat-sawn to get the most yield from the log, as quarter-sawing does waste some.

From contributor L:
I agree that flat sawn is the most common way of processing curly maple. That is the way I saw it, and it is the way I have always seen it sold. I have found that the curl tends to dissipate as you go toward the heart.

From contributor K:
The primary logs are 27 inch in diameter and six feet in length (cut down by the highway workers). The tree was standing dead in a dry climate. There is some spalting and limited checking. The bark has slipped and the wood surface on the exterior of the log undulates like tiny ripples in a puddle. I'll take a sharp hand plane, and after a couple of cuts I'll plane a quarter-sawn and a through-sawn board section, and see where the pattern wants to be.

From contributor B:
You will find butt curl on as many as one out of five maples in my area. This figure is found in the first 1 to 4 feet of the butt log and will run out - this adds no commercial value to the log. A good curl log will have smaller ripples very close together and run up to the first branch and beyond and will be more striking when quarter-sawn.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor J:
It also depends on the type of figure. If you peel the bark and the bumps look like a quilt or pillowy clouds, it's quilted maple. For musical instruments, they like it face sawn 3" thick x 9-10" wide x 28" long. Most places that buy music blocks will have graders to grade the quality of the figure and pay accordingly. If the bumps are more in a line, like ripples in a pond, it is flame figure. They like it quarter sawn, same dimentions.

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: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing

  • KnowledgeBase: Primary Processing: Sawmilling

    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 © 1996-2016 - 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