Hard Versus Soft Maple

Quick basic info on hard and soft Maple. September 27, 2009

Question
Hi. To make quality cabinet doors which would be better: hard or soft maple, and why?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
If you are making a paint grade door then soft maple will suffice. If you are making a stain grade door then you will need to use hard maple so you don't end up with all of the soft maples blue and gray stain problems. You can sort through soft maple and get the nice color wood out of it but it can be time consuming and is rarely worth the money by the time you figure the sorting into the price. Also hard maple has a more consistent color to it than soft maple does.



From contributor Y:
For running soft maple as stain grade, order red maple. What we have been getting has been very nice. Itís easier to work with, and there is less tear-out on the molder than hard maple. If you just order soft maple you will get a mixed bag, even box elder.


From contributor V:
My supplier offers different grades of soft maple. The better grade is mostly white with a few grey areas. As the name implies, soft maple is fairly soft compared to other hardwoods.


From contributor X:
I use hard maple for everything - paint or stain. I use all the white and consistent boards for stained jobs and save the browner boards for paint. Hard maple paints up a lot nicer than soft maple and it doesn't get "fuzzy" like soft maple.


From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
As the name implies, soft maple (which includes red and silver maple mainly) is softer than hard maple (black and sugar maple). But hard maple is so hard, that soft maple is not really that soft. Red maple is not that far from cherry. Silver maple is indeed not as hard as red maple (red is 10% stronger, stiffer and harder), so asking for red maple is a good idea. Box elder, if included in soft maple, is not correct; the NHLA and standard industrial practice supports this position.