ArnoldAmorós

Hard or Soft Maple

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Whats the difference between hard and soft maple. Got some maple a while back before I knew about hard and soft varieties. Also, what are its uses of the different types, hard vs soft.

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As I understand it. Soft comes from Red Leaf Maple and Rock comes from silver leaf maple. Soft maple is still hard relative to poplar or pine etc. I wouldn't be expert enough to tell the difference just by visual inspection. Perhaps if you bite it like they do found gold on the old western tv shows. If your teeth leave a mark it's soft.

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As I understand it. Soft comes from Red Leaf Maple and Rock comes from silver leaf maple. Soft maple is still hard relative to poplar or pine etc. I wouldn't be expert enough to tell the difference just by visual inspection. Perhaps if you bite it like they do found gold on the old western tv shows. If your teeth leave a mark it's soft.

silver leaf(white) maple is a species of the tree as well as red leaf or rock maples being seperate species of the same tree. soft maples are not relatives to poplar or pine. might be in wood density but species no. pine is a softwood because of the seed having a soft shell encasing it, and poplar and maples having a hard shell encasing its seeds.

for the original poster, i actually haven't given it much thought when i build anything because i build smaller projects. i can only guess why it matters to someone unless they are just wanting to use the best material they can. rock maple tends to be used for tools more than furniture that I have noticed. if you are going to build a mallet rock maple is a better choice though my mallet i have no idea what type of maple is in it i just made it from what i had. as far as furniture when you consider people build large projects with pine i don't think you will see significant difference using hard maple over soft. thats my opinion that last part so people might disagree with me.

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Hard maple is Acer Saccarum, sugar maple, or Acer Nigrum, black maple. It's difficult to tell the difference, hard maple is denser, heavier, and harder. Generally it is whiter and more prone to birdseye. Generally soft maple has more colour and figure. Soft maple gives under findernail pressure. Hard maple smells sweet under the saw.

Soft maple's cells are smaller. The quartersawn edge will show rays that are consistent and small. Hard maple has larger pores and the occasional ray will be larger than the others.

I've heard of a test, I've never tried it but I've heard it works with minor inconsistencies.

Dissolve 2 TBS Iron Sulphate in a cup of water. The solution when wiped onto hard maple will turn greenish grey, the same on soft, blue black.

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In New England, I can get soft maple for a fairly reasonable price, so I've started using it quite a bit as a secondary wood instead of poplar. I've found that often I get some very nice figure (in fact a desk I did recently accidentally ended up with some very nice figured drawer bottoms).

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Speaking of secondary uses for soft maple. Ask for "paint grade" maple at you local HW dealer. My guy brings the whole pallet out on a fork lift and I can pick through. They consider curly soft a cull wood. There is also clear stock. Makes a great secondary wood and sometimes cheaper than poplar.

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