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Using Hard Maple

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I'm relatively new to hardwoods other than Oak. I love the color of Maple when finished, and that is why I chose this material to work with next.

How hard is Maple to work with compared to Oak? Are there some specifics I should look out for? I plan on buying a brand new table saw blade and jointer blades to ensure my project goes smoothly. But if there is anything else I should do, let me know :)

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The only oak I have used is red oak. However, I will say that I think Maple is easier to work with then red oak. The open grain of the red oak seems to make it a little more prone to tear out.

The challenge with maple comes in when you go to finish it. With stains Maple can be blotchy. You may want to consider a sanding sealer or Charles Neil's blotch control.

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I agree with MikeM. I've found red oak to be a little more chip- and tearout-prone than maple. When it comes to maple, be mindful of the species. All maple is hard and I think machines well, but 'hard maple' (also known as rock or sugar maple) really requires your tools to be at their sharpest. "Soft maple" is not a specific species but rather a collection of species, but it is also quite hard compared to other woods. Some of the figured maple (curly, birdseye) can cause grief with jointing and planing so be careful.I know my knife-based jointer sometimes has tearout when face jointing hard maple, but my planer with a Shelix head has no issues.

I found this to be an interesting read.... http://www.wood-data...and-soft-maple/

Marc also has an article on staining maple http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/articles/staining-maple/

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Basically, in a nutshell, I would be okay going with Soft Maple for a project such as an entertainment stand? Is there really a color difference between Hard and Soft Maple? I see at my hardwood dealer they only offer 3/4" plywood in Hard Maple.

With the finish, I intend to give it a clear coat, or something to make it just a shade darker.

Thank you for the articles.

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There is a color difference between hard and soft. Hard will be clear and white while soft has steaks of light brown. It would be good practice to work with the hard. Make sure you orientate grain direction properly when sending it through the jointer and plane as best you can. Also, just take your time and surface with light passes.

Instead of using stain, I love the way a 2 lb cut of shellac colors maple after multiple coats. I prefer the 2 lb because the amber color builds slowly with each coat and a better chance of a uniform color. Plus if there is any figure in your material it will accent it. Then you can topcoat with a varnish, lacquer, or your perfected topcoat for extra protection if need be.

Good luck

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There is a color difference between hard and soft. Hard will be clear and white while soft has steaks of light brown. It would be good practice to work with the hard. Make sure you orientate grain direction properly when sending it through the jointer and plane as best you can. Also, just take your time and surface with light passes.

Instead of using stain, I love the way a 2 lb cut of shellac colors maple after multiple coats. I prefer the 2 lb because the amber color builds slowly with each coat and a better chance of a uniform color. Plus if there is any figure in your material it will accent it. Then you can topcoat with a varnish, lacquer, or your perfected topcoat for extra protection if need be.

Good luck

I'm heading to the hardwood dealer today after classes. I'm going to pick up a small piece of hard maple and soft maple to experiment with. I want to see exactly how they are going to joint/plane/cut/etc before I make the big purchase.

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I just picked up a piece of hard and soft maple. Jointed them, planed them, and made them perfectly square on 3 faces. Then I ran it through the table saw and the whole side came out brown. I should be getting my new saw blade in the mail within a few hours. We will see how that helps.

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Maple is great stuff...

If you use clean and sharp blades, you'll be fine.

On the finsihing side... Maple blotches horribly when stained, but that can be used as an advantage with light colored dyes. The cool finishes you see on tiger maple are actually a result of blotching! If you want it dark, use a barrier coat and spray pigment stains.

It is normal to sand maple to a higher grit than you might be used to with open grain woods like red or white oak.

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Just experimented with both hard and soft maple for about an hour. Putting it through my planer, jointer, table saw, band saw, and different grits of sand paper. My only problem, I need new jointer blades! They are terrible! But that new table saw blade I just put on is TREMENDOUS.

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Not at all. It's like getting a new tool or other new toy to play with :) Learning the characteristics of a new wood can be just as exciting as learning about anything else. There's always a challenge to master.

I myself have been using a lot of hard maple lately in conjunction with birch ply for an entertainment center I'm building for a customer. Luckily, they wanted a very light "scandinavian" finish, so I've just been putting on a coat of shellac and then polyurethane, and the two seem to match pretty well. The only trouble I've been having, like others have said, is with a lot of burning. I've tried everything, but I've just resigned myself to sanding out the burns. And yes, I've noticed that I have to pay very close attention to grain direction on every operation. Still, the results are definitely worth it.

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Not at all. It's like getting a new tool or other new toy to play with :) Learning the characteristics of a new wood can be just as exciting as learning about anything else. There's always a challenge to master.

I myself have been using a lot of hard maple lately in conjunction with birch ply for an entertainment center I'm building for a customer. Luckily, they wanted a very light "scandinavian" finish, so I've just been putting on a coat of shellac and then polyurethane, and the two seem to match pretty well. The only trouble I've been having, like others have said, is with a lot of burning. I've tried everything, but I've just resigned myself to sanding out the burns. And yes, I've noticed that I have to pay very close attention to grain direction on every operation. Still, the results are definitely worth it.

I plan on cutting up the two pieces I have, resawing them, and putting several different finishes on all the pieces. I want to see how the pieces react and come out in the end. I think the next wood I want to work with is Walnut. I saw a few pieces at my hard wood dealer and I couldn't take my eyes off them.

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Walnut is an absolute joy to work with both hand and power tools, and super easy to finish. Unfortunately, I don't get to use it much, as the people I make furniture for prefer other woods. Since it's so much fun to use, I'll grab a board here and there to make frames or boxes.

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Is it weird for me to be so excited about working with a new wood like this?

Not at all! I have done the same. Also, whenever I take my youngest with me to the HW supplier he usually finds some wood he likes, either because of the name or the color. I still have some boards of Monkeywood laying around (he liked the name). I did use some in a shop-made mallet along with hard maple, and the contrast was very nice.

Walnut is starting to grow on me - I don't have any plans to make a piece entirely of walnut, but I do love how it contrasts with certain other lighter woods. That is on my list as a "get some to try it" wood the next time I make a HW run.

BTW - what did you get for a new blade? I've also had problems with burning on maple. Adjustments to the fence alway help, and good technique also helps - I've found that if I 'pause' when pushing the board through the blade, to adjust my hands or stance, leads to some burning.

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Not at all! I have done the same. Also, whenever I take my youngest with me to the HW supplier he usually finds some wood he likes, either because of the name or the color. I still have some boards of Monkeywood laying around (he liked the name). I did use some in a shop-made mallet along with hard maple, and the contrast was very nice.

Walnut is starting to grow on me - I don't have any plans to make a piece entirely of walnut, but I do love how it contrasts with certain other lighter woods. That is on my list as a "get some to try it" wood the next time I make a HW run.

BTW - what did you get for a new blade? I've also had problems with burning on maple. Adjustments to the fence alway help, and good technique also helps - I've found that if I 'pause' when pushing the board through the blade, to adjust my hands or stance, leads to some burning.

This is the blade I ended up getting: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00008WQ2X/ref=ox_ya_os_product

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If you get a kick out of working with new species of wood, get into turning. I've gone through at least 25 to 30 different types of exotics that way. When making really small items, it is not cost prohibitive.

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If you get a kick out of working with new species of wood, get into turning. I've gone through at least 25 to 30 different types of exotics that way. When making really small items, it is not cost prohibitive.

I wish I had a lathe. I've always wanted one. I will eventually buy one, but I just don't know when :)

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A lathe is relatively inexpensive, everything you need to use it isn't :)

Yeah, isn't that the case for all woodworking endeavors.

I am going to make my first project purchase of hard wood tomorrow. I have my entire cut list printed out, and I'm ready to go. Hopefully I can find some good deals on short cut pieces for everything I need. They had a pretty vast selection of pieces around 25" and luckily I need 20 pieces that size :)

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If you have a lumber mill in your area (not a lumber yard or hardwood dealer, an actual mill) you can get much better prices. Thankfully living in the north east, maple is pretty plentiful around here. I pay a little over 2$ a board foot for hard maple at the mill. At a hardwood reseller, It's about twice that.

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$2.15/BF for hard maple (select or better).

$1.95/BF for soft maple (select or better).

Those are the prices for me. My supply comes from Kettle Moraine Hardwoods in Wisconsin.

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I really love the look of figured maple but I hate working with the stuff. It burns very easily and the burn marks are very hard to get rid of. Another problem with it is that it clogs the jointer and planer every time if you're running a lot of board feet.

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I really love the look of figured maple but I hate working with the stuff. It burns very easily and the burn marks are very hard to get rid of. Another problem with it is that it clogs the jointer and planer every time if you're running a lot of board feet.

I did notice a lot of shavings that would stay within the planer every time I put a board through. I wasn't sure if this was the wood or the planer causing this. I ran several pieces of red oak through without anything like this happening.

For my jointer, however, I made a dust collection port that creates a near perfect suction on the chip ejection. I have the Delta 37-070 model in my shop. Even though it is small, it really works well. The variable speed is a good feature. I've never used another jointer, so I'm unsure how common this feature is/was.

EDIT:

When I go to finish my project, I want to minimize any error I can. I have read so many articles and opinions on finishing maple, and I can't quite decipher which might be the best. Perhaps if I tell you guys my intended shade, you might be able to provide a good method of attaining it :) The friend I am making this entertainment stand for likes lighter wood, which is why I chose maple. Although the shade of natural maple is too light for his taste. He is looking for a little darker shade of blonde. Any tips?

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I just got home and I think I made a pretty good choice on my selection. I got two 5/4 soft maple boards 11" wide, and 98.5" long. They looked like they came from the same tree when cut. So the color match is really good, which fueled my decision to get these two boards instead of a mix of 4/4 and 5/4 boards.

I need a top that is 18.5" x 50" x 1" and a lot of rails/stiles for doors and face frames at a 3/4" thickness. I can get all the wood out of these two pieces, which is why I went this direction. I think that if I can re-saw about 1/4" or 3/8" off some small pieces for edge banding. I will have to lay out the wood to see my plans.

Also, how long should I let this acclimate in my shop? The humidity and temperature are controlled pretty well.

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