All Replies on 12/4" Soft Maple Wood Gloat and NEED for Project Suggestions

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View HorizontalMike's profile

12/4" Soft Maple Wood Gloat and NEED for Project Suggestions

by HorizontalMike
posted 01-11-2012 05:25 AM

19 replies so far

View ETwoodworks's profile


92 posts in 2687 days

#1 posted 01-11-2012 10:22 AM

I might suggest laying it out on your workbench/ floor and cracking open a cold beer (or other beverage of your choice but I like Busch Light). Walk around it, look at it and just wait till an idea comes to you. This is how we come up with my favoite projects in my shop.

-- Building quality in a throw away world.

View rustfever's profile


752 posts in 3304 days

#2 posted 01-11-2012 11:01 AM

As I always reply to those asking what I will make with a pile wood, I say “It has not spoken to me, yet.”

-- Rustfever, Central California

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2908 days

#3 posted 01-11-2012 04:55 PM

I am sure that with much more building experience under the belt the ”Beer Whisperer” method would work out just fine, ;-)

This brings me to an experience I had a dozen or so years ago when building my very first outside wooden deck. A retired friend of mine (who had built several decks) offered to help and pitch in. Having NO experience at this, I would ask for suggestions about the best of several different methods/ways to set and build the deck, supports, layout, best materials, etc.

To make a long story short… the ONLY advise my friend would give, no matter how pointed the question was, was, ”... You can build the deck any way you want to.” I am now forced to live with ALL of my inexperienced errors in judgement every time I walk across that particular deck. As a direct result of that experience I have placed the ”Beer Whisperer” in the corner with a pointy hat when it comes to spontaneously coming up with projects.

So with THAT in mind, I would like to rephrase my question(s):

1. What single item projects work WELL, or VERY WELL with Soft Maple?

2. What single item projects would be POOR choices/uses to build with Soft Maple?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2952 days

#4 posted 01-11-2012 07:47 PM

Softer maples like “big leaf” or “silver leaf” are beautiful cosmetically, but aren’t so good for impact or cutting board type applications (in my opinion, of course). I recommend small to medium sized boxes for yourself or as gifts, picture frames, smallish decorative turnings, carvings, christmas tree ornaments, things like that. Some people even make jewelry like ear rings and pendants from it. It’s easy and nice to work with, with a nice aroma to complement the work being done. Sounds like a nice score, best of luck with it.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Randy_ATX's profile


878 posts in 2436 days

#5 posted 01-12-2012 04:59 AM

Although I don’t have a direct answer for your project at this time – here is some food for thought I was just reading regarding soft maple considerations (mostly final color and hardness).

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2908 days

#6 posted 01-12-2012 05:19 AM

Hey Thanks Randy! I picked this Soft Maple up just yesterday in Hutto, after driving thru Austin to get there. 8-)

I really do NOT understand the class warfare thing being waged against Soft vs Hard Maple other than to attribute it to one-up-manship. The guy I got this from was closing up a 22,000sqft shop after +27yr of building not much more than Soft Maple furniture/display products. Says he made a lot of $$$ doing just that but is now retiring at 59, just as I ramp up in retirement to WW’r status at 59… go figure…

All I know is $2/BF is a bargain that I can afford to make a few mistakes with. 8-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View tom427cid's profile


294 posts in 2465 days

#7 posted 01-12-2012 08:44 AM

There aint no class warfare,its just another kind of wood each has characteristics better suited than the other.
I use ‘em both

-- "certified sawdust maker"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2908 days

#8 posted 01-12-2012 02:43 PM

While I am NOT picking on Nomad, he brings up a point I found in several (more than a few) searches/posts on Soft Maple from several different websites and blogs. Trying to understand the basis for this bias, be it pro or con.

With that in mind, what do YOU think are the BEST uses for this stuff and what kinds of things should I avoid building with Soft Maple? Thanks.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2991 days

#9 posted 01-12-2012 02:59 PM

Spoil yourself. Built another workbench. Maybe a mini version to be transported around.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2908 days

#10 posted 01-12-2012 03:04 PM

Now THAT has crossed my mind as well! My old secondary bench still gets a lot of use and it is just a 2×4 and plywood structure that is probably 40yr old if not more. That thing was given to me ~20yr ago from a retiree that was getting too old to use it anymore and the bench was old AT THAT TIME.

Hmm… 8-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2952 days

#11 posted 01-12-2012 06:46 PM

I never meant any reference to any kind of wood as being generally better for everything, just making a statement about the wood you are stating you have and want to use. I personally like hard maple better as I feel it looks the best under specific conditions, but I have about 2000 bf of burled, tiger striped soft maple slabs I cut and are quite proud of them as well. You wanted small projects, I offered some up. No offense, aggression, or “class warfare” intended.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Jeff's profile


433 posts in 3188 days

#12 posted 01-12-2012 07:15 PM

Something I’ve been thinking about is some bedroom furniture for the as yet not available grand-children. I’m thinking of maple since it has a nice neutral color and grain.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2908 days

#13 posted 01-12-2012 11:02 PM

Hey Nomad, I understand your point and truly I am not picking on you. It is that there just seems to be a lot of folks’ postings (beyond LJs) where people consider soft Maple as a 2nd class wood almost on par with Poplar, to be used in backs of drawers and/or out of sight.

Having never worked with soft Maple, I do not know its + and _’s but would be appreciative if I were to be clued into that knowledge base. Hence all of my questions… ;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4928 posts in 3954 days

#14 posted 01-12-2012 11:23 PM

Your best project wouild to bring about 75 bf to me in Mississippi. BWAHAHAHA!
Good haul.


View StumpyNubs's profile


7588 posts in 2795 days

#15 posted 01-12-2012 11:25 PM

I love soft maple. It often has fantastic figure and color. Great score!

(The greatest woodworking show mankind has ever conceived is now online!)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 3297 days

#16 posted 01-12-2012 11:50 PM

Workbench, saw bench, bodger bench (shave horse), Saw horses, Asian work trestle, horizontal and vertical lumber and sheet goods storage, carved entrance gate to driveway, garage door, shop door, back door, front door, maple split backpack baskets, carved food service ware, cull figured stuff for new trim-boxes-paneling, wainscoating, substantial casegoods, church altar-pulpit-readerstand, laminate and carve furniture, wood art. Finish everything for the outdoors with epoxy, sikkens or annual spar varnish. Find your perfect interior finish by experimenting with your maple. Donate to school industrial arts program-competition, fundraiser, Highschool trophy case.

I have a few more for the next 1000 ft. Good luck. On Wisconsin!

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2686 days

#17 posted 01-13-2012 12:14 AM

A stool to sit on at your telescope?

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2908 days

#18 posted 01-13-2012 02:32 AM

Stevie, that wainscoating sounds interesting… Hmm… the front door? Hmm… now that is a maybe… 8-)

Darrell, maybe not the stool, HOWEVER, I do have a printer table in the observatory that holds my monitor and keyboard that need replacing. It’s on rollers but is showing its age and the plastic laminate is coming off. That sounds very doable…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View semi75's profile


78 posts in 2894 days

#19 posted 01-13-2012 03:43 AM

Soft maple seems like an ideal workbench material to me. You also happen to have enough to make a Roubo Bench :O

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