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soft maple verse hard maple question

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Forum topic by , posted 12-15-2009 04:08 AM 1040 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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,

2387 posts in 3007 days


12-15-2009 04:08 AM

I have always used hard maple, used it on a number of projects and kitchens. I don’t enjoy using the hard maple but it looks really nice if it is finished correctly.

Currently I have a small kitchen job, just 10’ of cabinet that is going to be a feature section, similar to rooms with a feature wall. They wanted it painted ‘jet’ black. I will be using a gloss black lacquer for the finish. Since we were painting the cabinets, I went with a soft maple for the first time. The batch I got my wood from was really clear and mostly ‘white’. Very nice looking. I noticed how easy it was to cut and run on my shaper. When I raised the panes, the wood shaped really easy and nice. I experienced none of the issues I have with hard maple when working this soft maple. Then I do a double take and ask myself if this is really maple, I mean it looks just like any of the hard maple I have used in the past but without all the pain.

So, in the future when I get a customer wanting a maple job, I know I will be tempted to substitute soft maple for the job. I have even thought about maybe using the hard maple for drawer faces, face frame, style and rail material while using soft maple for the panels inside the doors. The panels are the main thing because they shape so nicely on my shaper. We only run a 3 hp shaper and as of right now our power feeder is our “arms”, so raising say 30 to 50 panels out of hard maple becomes a real chore, trust me.

As a side note, we do plan to invest in a real power feeder soon though.

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7 replies so far

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5173 posts in 2655 days


#1 posted 12-15-2009 04:19 AM

Greetings Jerry: I would much rather work with soft maple as opposed to hard. I’ve worked with h.m., and as you pointed out, it is hard on equipment. Soft is sooooo much easier to machine. I can’t hardly tell the difference when I look at the two, but tell the dif. in tooling. And h.m. cost so much more. Stick with the s.m.—you can’t go wrong, and get the same results…........... Keep on keeping on.

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13347 posts in 3133 days


#2 posted 12-15-2009 04:28 AM

Soft Maple is a good hardwood to work with.

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,

2387 posts in 3007 days


#3 posted 12-15-2009 04:32 AM

I think I concur. It is hard for me to envision a ‘soft maple’ being in the hardwood family. I know it is softer then any of the ‘hardwoods’ I have worked with.

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,

2387 posts in 3007 days


#4 posted 12-17-2009 06:13 AM

I just built a set of doors out of the soft maple and they turned out really nice. They are getting painted though and I hate to see that happen.

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View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2716 posts in 2747 days


#5 posted 12-17-2009 05:20 PM

Jerry, we go through several thousand feet of soft maple every month for doors. When the batch is good, it’s pretty pleasant to work with. When it’s not, it’s a real pain. When we first started using it about 25 years ago, it was consistently good. I guess supply and demand took care of that. I never liked working with hard maple, and because of the price, everyone around here is too cheap to use it. Most guys are using soft maple here as a subsitute for cherry, again——-cheap! It doesn’t stain all that well, but the painters have learned to deal with it.

-- http://shepherdtoolandsupply.com/

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,

2387 posts in 3007 days


#6 posted 12-18-2009 05:16 AM

I am looking forward to doing my first full soft maple kitchen. I built 6 doors the other day out of the soft maple and they turned out nice. My wife did a sand/seal lacquer step today. Tomorrow we will spray a black lacquer on the doors and cabinet fronts.

Crazy thought, but would spraying a thin coat of sanding sealer over the maple help the maple accept a more even coat, sort of act like a conditioner? Just a thought but who knows?

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View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5173 posts in 2655 days


#7 posted 12-18-2009 08:42 AM

Greetings Jerry: Here’s my thoughts. You could probably spray a light coat of sealer on, then sand it a little. But I really don’t think it’s necessary, but I would try a sample before doing the doors. If you get a couple of good coats of primer on before painting, I think that’s all you need. You can even lightly sand the first coat of primer to get the other coat of primer to stick good. Then spray the first coat of black lacquer on, let dry good, then spary the finish coat on. To spray or not to spray sealer…............totally up to you…..........

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

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