Does anybody know what makes maple "curly" or "quilted?"

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Forum topic by JasonIndy posted 06-10-2010 03:48 AM 6495 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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187 posts in 3633 days

06-10-2010 03:48 AM

Specifically, what happens to a maple tree that creates different kinds of figuring?

7 replies so far

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 3156 days

#1 posted 06-10-2010 06:55 PM

It pretty much is due to the stresses it grows under. When a tree is small, there is a relatively small amount of wood growth to a ring; once the circumference bocomes large, the amount of wood needed to create a ring is multiplied greatly. This growth happens, and sometimes the growth has to grow against another growing part, say like in a “crotch” point or at the point where the tree meets the dirt and and has the weight of the tree sitting on top of it. The wood goes where it can, causing waves and uneven rings and, in my opinion, burling. Sometimes there is no room to move, and the stress generates some beautiful patterns from tensioned and compressed wood fibers. It happens to other trees as well as maple, it’s just that maples do it very well.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View CharlesNeil's profile


2457 posts in 4069 days

#2 posted 06-10-2010 06:58 PM

I ask this question about 20 years ago of Dr Lamb of Va Tech college, he was considered the leading authority, he sent me a stack of papers about 3 Inches high on stuff he had researched and written, it conculded , they have no idea, but a zillion theories , from experience I can tell you , you can get 20 experts together and you will have 48 opinions… just be thankful it does and enjoy the wood

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 3725 days

#3 posted 06-10-2010 07:26 PM

I don’t know either, but a 2”x 24”x 36”, piece of really nice looking quilted maple is going for 850 dollars at the Woodworkers store in Seattle.

Other nice pieces, not as nice as that one , go between, 60 and up from there.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View poroskywood's profile


618 posts in 3562 days

#4 posted 06-10-2010 07:43 PM

I’ve handled it all of my life in the saw mill. I always say it’s of undetermined cause and Charles is correct about everyone’s opinion in that they mostly differ. However, my theory is similar to Nomad62’s. I think it starts very early with the sprout against a rock or another root, the ripple effect is then carried through out it’s growth. I’ve heard wind, moisture, bird and a number more.

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View JasonIndy's profile


187 posts in 3633 days

#5 posted 06-11-2010 03:51 AM

Wow, fascinating. I didn’t realize it was still a mystery. As far as the price, I’m very clear mtnwild, that’s why I was hoping it was possible to create different types of figuring. Then again I’m sure if you could they wouldn’t be so expensive. Thanks everybody for replying.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4498 days

#6 posted 06-11-2010 03:21 PM

I think its natures way of giving us a variety of different wood figures just for us woodworkers.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Eli's profile


141 posts in 3204 days

#7 posted 06-11-2010 03:36 PM

If they knew, I’d imagine someone would have learned to manufacture it. I’m surprised that no one has.

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