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Maple for a coffee table

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Forum topic by HarleySoftailDeuce posted 02-27-2017 01:46 PM 560 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HarleySoftailDeuce

320 posts in 3257 days


02-27-2017 01:46 PM

Hello LJ members,

I have offered to tutor a friend through a coffee table build. He has no experience…so I’ll go slowly and as always…safety first. Anyway…he and his wifes’ choice for wood is Maple.

Can you guys recommend which kind of maple I should use for this project ?
I’ve always used Cherry and Quarter Sawn white oak.

Perhaps there is another light wood species that is light in color that would also be a bertter choice.

I buy from Downes & Reader in Stoughton MA. for my lumber.

Thanks for all your help.

Paul

-- Paul, Bristol,Rhode Island


11 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4478 posts in 2188 days


#1 posted 02-27-2017 02:02 PM

Ambrosia maple for the top, very stunning wood.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Jon Hobbs's profile

Jon Hobbs

79 posts in 541 days


#2 posted 02-27-2017 06:49 PM

Since he’s a novice, perhaps building a “prototype” with a less expensive wood, like poplar, first might be a good idea. Then do it “for real” with more expensive wood.

Hard maple is a very popular choice. What other options does your supplier offer?

-- Jon -- Just a Minnesota kid hanging out in Kansas

View buckbuster31's profile

buckbuster31

200 posts in 353 days


#3 posted 02-27-2017 07:20 PM

with your help, I see no reason in not trying expensive wood if you are going to be walking him through step by step and aiding. I like hard maple, but in my experience does not stain well, so I wouldn’t count on staining any of it!

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1425 posts in 1826 days


#4 posted 02-27-2017 08:23 PM

Being a coffee table, the harder the wood the better – hard maple. Of the readily available common hardwoods, with a tight grain (vs oak or ash with open grain) and a light color, maple is the choice. Maple takes color just fine if the wood is prepped properly. Read this for blotch control.

View HarleySoftailDeuce's profile

HarleySoftailDeuce

320 posts in 3257 days


#5 posted 02-28-2017 11:37 PM

Thanks OSSUS for your input. I’m going with the hard maple; Downes & Reader in Stoughton, MA.
I’ll read your attachment about blotch control. I’ve used Seal-A-Cell for blotch prone woods…but not sure until I read your attachment. Nice thing about Maple; it’s usually very clean…not too much waste.

-- Paul, Bristol,Rhode Island

View mrbob's profile

mrbob

182 posts in 406 days


#6 posted 03-01-2017 12:11 AM

Soft maple is just a term, actually if you look at the Janka wood hardness scale, soft maple is pretty hard and much easier to work with compared to hard maple. I would use soft maple and go for it the first time on the build.
This is a good read on the difference of the 2.
http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/differences-between-hard-maple-and-soft-maple/

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1425 posts in 1826 days


#7 posted 03-01-2017 12:58 PM

mrbob makes a valid point – soft maple is easier to work. An option is to use both – hard maple for the top and soft for the rest of the table. On the Janka scale, hard maple is almost 2x soft maple. No matter what one does as a finish, softer wood will crush underneath the finish, such as when a drink or dish is accidently dropped on a table top.

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HarleySoftailDeuce

320 posts in 3257 days


#8 posted 03-01-2017 02:54 PM

Thanks you guys for so much your input. I’m going to use the soft maple (to save the tools) and the man I’m tutoring on his first experience in a wood shop wants to stain the piece anyway. What do you mean by “crush” underneath ? So if staining is an issue…I’m sure there is specific finishes that will seal the table top. Please clarify for me. Also…I would appreciate any info you guys have on finishing soft Maple.
I have so much to learn about wood and finishes. But thanks to the guys and gals on LJ….that journey is paved with valuable information I can use.
Paul

-- Paul, Bristol,Rhode Island

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1425 posts in 1826 days


#9 posted 03-01-2017 09:14 PM

Crush – Im sure you have seen a larger dent in a table top, not just in the film finish, but down into the wood. A finish will harden/stiffen the wood fibers on the surface, and to maybe .020 or below the surface. Below that the wood is the hardness of whatever species was used. The softer the wood the more easily the fibers below the finish can be crushed, leaving a dent. Staining or coloring the wood is not an issue, just that maple will blotch unless the wood is properly prepped. Read the blotch control blog tied to the link in the previous post.

As for finish, a lot depends on how you plan to apply it – spray or by hand, how much of a film build you want, and will it be fully filled or allow the grain to telegraph through – what I call a “close to the wood” finish. Being a table, you probably want some film build for abrasion and moisture resistance.

View HarleySoftailDeuce's profile

HarleySoftailDeuce

320 posts in 3257 days


#10 posted 03-02-2017 01:33 AM

Again…thanks for all the valuable information. I have to print out your comments and will keep them handy when I start to do the finishing.

Paul

-- Paul, Bristol,Rhode Island

View Kelster58's profile

Kelster58

298 posts in 377 days


#11 posted 03-02-2017 01:41 AM

Good luck on your project. Can’t wait to see it.

I find I learn so much from the people here on this site. These are some very good replies. Thanks everyone !

-- K. Stone “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

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