Water or Silver Maple: is this like hard maple for wood working?

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Forum topic by crank49 posted 11-09-2010 11:19 PM 3433 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4032 posts in 3210 days

11-09-2010 11:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: water maple limbs

I have a huge maple tree that I am wondering if it is the same type wood as hard maple. I have been told it is a water maple. It’s about 3-1/2 ft diameter at the base, about 60 ft to 70 ft high. The trunk does not fork out into smaller branches till it gets way up; maybe 40 feet. There are a gazillion limbs coming off the trunk and running more or less horizontal. These limbs are up to 8” diameter at the base. I suppose the wood would be knotty due to these limbs, but is that a bad thing?
I have been reading in another post that limb wood is not suitable for wood working. I would hate to waste all that wood. The limbs on this thing make up much more than half the volume.
Is this marketable wood?

7 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3313 days

#1 posted 11-09-2010 11:44 PM

I’m a little lost on the phrase, “water maple”. I’ve never heard of it. The phrase, “silver maple” means a soft maple. Note that the term “soft” is relative. It is still a relatively hard wood, but not as hard as hard maple (a.k.a. sugar maple).

Limbs are not good for boards or any flatwork. They can be good for turning and, of course, firewood.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4366 days

#2 posted 11-10-2010 12:03 AM

Silver maple (water maple) is fine for woodworking.
Although not as hard as sugar maple, it is hard enough for serious furniture.
It’s considered an invasive species in this part of Kentucky.
Therefore, I can get it from cheap to free for the asking.

I also use a lot of Boxelder, another soft maple species.

-- 温故知新

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4316 days

#3 posted 11-10-2010 01:49 AM

A Google search came up with this.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Lochlainn1066's profile


138 posts in 3016 days

#4 posted 11-10-2010 02:57 AM

I love the look of silver maple wood. I’ve only turned it, so I don’t know its furniture properties well, but some people use it or aspen in place of poplar as a secondary wood.

It turns beautifully. Very fine grained, no noticeable pores, and the early/late lines are unique. I wish I had more, it’s only a yard tree here and has a tendency to fork low to the ground.

Dunno if a pro sawyer would be interested in it, but if you hire a bandmill or DIY, definitely worth the lumber, and if you know turners you might be able to make a few bucks off of limbwood bowl blanks. Be sure to wax them the same day and cut them in half at the pith, they WILL split quickly.

-- Nate,

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 3272 days

#5 posted 11-10-2010 03:19 AM

We had to have 2 Silver Maple trees taken out 2 years ago, so I cut up a bunch of it and it’s drying in my shed until I find a use for it.
It seems to be nowhere near as hard as regular Maple, but not as soft as Pine.

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3162 days

#6 posted 11-10-2010 03:51 AM

Nice article about soft maple in the new Woodshop News this month.
I think if you cut up the trunk and sticker it for drying you will be very pleased. If not, you still have the firewood.
Don’t waste your time with the limb wood.

-- Life is good.

View Richard 's profile


394 posts in 3360 days

#7 posted 11-10-2010 04:40 AM

Silver maple aways amazes me. Sometimes it is plain and rather boring, other times it is highly figured with many different colors to it. I guess the coloring has to do with the minerals in the soil and if the tree has suffered an injury. Sometimes the ugliest looking silver maples turn out the best wood. I had a tree taken out with a rotten center, the limbs were stunted, and there were huge mushrooms growing out of a large cavity in the trunk which used to be a limb which broke off during a storm. The wood turned out colored with some serious spalting to it.

So experiment, maybe your tree has some nice looking wood, or like Howie….firewood.

-- Richard Boise, Idaho

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