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hard or soft maple for closet organizer?

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Forum topic by mnorusis posted 11-23-2011 04:49 PM 1000 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mnorusis

153 posts in 2604 days


11-23-2011 04:49 PM

I’m building another closet organizer (you can see the walnut one in my projects) and am going to use maple.

Since I’m never really sure when to use hard vs. soft maple, does anyone know if soft maple is okay for something like this?

Thanks!
Mike


4 replies so far

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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2511 days


#1 posted 11-23-2011 05:07 PM

I should start by saying I haven’t done this before, so I’ll be learning along with you on this one. Here is how I’m thinking this through:

I’m sure you can get away with using either one. With that being said, hard maple is going to be stronger and should work better for the wider spans. You could probably get away with combining the two, especially if you’re going to dye or stain the wood. The colors and grain patterns will likely be a little different though, so take that into consideration. If you were going to combine them, I’d use the hard maple for the horizontal pieces, especially any long spans, then use the soft maple for the vertical pieces since wood is very strong in this position. If it were me, I think I’d lean towards using hard maple for strength (first consideration), and also consistency. I tend to lean towards over-engineering and over-building things though. The only time I’ve combined the two species was for a cutting board or two, nothing like this where weight needs to be considered.

Soft maple is a little “softer” than walnut, but not by much when you look at the Janka hardness scale. It’s likely to show dings a bit easier than hard maple. Things like belt buckles, etc. landing on it hard will show up easier on the soft maple than the hard maple.

The growth rings should be closer together on the hard maple since it grows slower. This also leads to more density, so it will be heavier than the soft maple, and also stronger.

Are you thinking about using the soft maple to save a little money? If you go all soft maple, you might want to use a slightly thicker board for the horizontal pieces (such as 5/4-stock, instead of 4/4-stock). This could just be me over-engineering things again though.

I’d say it will really depend on the spans involved, versus thickness of stock, versus the amount of weight that the span needs to support. When it comes down to it, soft maple could certainly work for all of it, especially if you don’t have any wide spans.

I’m sure you’ll get quite a few different responses to your question, and I’ll be curious to see what everybody else thinks.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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Dan

3630 posts in 2341 days


#2 posted 11-23-2011 05:28 PM

Soft maple will be fine… I used Soft maple for some of my workbench top and its very solid. Its not really soft so the name is a bit misleading.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2511 days


#3 posted 11-23-2011 05:35 PM

As Dan said, the term “soft” is misleading, as it’s not really that soft. It’s a 950 on the Janka Hardness scale, versus 1010 for Walnut. Hard Maple is a 1450. For comparison, American Cherry is also a 950.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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BentheViking

1763 posts in 2025 days


#4 posted 12-30-2011 06:43 AM

In flooring Red Oak is used as the standard benchmark with a Janka rating of 1290. Hickory is probably the hardest common domestic at 1820. Ipe/Brazilian Walnut is probably the hardest common exotic with a rating of 3680.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

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