soft maple for shaker door frames?

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Forum topic by Charlie posted 06-02-2012 07:40 PM 2290 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1100 posts in 2307 days

06-02-2012 07:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’ve been building my kitchen cabinets and using hard maple for the face frames. And it’s HARD which I’m sure is why we call it that. The cabinets are getting painted. I’ll be on to making 14 doors pretty soon. The hard maple might last me through the doors, but ….. should I go get soft maple for the door frames? I’m going to be using Blum Clip Top hinges and drilling those big cups in the door stiles is going to be a b%$&@ in the hard maple I think. I was looking at poplar and soft maple. Poplar seems a little too soft for door frames, but since I’ve never done this I figured this is the place to ask. :)

8 replies so far

View killerb's profile


150 posts in 2419 days

#1 posted 06-02-2012 07:49 PM

Soft maple is not near as soft as poplar. I would use it with no issues. Drilling in hard maple is or should be fine. If it is that hard to drill, check your bits. I use it all the time. But soft maple will work fine. Hope this helps. bob

-- Bob

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2307 days

#2 posted 06-02-2012 08:13 PM

It helps a lot, Bob. Thanks. I can get more hard maple if I need it to finish the doors. Just gotta run it through the planer.

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4031 posts in 2255 days

#3 posted 06-02-2012 10:10 PM

Bob beat me to it. He’s absolutely correct. You should note however, that I used poplar on my painted bathroom cabinet frames and doors without problem (see my portfolio at ), and have done so for years. Poplar is slightly more stable usually because it tends to be straighter, and out here the soft maple is almost the same density as poplar. Poplar is great for sliding stuff because it resists abrasion better than most other woods.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2307 days

#4 posted 06-03-2012 12:32 AM

ok, I just drilled a simuated cup hole in the hard maple with a 1-3/8 forstner and it was no problem at all. I think that’s pretty darn close to the 35mm hole called for and I can just use the hard maple I have and go get another couple of boards if I need more..

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3709 days

#5 posted 06-03-2012 12:50 AM

Poplar is used all the time and takes paint exceptionally well .
Can’t see spending the good money on Maple just to paint over it , but … to each his own : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2210 days

#6 posted 06-07-2012 02:42 AM

I agree with those who say the hardness of hard maple should not be a problem if your cutters are sharp. Out on the west coast we have Big Leaf Maple, which is softer than eastern maple but not that much. I doubt the soft maple you refer to would be too soft for you.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Bobmedic's profile


379 posts in 2823 days

#7 posted 06-08-2012 01:58 AM

The hard maple won’t be a problem for a good sharp bit. The name “Soft” maple is a little misleading. Soft maple is not that soft. It isn’t as hard as Hard maple but it is still very hard and like others have said it is much harder than pine or poplar.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3308 days

#8 posted 06-08-2012 05:03 PM

We have made thousands of shaker doors in soft maple. You should not have any problems.
I don’t care for poplar for a shaker door. It paints well, but is not as stable as soft maple.

There is no way I wouild waste hard maple on a painted door.


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