Working with Maple

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Forum topic by woodworkingdrew posted 03-23-2014 03:05 PM 1731 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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190 posts in 1808 days

03-23-2014 03:05 PM

I know its next to impossible to use one wood for every project, but I was wondering if someone could tell me there experiences with Maple. Is this wood easy to work with? finishing? price points? Thanks

-- Andrew, California

12 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3776 days

#1 posted 03-23-2014 03:21 PM

There’s more than one kind of Maple, in general in my area the most command are referred to as soft and hard maple.Soft maple is not really that soft it’s just not as hard as hard maple .In my area soft maple cost about 40% less than hard maple . Soft maple seems to have more color to it ,sometime brown streaks and or yellow tones.Hard maple is much closer to white in color . Both types are hard durable woods suitable for table tops and many projects. They tend to mill very well.Maple like many other woods tend to blotch when finishing so a blotch control is nessasary to get a non blotchy finish.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View cabmaker's profile


1740 posts in 3008 days

#2 posted 03-23-2014 03:26 PM

Well said Jim, can’t add much to that other than feed speed is crucial as the op will learn.JB

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2823 days

#3 posted 03-23-2014 03:32 PM

without SHARP tools Maple along with Cherry has a tendency to burn.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 2134 days

#4 posted 03-23-2014 06:01 PM

The first project I ever did out of a hardwood was maple. I does machine pretty well and work well with hand tools. I honestly have never tried to stain it or put any finish on it other than oil, but if Jim says it is blotchy, I would take his word for it. The one thing about working with maple, especially hard maple, is that you can’t fight the grain. I learned that the hard way. Some woods will give you a little leeway with grain direction changes. Maple isn’t one of them. It is incredibly difficult to do anything against the grain in maple. If you can find good pieces though, it is relatively cheap and it a great smooth grained light wood that works for almost anything.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View woodtickgreg's profile


212 posts in 3317 days

#5 posted 03-23-2014 10:40 PM

There are many variations of maple, and the color possibilities just as varied. And then there’s ambrosia, curly and spalted. I personally love the stuff, turns great green or dry, but really fun dry. For furniture and cabinets it’s relatively inexpensive and plentiful. Makes a good secondary wood too for drawers and drawer runners and such. Lots of uses for maple, love it almost as much as walnut, the 2 together compliment each other.

-- wood tick tools for turners by woodtickgreg @

View CharlesA's profile


3351 posts in 1997 days

#6 posted 03-23-2014 10:49 PM

In my experience, I need to be more careful using thickness planer with maple than a wood like cherry. While it is especially true with curly maple, I find that sometimes regular maple is a bit more likely to tear out in the thickness planer. Dampening the wood and skewing it fixes that problem for the most part.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View WDHLT15's profile


1792 posts in 2675 days

#7 posted 03-23-2014 11:56 PM

Red maple is one of my most favorite woods to work with.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 2089 days

#8 posted 03-24-2014 12:05 AM

Correct Charles. I’ve used a damp rag for hand planes and a planer. Works wonders. I find with maple if my plane blades aren’t %100 sharp, it will not cut efficiently.

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4291 days

#9 posted 03-24-2014 01:21 AM

Charles, Lateralus tell me more about the water trick…

I’ve got about 80 bd/ft of maple to plane. I use my jointer to flatten one side, I don’t get any tear out, jointer has straight knives. When I send it through my planer, I do get some tear out. 15” planer, with a SHELIX head.

Only happens with hard maple. Planer does great with figured wood.

-- Nicky

View CharlesA's profile


3351 posts in 1997 days

#10 posted 03-24-2014 01:27 AM

Two parts to the technique:
1) take a wet rag and wipe down side of board to be planed.
2) Skew the board as it goes through the planer to the extent you can according to width and length of board.

repeat for each pass.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4291 days

#11 posted 03-24-2014 01:29 AM

Thanks Charles. I will give this a try.

-- Nicky

View Todd Sauer's profile

Todd Sauer

28 posts in 1724 days

#12 posted 03-24-2014 01:36 AM

I may be new here, but I really enjoy working with maple. I feel it is stable with regard to movement and warp and it sands really well. It does have a tendency to burn if blades aren’t sharp enough or if they linger too long in one spot, but that can be managed with some care.

In my limited experience, it has been my go-to lumber due to price and availability.

-- --Sauerkins; Duluth, MN

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