maple

Maple

Maple (Acer saccharum)

Hard Maple or Sugar Maple timber, derived from the Acer saccharum tree, has a light creamy-coloured, fine-grained wood. In boxmaking, we choose woods for their decorative appeal rather than their strength.

Characteristics of Maple

  1. Colour/Appearance — Sugar Maple typically has a light cream colour, often with a golden or reddish hue that deepens slightly with age and exposure to sunlight.
  2. Grain/Texture — The grain of Sugar Maple is generally straight, but it can also exhibit wave-like patterns known as “curly” or “birdseye” figuring, which are highly prized for their decorative appeal. The texture is fine and even, giving a smooth, satin finish.
  3. Odour — While working, Hard Maple has a faint, sweet scent reminiscent of the sap from which maple syrup is made, though it is generally not strong or persistent.
  4. Sustainability — One of the most abundant and widely distributed trees in North America, Sugar Maple is considered a sustainable choice when sourced from well-managed forests. It is regularly replanted and harvested under controlled conditions to ensure a steady supply without environmental degradation.
  5. Common Uses — Sugar Maple is extensively used in the manufacture of high-end furniture, flooring, and cabinetry, and in the woodworking industry for turning and carving. It is also the primary wood used for making bowling pins, bowling alley lanes, and other durable goods due to its hardness and resistance to wear.
  6. Alternative Names — Also known as Hard Maple or Rock Maple, highlighting its strength and density compared to other types of maple.
  7. Countries of Origin — Predominantly found in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, where it thrives in the temperate forest ecosystems.
  8. Box/Furniture Making — A top choice for due to its durability and the beautiful finish it can achieve. It’s neutral color and fine grain make it suitable for a variety of furniture styles, from modern minimalist pieces to more intricate, classic designs.

Wood Alternatives Based on Colour

  1. Birch — Similar in colour and grain, birch offers a slightly softer alternative but can achieve a comparable appearance and finish.
  2. Beech — Beech can mimic the light tones of maple and offers a similar grain texture, making it a suitable substitute in furniture and cabinetry.
  3. Ash — Ash has a light colour and a grain pattern that can be finished to resemble maple, with the added benefit of a distinctive grain that appeals to those looking for a more pronounced texture.

Summary

Maple, specifically Acer saccharum, is renowned for its light, warm tones and fine, consistent grain, making it an excellent material for a wide range of woodworking projects. Its ability to be finished to a high standard, coupled with its durability, makes it a popular choice among both amateur and professional woodworkers. Sugar Maple’s sustainability and the aesthetic qualities it brings to projects ensure that it remains a favourite in the construction of furniture, flooring, and decorative items.

More information for Maple

Find more information about the tree species Acer saccharum or more uses of Maple wood.

Related species:

Birds Eye Maple, Fiddleback Maple

These boxes are made with Maple & other woods