Soft maple is another staple in American hardwoods found throughout the US but primarily on the eastern side of the country. This is another species where the sapwood is more desirable than the heartwood. With a fine, even texture, and straight grain, soft maple machines well with both hand and power tools, and turns, glues, and finishes well. Soft maple is common as a veneer, in cabinetry, musical instruments, and the pallet industry. Maple (both hard but typically soft) are fairly regularly offered with a variety of figuring such as tiger stripe, curly, flame, quilted, birds eye, waterfall and many more. These examples are typically reserved for accent pieces on larger furniture, smaller specialty boxes (display cases, jewelry boxes etc.), musical instruments and other things in which it’s highly figured grain will stand out. Care must be taken when machining the highly figured specimens as the inconsistent grain direction can easily tear out. Another subgroup in the maple category is ambrosia maple. These trees have been attacked by the ambrosia beetle and have a varying number of holes bored in irregular directions throughout. A fungus in the beetles mouth breaks down the wood to extract nutrients, this in turns discolors the wood in a variety of colors not limited to greys, greens, blues, and pinks. Soft maple covers a variety of species, but typically has a Janka rating of around 950, and a weight around 3.5 pounds per board foot.
VARIATIONS AND OPTIONS
4/4 refers to lumber that was cut at 1 inch thickness
15/16ths has been skip planed (a majority of the surfacing work has been done, there may be a few spots that are still rough, but the grain of the particular piece of wood should be visible)
13/16ths is commonly called finish planed. This should be ready for sanding and finish
Ripped 1 Edge is lumber that has been run through a straight-line rip saw. This allows for easy squaring on a table saw.
Sanded refers to a select few lumber options that have been run through a belt sander and are 100% finish ready.
5/4 lumber was sawn at 1.25 inches in thickness.
6/4 lumber was sawn at 1.5 inches in thickness.
8/4 lumber was sawn at 2 inches in thickness.
10/4 lumber was sawn at 2.5 inches in thickness.
12/4 lumber was sawn at 3 inches in thickness.