Differences Between Hard Maple and Soft Maple

by Eric Meier Perhaps you’ve seen a type of lumber for sale known as “Soft Maple,” and were wondering: what’s the difference between between this Soft Maple and Hard Maple? Just how soft is it? Why does it cost about half as much as Hard Maple? How can I tell the two apart? Well, here are the answers: What’s the Difference? Hardness of Maples Compared Telling the Two Types of Maples Apart   What’s the...

Hard Maple

...Hard Maple (Acer saccharum) Common Name(s): Hard Maple, Sugar Maple, Rock Maple...

Black Maple

Black Maple (Acer nigrum) Common Name(s): Black Maple, Black Sugar Maple Scientific Name: Acer nigrum Distribution: Northeastern United States Tree Size: 80-115 ft (25-35 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 40 lbs/ft3 (640 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .52, .64 Janka Hardness: 1,180 lbf (5,250 N) Modulus of Rupture: 13,300 lbf/in2 (91.7 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,620,000 lbf/in2 (11.17 GPa) Crushing...

Silver Maple

Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) Common Name(s): Silver Maple Scientific Name: Acer saccharinum Distribution: Northeastern United States Tree Size: 80-115 ft (25-35 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 33 lbs/ft3 (530 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .44, .53 Janka Hardness: 700 lbf (3,110 N) Modulus of Rupture: 8,900 lbf/in2 (61.4 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,140,000 lbf/in2 (7.86 GPa) Crushing Strength: 5,220...

Bigleaf Maple

Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) Common Name(s): Bigleaf Maple Scientific Name: Acer macrophyllum Distribution: Coastal regions of Pacific North America Tree Size: 80-100 ft (25-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 34 lbs/ft3 (545 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .44, .55 Janka Hardness: 850 lbf (3,780 N) Modulus of Rupture: 10,700 lbf/in2 (73.8 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,450,000 lbf/in2 (10.00 GPa) Crushing...

Striped Maple

Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum) Common Name(s): Striped Maple Scientific Name: Acer pensylvanicum Distribution: Eastern North America Tree Size: 20-30 ft (6-10 m) tall, 8 in (.25 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 32 lbs/ft3 (515 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .44, .51 Janka Hardness: 770 lbf (3,430 N)* *Estimated hardness based on specific gravity Modulus of Rupture: No data available* Elastic Modulus: No data available*...

Field Maple

Field Maple (Acer campestre) Common Name(s): Field Maple, Hedge Maple Scientific Name: Acer campestre Distribution: Europe Tree Size: 50-65 ft (15-20 m) tall, 1-2 ft (.3-.6 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 43 lbs/ft3 (690 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .53, .69 Janka Hardness: 1,150 lbf (5,110 N)* *Estimated hardness based on specific gravity Modulus of Rupture: 17,830 lbf/in2 (123.0 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,711,000 lbf/in2...

Red Maple

Red Maple (Acer rubrum) Common Name(s): Red Maple Scientific Name: Acer rubrum Distribution: Eastern North America Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 38lbs/ft3 (610 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .49, .61 Janka Hardness: 950 lbf (4,230 N) Modulus of Rupture: 13,400 lbf/in2 (92.4 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,640,000 lbf/in2 (11.31 GPa) Crushing Strength: 6,540 lbf/in2 (45.1 MPa)...

Norway Maple

Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) Common Name(s): Norway Maple Scientific Name: Acer platanoides Distribution: Europe and western Asia; also planted in North America Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1.0-1.5 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 40 lbs/ft3 (645 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .50, .65 Janka Hardness: 1,010 lbf (4,510 N)* *Estimated hardness based on specific gravity Modulus of Rupture: 16,680 lbf/in2 (115.0...

Sycamore Maple

Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) Common Name(s): Sycamore Maple, European Sycamore Scientific Name: Acer pseudoplatanus Distribution: Europe and southwestern Asia Tree Size: 80-115 ft (25-35 m) tall, 3-4 ft (1.0-1.2 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 38 lbs/ft3 (615 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .48, .62 Janka Hardness: 1,050 lbf (4,680 N) Modulus of Rupture: 14,220 lbf/in2 (98.1 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,438,000 lbf/in2...

Curly Maple

Curly Maple (Acer spp.) Curly Maple (sealed) Curly Maple, Black Walnut, Cocobolo Curly Maple is not actually a species, but simply a description of a figure in the grain—it occurs most often in soft maples, but is also seen in hard maples. It is so called because the ripples in the grain pattern create a three dimensional effect that appears as if the grain has “curled” along the length of the board. Other names for this phenomenon...

Quilted Maple

Quitled Maple is not actually a species, but simply a description of a figure in the grain. Quilted maple occurs most often in soft maples, but is also seen in hard maples. (The highest grade quilted maple is most commonly seen in Bigleaf Maple.) Quilted maple is so named for its resemblance to patchwork patterns seen on fabric quilts. Much like birdseye maple, the figure on quilted maple becomes most pronounced when the board has been...

Soft Maple

The term “Soft Maple” does not refer to any specific species of maple, but rather, it’s a broad term which includes several different species of maple. The term “Soft Maple” is merely used to differentiate these species from Hard Maple. Hard Maple, on the other hand, typically refers to one specific type of maple species: Acer saccharum. Hard Maple is also known as Rock Maple or Sugar Maple, (this is the same tree...

Birdseye Maple

Birdseye Maple is not technically a distinct species of Maple, but rather, it’s a figure that’s occasionally found in Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple) trees. It’s named “birdseye” (sometimes simply written out as: Bird’s Eye Maple) because the figure resembles small bird’s eyes. Birdseye Maple Birdseye Maple (bookmatched veneer) Birdseye Maple (23″ x 8.5″) The figure is reportedly caused by...

Ambrosia Maple

Much like Spalted Maple and other forms of figured maple, Ambrosia Maple is technically not a specific species of Maple, but rather a general description of any type of Maple that has been infested by ambrosia beetles. The beetles bore into the tree, and with it bring fungus that discolors the wood. Ambrosia Maple Ambrosia Maple (turned)   Ambrosia Maple is considered a decorative feature which gives the wood additional character, and is...

Box Elder

Box Elder (Acer negundo) Common Name(s): Box Elder, Boxelder Maple, Manitoba Maple, Ash-leaved Maple Scientific Name: Acer negundo Distribution: North America (most commonly in central and eastern United States) Tree Size:35-80 ft (10-25 m) tall, 1-2 ft (.3-.6 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 30 lbs/ft3 (485 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .42, .49 Janka Hardness: 720 lbf (3,200 N) Modulus of Rupture: 8,010 lbf/in2 (55.2 MPa)*...

Spalted Maple

Much like Ambrosia Maple and other forms of figured maple, Spalted Maple is technically not a specific species of Maple, but rather a general description of any type of Maple that has been allowed to begin initial stages of decay, and then subsequently dried (preventing further decay). Spalted Maple (sanded) Spalted Maple (sealed) The partial decay, called spalting, gives the wood dark contrasting lines and streaks where fungus has begun to...

Queensland Maple

Queensland Maple (Flindersia brayleyana) Common Name(s): Queensland Maple Scientific Name: Flindersia spp. (F. brayleyana) Distribution: Northern Queensland (Australia) Tree Size: 100 ft (30 m) tall, 3 ft (1 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 35 lbs/ft3 (560 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .45, .56 Janka Hardness: 810 lbf (3,620 N) Modulus of Rupture: 11,750 lbf/in2 (81.0 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,570,000 lbf/in2 (10.83 GPa)...

Worldwide Woods, a new poster

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjAfSffIQdA Temporarily unavailable! Please use the email signup list below to be notified as soon as the poster becomes available for sale. Over 500 worldwide woods pictured 24" wide (61 cm) x 36" tall (91 cm) Divided into 8 geographical regions $30 (shipped by Amazon.com) Alder, Red (Alnus rubra) Ash, Black (Fraxinus nigra) Ash, Green (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) Ash, White (Fraxinus americana) Aspen, Bigtooth...

Wood Identification Guide

by Eric Meier When attempting to identify a wood sample, it’s important to keep in mind the limitations and obstacles that are present in our task. Before starting, please have a look at The Truth Behind Wood Identification to approach the task in a proper mindset; I consider the linked article to be required reading for all those visiting my site with the intent of identifying wood. 1. Confirm it is actually solid wood. Before...

Common US Hardwoods

by Eric Meier In the process of identifying wood, things can get a bit overwhelming when faced with the hundreds and hundreds of possible species. Yet in the context of everyday woods that most people in the United States or Canada are likely to encounter, the list of possible woods is usually much shorter. This article is meant to act as sort of a “Cliffs Notes” to help address the most common (and hopefully, obvious) questions of...

Wood Trading

by Eric Meier (IWCS #9701) Are you interested in getting or using new and unusual wood species? Are you a wood collector? If so, maybe we can trade. If you are a member of the International Wood Collectors Society (IWCS), then you probably already know that the standard size for wood samples is 6″ (long) x 3″ (wide) x 1/2″ (thick). What I’ve got for trade Please note that this is not a for-sale list—I’m only...

State Trees of the United States

State State tree Scientific Name Alabama Longleaf Pine Pinus palustris Alaska Sitka Spruce Picea sitchensis Arizona Blue Palo Verde Parkinsonia florida Arkansas Loblolly Pine Pinus taeda California Coast Redwood and Giant Sequoia Sequoia sempervirens and Sequoiadendron giganteum Colorado Blue Spruce Picea pungens Connecticut White Oak Quercus alba District of Columbia Scarlet Oak Quercus coccinea Delaware American Holly Ilex opaca Florida...

About the Project

How “The Wood Database” got started… It all began back in April of 2007; I had recently checked out some wood identification books at the library, and I wanted a way to organize all of the most helpful data into a single reference file on my computer. After cataloging the wood’s common and scientific names, weight, approximate cost, and any other notes or observations that I thought were unusual to that species of wood, I...

Wood Finishes: What Works When

by Eric Meier “What’s the best type of wood finish to use for this wood?” I’m always amused when I get asked this question, as if there is only one single “right” finish to use for a given wood species. The real answer would be, “it depends…” It all depends on what type of look you’re going for, what level of protection you want, how much maintenance you’re willing to do, etc....

Hardwood Anatomy

by Eric Meier © Outline Vessel elements: porosity, arrangement, size, frequency, contents Parenchyma: apotracheal, paratracheal Rays: width, spacing, aggregate, noded, storied Wood fibers Monocots: palm, bamboo In sharp contrast to the simple anatomy of softwoods, the hardwoods of the world exhibit a dazzling array of endgrain patterns and intricate motifs; and it’s in this complexity that the challenge (and joy) of wood identification really...

Wood Allergies and Toxicity

by Eric Meier “Not to omit any one of them, the yew is similar to these other trees in general appearance . . . It is an ascertained fact that travellers’ vessels, made in Gaul of this wood, for the purpose of holding wine, have caused the death of those who used them.” –Pliny the Elder, from Naturalis Historia, ca. 77 AD Looking at the above quotation, (taken from a writing nearly two thousand years old), ought to bring—at...

Sycamore

...Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) Common Name(s): Sycamore, American Plane...

Top Ten Most Overrated Woods

by Eric Meier Brief disclaimer: In writing this article, I am in no way stating that any particular wood is “bad” or of low quality. In this age of phenolic fakes, MDF, OSB, LVL, and other abbreviated products, real, solid wood is to be appreciated. However, my purpose in composing this list is to simply highlight ways in which woodworkers have perhaps overly valued certain wood species. Bois de Rose (Dalbergia maritima) Why people...

London Plane

London Plane (Platanus x acerifolia) Common Name(s): London Plane, European Plane Scientific Name: Platanus x acerifolia Distribution: Western Europe Tree Size: 65-115 ft (20-35 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 35 lbs/ft3 (560 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .46, .56 Janka Hardness: 940 lbf (4,180 N) Modulus of Rupture: 10,830 lbf/in2 (74.7 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,291,000 lbf/in2 (8.90 GPa) Crushing...