Red maple (Acer rubrum)

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)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.0%, Tangential: 8.2%,

                  Volumetric: 12.6%, T/R Ratio: 2.1

Color/Appearance: Unlike most other hardwoods, the sapwood of maple lumber is most commonly used rather than its heartwood. Sapwood color ranges from almost white, to a light golden or reddish brown, while the heartwood is a darker reddish brown. Red maple can also be seen with curly or quilted grain patterns.

Grain/Texture: Grain is generally straight, but may be wavy. Has a fine, even texture. The growth rings tend to be lighter and less distinct in soft maples than in hard maple.

Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable to perishable in regard to decay resistance.

Workability: Fairly easy to work with both hand and machine tools, though maple has a tendency to burn when being machined with high-speed cutters such as in a router. Turns, glues, and finishes well, though blotches can occur when staining, and a pre-conditioner, gel stain, or toner may be necessary to get an even color.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Red maple, along with other maples in the Acer genus, have been reported to cause skin irritation, runny nose, and asthma-like respiratory effects. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Should be very moderately priced, though figured pieces such as curly or quilted grain patterns are likely to be much more expensive.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Veneer, paper (pulpwood), boxes, crates/pallets, musical instruments, turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.

Comments: Red maple is appropriately named, as its flowers, twigs, seeds, and autumn leaves (shown below) are all red. Red maple is common over a very large area of the eastern Untied States, and its wood tends to be slightly heavier, stronger, and harder than other species in the grouping of soft maples, though it is still not as strong as hard maple. For more information, please see the article on the Differences Between Hard Maple and Soft Maple.

Images: Drag the slider up/down to toggle between raw and finished wood.

Red maple (Acer rubrum)

Red maple (leaf)

Red maple (leaf)

Red maple (foliage illustration)

Red maple (foliage illustration)

Identification: See the article on Hardwood Anatomy for definitions of endgrain features.

Red maple (endgrain 10x)

Red maple (endgrain 10x)

Red maple (endgrain 1x)

Red maple (endgrain 1x)

Porosity: diffuse porous

Arrangement: solitary and radial multiples

Vessels: small to medium; moderately numerous to numerous

Parenchyma: banded (marginal)

Rays: narrow to medium, normal spacing

Lookalikes/Substitutes: Red maple is more or less indistinguishable from other soft maples such as striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum), however, it can usually be separated from hard maple (A. saccharum) according to techniques in this article.

Notes: None.

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