Common Name(s): Birdseye maple, bird’s eye maple
Botanical Designation: Not a distinct species of maple; considered a growth/grain anomaly. Although rare exceptions exist, birdseye maple is almost exclusively harvested from hard maple (Acer saccharum).
Distribution: Northeastern North America
Average Dried Weight: 44.0 lbs/ft3 (705 kg/m3)
Janka Hardness: 1,450 lbf (6,450 N)
Comments: Called birdseye maple (sometimes written out as bird’s eye) because the tiny knots in the grain resemble small bird’s eyes. The figure is reportedly caused by unfavorable growing conditions for the tree. The tree attempts to start numerous new buds to get more sunlight, but with poor growing conditions the new shoots are aborted, and afterward a number of tiny knots remain.
Birdseye maple is frequently sold in veneer form, but solid lumber is available as well. Being tiny knots, the birdseye figure is most noticeable and pronounced on flatsawn pieces of lumber. For more information on strength and working characteristics, see the full article on hard maple (Acer saccharum).
Images: Drag the slider up/down to toggle between raw and finished wood. The video linked below shows birdseye figure in maple as well as a handful of other woods to illustrate that birdseye is not always a growth form that belongs exclusively to maple. A special thanks to Ben Vaterlaus for providing the picture of the turned pen.