Common Name(s): Quilted maple, blistered maple
Botanical Designation: Not a distinct species of maple; considered a growth/grain anomaly. Occurs most often in soft maples, but is also seen much less often in hard maple. The highest grades of quilted figure occur primarily in bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum).
Distribution: Primarily temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere
Average Dried Weight: 30.2 to 38.0 lbs/ft3 (485 to 610 kg/m3) depending on species
Janka Hardness: 700 to 950 lbf (4,230 N) depending on species
Comments: 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 flatsawn, (which is the opposite of curly maple, which is accentuated through quartersawing). Alternate names and sub-categories for this type of figuring include blistered, curly-quilt, sausage-quilt, tubular-quilt, and angel-step.
There are varying grades of quilted maple, based upon the perceived depth of the quilt, as well as the purity of color of the wood itself (with a pure and uniform white being the most valuable). Quilted maple billets are often sold for extremely high prices for use as tops of electric guitars. They are frequently dyed in outlandish colors such as blue, green, or purple to give an “electric” effect to the grain pattern.
Porosity: diffuse porous
Arrangement: solitary and radial multiples
Vessels: small to medium; moderately numerous to numerous; heartwood deposits sometimes present
Parenchyma: banded (marginal)
Rays: narrow to medium, normal spacing
Lookalikes/Substitutes: Bigleaf maple is more or less indistinguishable from other soft maples such as red maple (Acer rubrum), however, it can usually be separated from hard maple (A. saccharum) not only on the basis of weight, but also ray width. Bigleaf maple tends to have more uniform medium-width rays, while hard maple has a greater range of wide and narrow rays.