Cabinetmaker question

When making maple cabinets (for kitchen or bathroom, etc.), what type of maple is most common? Hard?, Soft?, ...?
I'm making a built-in cabinet to put above the washer/dryer in our new family room. The carcass & faceframe are assembled, but I ran out of wood for the raised-panel doors. I've been to 3 dealers in the area and all only stock hard maple. I didn't want to use hard maple because of how hard it is on the tools. Plus, I think it's a little over-kill for a wash-room cabinet.
Thanks for your opinions,
Mike
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mike snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net (Michael Dembroge) wrote in

I'd be more concerned with matching the color of your exisiting stock. Most 'soft' maple is still pretty hard wood.
With a pacbell.net address, you may want to consider www.pals4wood.com, in the SF Bay Area. They always have a good selection of various maples, and you can pick through the racks, if you're close...
Patriarch, satisfied customer, no other affiliation, etc....
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Thanks to the link for Pals4wood.com. I'm pretty close. I"ve heard of them, but only heard of them as "Pals", so I couldn't look them up.
Thanks again.
Mike
"patriarch snipped-for-privacy@nospam.comcastDOTnet>" <<patriarch> wrote in message

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Mike,
Difference in cost here in Central New York area is about $1/bf with rough sawn soft maple being the least costly at $2.95bf (6-8% kiln dried). I'm presently making a kitchen table top for my SIL out of 5/4, plain hard maple and find it no harder to work than some soft maple I've worked with in the past. Figured maple is a whole 'nother story though. Not that it's harder on the tools but just harder to work with due to the figure.
Try www.lakeshorehardwoods.com they ship and no minimum orders.
Bob S.

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Michael Dembroge wrote...

Hard maple is much more common.

I wouldn't worry too much about this. Even hard maple is no match for good, sharp tools. If you have a dull saw blade, or especially, a dull shaper set or router set for the coping, sticking and raised panels, burning can become a problem, but even this can be minimized by cutting in several passes and finishing with a very light pass. Other than that, hard maple is a joy to work.
I'd be more concerned about matching the rest of the cabinet work. Soft maple is usually darker and otherwise pretty distinct from hard maple.

It's very durable, though. Still, matching is the most important thing.
Cheers!
Jim
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Thanks Jim, Yes, I very much like the look of the hard maple, and can find lots that is very nice. I made a set of blocks last year from hard maple for my 4-year-old and the stuff was very hard, but I did like it.
When I started this cabinet, I was trying to use what I had on hand as much as possible and had some "Home Depot Maple" left over from years ago, so I used it up on the face frame. I was surprised when I went to a couple dealers and they looked at me like I was strange when I said I wanted soft maple, not hard. This is what prompted me to ask.
Mike

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Soft maple isn't much softer than hard maple. Hard maple is generally more even in color with soft maple having more brown. Also, hard maple has a little less tendency toward tearout and fuzzing (interwoven grain). As far as being hard on tools, it is only slightly harder on tools than most other woods. I often work in woods hard on tooling; such as, mesquite and brazilian cherry. The fact that I am working in woods much more pleasing aesthetically (at least to me) than many others, more than makes up for the little extra I pay in sharpening.
Preston

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Thanks Preston. You have me re-thinking my insistance of using soft maple.
Mike

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Okay... a couple of people made a valid point about color variation between hard and soft maple. True enough as well as having color variations between boards from the same tree. As I said, I'm making a tabletop from hard maple and I noted some color variations also. Hard to tell color when the stock is roughsawn. SIL wants the top to be natural.. and by that she thinks natural means a warm, honey color.
I'm not in the shop at the moment but I went to HD and got a package of wood bleach (surprised they even had it) and used it per the instructions - exactly. All the boards came out the same tone after one application - beautiful. So try to find boards that look well together and close in color/tone but if not, don't sweat it - the bleach and stain will make the world right.
Bob S.

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I think you may be taking the terms hard and soft maple a bit too literally, their relative effects on cutting edges to an extreme, and which to use in what room a bit far.
However, hard maple is the most commonly used but I kind of like the figure of soft better myself.
In any case, your problem is, as already mentioned, matching the color/tint/grain of your already made stuff regardless of whether it is hard or soft.
--
Mike G.
Heirloom Woods
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You may be right in my assessment of different types of maple. I think I'll do some reading/investigating into it.
What's a little confusing is all the types of non-figured maple. For example, the 4/4 maple Home Depot sells is not hard maple, so I've just always assumed it was called "soft" maple. When I buy paint-grade mouldings from the local mill, they use poplar and maple interchangeably, so I figured this was also "soft" maple that they use. Maybe it's "clear" maple? It's not nearly as nice in color and grain as hard maple, but that's why they consider it paint-grade I suppose.
Thanks for your help,
Mike

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On Sun, 13 Jun 2004 01:16:07 GMT, "Mike Dembroge"

clear has to do with the number of defects- it's a grade rather than a type.
soft maple is a lot like birch. the grain, color and hardness are close, and for a lot of applications they are interchangeable. poplar is a little softer.
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