after reading a million magazines and taking a few courses I thought
I'd try to build something besides a bird feeder.
So I'm in the process of building a side night table.
I went to a local saw mill and picked up some soft maple. The moisture
content was about 12%.
The first thing I did was ruff cut the boards into the lengths I
They were too wide to go through my jointer so I used a sled and my
planner. The first thing I noticed was the tear out.
I used new knives, fed the boards into the planner with the grain and
did very light cuts. I would still get tear out.
The boards are stacked right now while I wait for them to dry out a
So my questions are:
1: Does tear out occur a lot with soft maple?
2: Was soft maple a poor choice for a night table?
3: Any suggestion to prevent tear out when I get to final planning?
| I used new knives, fed the boards into the planner with the grain
| and did very light cuts. I would still get tear out.
I'd question the sharpness of the new knives.
DeSoto, Iowa USA
Not necessarily. It can be absolutely beautiful, when done.
You might want to consider using handplanes or a sander, rather than taking
the planer as your finish pass. A really sharp plane, with a tightly
closed mouth, should be able to get your work acceptibly flat, and tearout
Or a scraper, in one of its forms, will do the trick.
I've built a lot of stuff from soft maple, including kitchen and bath
cabinets, bedroom furniture, and a few clock cases. It works well, when
care is taken.
Straight grain doesn't tear much, curly figure can be a bear since you can't
pick a constant downhill (down grain) direction. Best I've found is to feed
with particular attention to downhill, sometimes reversing from side to
side, and then slicking the whole with a scraper or plane.
Hard maple is a worse offender in the chipout department because the rays
are a built-in fault line. On the quarter figure, you can get a lot of
peck-out. Perhaps you have hard maple, which is much more common out east?
Soft maple isn't consistent enough in color to be used much in furniture
when there's an alternative available. Flooring and pallets, interior of
upholstered furniture are the main uses for soft around here.
There are a bunch of 'soft maples', at least a dozen, sold commercially.
In the Pacific Northwest, Big Leaf maple is one of them, and is a beautiful
We regularly get at least three noticable varieties in the racks at my
Oakland, CA wood merchant, as 'soft maple'.
Buy a new clean spray bottle and put clean water in it so you won't stain
the wood. As the maple is fed into the planer, mist the surface of the
board. This normally will eliminate the tiny tear out on soft maple .
I use water based (aniline) stain on soft maple with good luck. You should
raise the knap on the wood with the spray bottle and scrape the surface to
smooth it before you stain the wood. Some follow up with a wash coat of
shellac and a wipe on stain after the aniline stain.
Use a sponge and some mineral free water. Lightly dampen the wood with the
sponge a minute or two before planing. Dampen for each pass taking light
cuts until you're down to your final size. I've used this method plenty of
times and it works 99% of the time but you must take light cuts. I also use
a drum sander to slowly plane down stock subject to tearout and that takes
many passes but does a nice job.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.