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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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...
satisfied customer, no other affiliation, etc....
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.
"patriarch email@example.comDOTnet>" <<patriarch> wrote in message
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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,
clear has to do with the number of defects- it's a grade rather than a
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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