I have turnde a fair amount of Sillver Maple. It does seem to have a
bit more luster when sanded to a fine grit, than most other woods. The
color tends to be rather bland white, but it can spalt and mold rather
spectacularly. It isn't too dense, so would make a better secondary
wood. Here in western Oregon, a 30 year old Silver Maple will be 30 +
inches in diameter. They grow very fast, then start to fall apart, due
to rot in the centers. It can have some nice figure too.
Soft maple is a nice wood if you cut away the green and grey streaks.
There isn't much grain, but a high percentage of it has some nice
figure. I assume because of the very uneven quality, it is a very
inexpensive wood. Your tree doesn't have much value unless there is a
lot of figured wood in it, but that is a possibility. I loved working
with it and I wish I had more access to it, but most hardwood dealers
don't carry it because most people will pay the premium for hard maple
that isn't cursed with the grey and green streaks.
Remember the Chevy truck commercial? "That's character. Women _love_
The fact of the matter is that soft maple is often in the less premium
section, but can be used in place of hard maple where the hardness isn't an
issue, and the color is close. I use it all of the time for cases, frames,
drawer sides & the like. I also use it, a lot, for my own furniture,
because there is often great figure available at $3.15/bf. It blends well
with cherry, particularly under shellac.
And for paint grade, it's more stable than birch, and harder than poplar,
with a price premium (here) of less than $1/bf.
We're blessed with all kinds of wonderful wood species. They all have
their roles and reasons.
I agree it is an underrated wood. Around 50% of the last batch I got
had really noticeable figure once it was planed nicely. That was a heck
of a bargain since it was one of the cheapest woods in the store. To my
tastes, the working qualities were excellent too. Some references list
it as moderately difficult to work, but I don't know why. The streaks
aren't bad if they are compatible with the style of the project--OK if
you are going for a rustic, close to the wood look, but I felt compelled
to cut them out for a more elegant coffee table I was making for my mom
at the time. I found enough figured wood to make the maple part of the
top all figured. It wasn't a heavy quilted figure, but it was enough to
be really eye catching under Rock Hard varnish. I'm pretty well
disgusted with poplar and won't be buying much more of that. Soft maple
is superior in every way. Now I just have to go through all the
hardwood dealers to see if anyone sells it around here, which is
actually kind of funny since the tree is literally like a weed around
The neighbor has got a silver maple that overhangs my yard, and I'm
about ready to sneak over and cut that sucker down myself. Everytime
I mow the grass, I have to clean up downed branches from the thing.
I'm worried that the sucker is going to fall on my roof one of these
days when there's a strong wind- they get really big, and aren't very
strong. I like working with maple, and I'd save the wood if I *were*
cutting it down (but as noted above, it's the neighbor's- so I can't).
OTHO, the two in my yard are rock maple, and I wouldn't cut them down
for anything- they're strong, heathy, provide good shade, and look
nice. Ultimately it's up to you- but if the wife wants it gone, it's a
good excuse to get yourself a chainsaw and a bunch of free wood- and
you can always replant the spot with something of your own choice (I
don't know about Milwaukee, but up here (near Rice Lake) maples are
like weeds, and the one you've got was probably an accident in the
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