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Hard Maple

Acer saccharum, Acer nigrum - Other Names: Sugar Maple, Black Maple
 
 

Stain Selector

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Light

Medium

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The hard maple is the state tree of Wisconsin, Vermont, New York and West Virginia. In the North, during the cold nights and warm days of late winter, the sugar maple is tapped for its sucrose-containing sap, the source of maple syrup. It may take up to 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Early American settlers used maple ashes to make soap and Native Americans crafted their spears from hard maple. Until the turn of the century, the heels of women's shoes were made from maple. Maple has been a favorite of American furniture makers since early Colonial days. Hard maple is the standard wood for cutting boards because it imparts no taste to food and holds up well.

Where It Grows

Eastern U.S., principally Mid-Atlantic and Lake states. A cold weather tree favoring a more northerly climate, its average height is 130 feet.

Main uses

Flooring, furniture, paneling, ballroom and gymnasium floors, kitchen cabinets, worktops, table tops, butchers blocks, toys, kitchenware and millwork: stairs, handrails, mouldings, and doors.

Relative Abundance

4 percent of U.S. hardwoods commercially available.

Did You Know?

A single sugar maple tree produces up to 12 gallons of sap a year.

General Description

The sapwood is creamy white with a slight reddish brown tinge and the heartwood varies from light to dark reddish brown. The amount of darker brown heartwood can vary significantly according to growing region. Both sapwood and heartwood can contain pith fleck. The wood has a close fine, uniform texture and is generally straight-grained, but it can also occur as "curly," "fiddleback," and "birds-eye" figure.

Working Properties

Hard maple dries slowly with high shrinkage, so it can be susceptible to movement in performance. Pre-boring is recommended when nailing and screwing. With care it machines well, turns well, glues satisfactorily, and can be stained to an outstanding finish. Polishes well and is suitable for enamel finishes and brown tones.

Physical Properties

The wood is hard and heavy with good strength properties, in particular its high resistance to abrasion and wear. It also has good steam-bending properties.

Availability

Widely available. The higher quality grades of lumber are available selected for white color (sapwood) although this can limit availability. Figured maple (birds-eye, curly, fiddleback) is generally only available in commercial volumes as veneer.

Working Properties


Machining

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Nailing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Screwing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Gluing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Finishing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good
 

Strength and Mechanical Properties (inch-pound)a


 

Static Bending

Moisture Content

Specific Gravity (b)

Modulus of Rupture
(lbf/in2)

Modulus of Elasticity (c)
(106 lbf/in2)

Work to Maximum Load
(in-lbf/in3)

Green-12% 0.52-0.63 7,900-15,800 1.33-1.83 12.5-16.5

Impact Bending
to Grain
(in)

Compression
Parallel to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Compression
Perpendicular to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Shear
Parallel to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Tension
Perpendicular to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Side Hardness
(lbf)

39-48 3,270-7,830 600-1,470 1,130-2,330 — -720 840-1,450

a) Results of tests on small clear specimens in the green and air-dried conditions. Definition of properties; impact bending is height of drop that causes complete failure, using 0.71-kg (50 lb.) hammer; compression parallel to grain is also called maximum crushing strength; compression perpendicular to grain is fiber stress at proportional limit; shear is maximum shearing strength; tension is maximum tensile strength; and side hardness is hardness measured when load is perpendicular to grain.

b) Specific gravity is based on weight when ovendry and volume when green or at 12% moisture content

c) Modulus of elasticity measured from a simply supported, center-loaded beam, on a span depth ratio of 14/1. To correct for shear reflection, the modulus can be increased by 10%.