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Curly Hard Or Soft Maple


Jimboh
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I got some curly Maple, only flaw is im not sure if its hard or soft, i think i read somewhere that both hard and soft maple can be curly/flamed. Im using it for a bookmatched top that im gonna stain, and as far as i know hard maple dosent like to be stained. so is there any key ways i can figure out if its hard or soft? or will i have to determine from cutting it?

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I got some curly Maple, only flaw is im not sure if its hard or soft, i think i read somewhere that both hard and soft maple can be curly/flamed. Im using it for a bookmatched top that im gonna stain, and as far as i know hard maple dosent like to be stained. so is there any key ways i can figure out if its hard or soft? or will i have to determine from cutting it?

Hard or soft they can all be curly as well as most hardwoods. If it's amber in color, most likely it's big leaf maple which is soft and is found in the west. Now if it's white? Now comes the next hard part? How white is white? How does it sand? If it scallops more between the flame, using sandpaper and your fingers not a block ( somewhat similar to pine does between grain lines but not as deep) it is more than likely soft white maple. If it sands consistently across the figure and is white in color it is most likely Eastern Hard maple. Now this is not a hard fast set of rules, but in general that's what you will find most times. As far as dying, all maple tends to blotch, some more than others, So I would suggest a light seal coat of dewaxed shellac to minimize the problem. 1/8 to 1/4 pound cut will work fine.

Just my .02cents worth

MK

Edited by MiKro
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Thank you for the post everybody. The maple is mostly whitish but in a couple areas its got some aber coloured spots on it. So i guess its leaning towards the soft a little just because its not that white and its got a few amber coloured spots. But i guess i can decide when i sand it. Thank you all

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Thank you for the post everybody. The maple is mostly whitish but in a couple areas its got some aber coloured spots on it. So i guess its leaning towards the soft a little just because its not that white and its got a few amber coloured spots. But i guess i can decide when i sand it. Thank you all

Color is NOT a good indicator. I have BRIGHT white soft maple, and I have tan soft maple. Look at Birdsey Maple(which is hard maple) it ranges in color from white to tan, with a dark heart. Hardness and weight are solid indicators, as hard Maple is significantly heavier and harder.

Peace,Rich

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Color is NOT a good indicator. I have BRIGHT white soft maple, and I have tan soft maple. Look at Birdsey Maple(which is hard maple) it ranges in color from white to tan, with a dark heart. Hardness and weight are solid indicators, as hard Maple is significantly heavier and harder.

Yup. I also have some soft that is bone white and is noticeably lighter than my other maples. EXCELLENT tap tone. I have some slammin' curly hard maple, which is dense and heavy and not the greatest tap tone. In my experience, hard maple tends to have tighter and straighter curl than other maples.

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Color is NOT a good indicator. I have BRIGHT white soft maple, and I have tan soft maple. Look at Birdsey Maple(which is hard maple) it ranges in color from white to tan, with a dark heart. Hardness and weight are solid indicators, as hard Maple is significantly heavier and harder.

Yup. I also have some soft that is bone white and is noticeably lighter than my other maples. EXCELLENT tap tone. I have some slammin' curly hard maple, which is dense and heavy and not the greatest tap tone. In my experience, hard maple tends to have tighter and straighter curl than other maples.

Regarding hard vs soft figure. I have found no consistent difference in the strength or size of the curls. Some soft Maple has tight hard fiddleback, some hard maple has broad rolling subtle curl, and vice versa. The curls will appear strongest when the wood is cut close to quarter, and parallel to the face grain(Note the face grain is not straight as it is rising and falling with the curl, so by parallel I mean it is parallel to the average rise and fall of the face grain.). The farther away from this you get the less consistant the curl will be.

One notable difference between hard and soft is the intensity and size of the medullary rays. (Quick definition, pulled off the web-"MEDULLARY RAYS - Strips of cells extending radially within a tree and varying in height from a few cells in some species to four or more inches in oak. The rays serve primarily to store food and transport it horizontally in the tree. On quartersawn oak, the rays form a conspicuous figure, sometimes referred to as Flecks"). Hard maples seem to have larger and more intense rays. These rays are most visable when the wood is split with the direction of the face grain (not the grain lines we see), and if the wood is cut parallel to the face grain the rays look very impressive. This is something that is looked for in spruce soundboards, as it is an indicator of how much runnout there is in the face grain. It looks wicked cool on a hard maple neck when these rays are very visable.

Peace,Rich

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Well i dont have 2 peices of maple that i know for a fact are different kind to compare weight, so i geuss ill just have to go with it and see what happens. Thanks for the replys.

Measure the volume of wood, weigh it, and compair it to average weights for these species. You can't count on it being dead accurate, but there is such a large difference between the two woods you should be able to identify if its is Sugar(hard, rock) or Western(Bigleaf).

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