Maple with a Few Variations

Posted by | 2 comments

I thought that it might be interesting to look at a very common north American wood, Maple. Now there are actually quite a few different species that grow in North America but for most purposes they are broken down to Hard Maple and Soft Maple


Hard Maple, includes sugar maple and black maple. It is a hard,dense, tough wood. The weight ranges from 40 to 45 pounds per cubic foot. The working properties are generally good. Being denser it tends to hold up to high wear areas better, you can damage it but not that easily. It is generally considered a very good cabinet wood. This wood tends to lean towards the lighter tones to almost white.

Quarter sliced eastern hard maple

Quarter sliced hard maple with some fiddleback figure



Soft Maple includes, big leaf maple, silver maple and red maple. The a weight ranges from 34 to 38 pounds per cubic foot. Overall its working properties are medium to good. From what I have seen the best highly figured maple veneers come from the bigleaf, especially the quilted ones. Western maple tends to lean more to the light warm brown tones. You can see a good example of bigleaf maple in the post A Table For the Salish Sea.

plain sliced western maple

Plain Sliced Bigleaf Maple


Both of these are available in large quantities, veneers and solids. In solids you will get some figure, but mostly what most people would call “normal wood”. The veneers that are available cover a wide range and can be fun to pick through, at least for me. To the right is a picture with four distinctly different figured veneers. I have used each one on different projects. The burl looks wonderful in passage door panels . I’ve used the curly and fiddleback on counters and table tops. You do need to be carful not to overwhelm the interior with too much or too many figured ” wild looking” woods. Overall I like maple and prefer to leave the color natural, no stain. If you want to adjust the color a bit I recommend a clear sealer coat and then tinted top coats for color.


Some Exotic Maple Samples

Some Exotic Maple Samples

If you want to do some research on woods there are a couple of good reference site here and here. If you are getting ready to build a yacht and want to have a better understanding of this process this is a good place to start. Be aware you or your designer may propose a particular wood and the yard might point you in a different direction. They might have good reason for this or they might just have a bias, with no basis, against a particular wood, or more likely a preference for something else. With the sites above you can at least get an idea as to what reality is. If you are building or refitting a yacht, you are likely spending a lot of money, time and effort and within reason, you should get what you like.






  1. The hard maple includes sugar maple and black maple. It is interesting name. Looking at the hard maple reference picture, it doesn’t look like dark colour. Why?

    • Hi Raymond,
      The names of many species or subspecies of tree often has little to do with what the wood looks like. In this case the name Black Maple, comes from the grey to black tone of the bark on mature trees. That is the best explanation for the name I can find. The lumber is sold generally as hard maple along with Sugar Maple.



  1. 4 Preliminary Steps When Starting a Yacht Interior Design - […] Wood selections      link to it’s just wood […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *