Maple is one of the preferred choices for furniture building because of its strength, durability, and aesthetics. However, while it is a popular alternative for oak and walnut, it can shrink upon the application of finishing materials like varnish. Because of this, it pays to make sure that the maple hardwood can handle different seasons and environments over time.
It’s easy to get confused with the several names associated with this wood. You’ll hear terms like curly maple, red maple, birds-eye maple, and tiger maple to differentiate these types, but there’s a simpler classification for this hardwood. Red maple is also known as soft maple, but its name is confusing because it’s harder than cherry hardwood. Meanwhile, the bird’s eye maple is also known as hard maple and the preferred wood for constructing musical instruments.
Tiger maple is also known as soft maple because it features tiger-like stripes in the wood. It can be called curly maple as well if the accents look wavy. Finally, fiddle back maple got its name because it’s the first option for creating the back panels of fiddles and guitars.
Woodworking with Maple
The beauty of a maple furniture piece comes out even more when matched with corresponding boards. The grain colours and patterns of the adjacent board must match as much as possible, and this is achievable by purchasing thick maple and cutting it on a band saw. They often align the cut sides to match panels with the furniture. This approach works best with tiger-striped maples on cabinets and drawers.
Maple is a hard substance, and that’s why your woodworking tools must be clean and sharp. Using sharp tools will produce cleaner cuts and lessen wood tearing. Likewise, dull tools can cause more harm because you’ll have to try harder in getting perfect cuts.
Like other hardwoods, you must use a pre-stain conditioner to smoothen the patches that tend to appear. Since maple is a bit temperamental to finish, the pre-stain conditioner won’t solve the problem because stains can penetrate the cracks and pores of the wood. Otherwise, the conditioner can wipe away the stain.
If the conditioner doesn’t work, you can sand the wood to even out the stain. Start with a 120 grit before upgrading to 180. Use the 220 grit for the final sanding and 320 grit to fill pores with a finer grit. After that, wipe the wood before applying the conditioner and stain of your choice. Linseed oil is another popular finishing technique for maple because it allows the curly blemishes to pop out. Coat the wood with shellac after the oil and finish the wood with clear lacquer thinner.
Purchase pre-cut timber to avoid woodworking stress
Timber 2 U Direct’s 60-year experience is an assurance that they only deliver quality pre-cut maple and other hardwood species. This leading timber company in the United Kingdom can cut your wooden panels according to your liking and provide some allowance to prevent running out of wood.
If you’re looking for the best hardwood timber provider in the United Kingdom for your next woodworking project, get in touch with Timber 2 U Direct now!