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9 Types of Maple Wood for DIY Projects (with Pictures)

different kinds of maple wood

Maple is a fantastic hardwood species used for tons of woodworking projects and items and is commonly used for flooring, furniture, and DIY projects. There are different species of maple and each one is unique. One thing they all have in common is their workability—most maple types are easy to work with and have a beautiful appearance.

In this article, we’ll look at 9 types of maple wood for DIY projects. Continue reading to learn more about the various maple types, what they are suitable for, and how they look.

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The 9 Types of Maple Wood

Hard Maple

1. Sugar Maple

Color Reddish-brown
Janka Hardness Scale 1450

Sugar Maple, also known as Hard Maple, is the strongest maple wood according to the Janka Hardness Scale. In various places around the world, it’s regarded as the only hard maple type that most people commonly approve of.  It is very dense and so can be difficult to work with, but it’s very durable and has an aesthetic appeal that people love.

It’s darker in color than other maples, usually pale brown or beige, and you can use this maple for DIY furniture, cabinetry, musical instruments, or toys. It’s water, shock, and decay-resistant, making it perfect for indoor and outdoor use.

Pros
  • Durable
  • Dense
  • Aesthetically appealing
  • Water, shock, and decay-resistant
Cons
  • Can be difficult to work with

2. Black Maple

Color Deep dark brown/ almost black
Janka Hardness Scale 1180

Black Maple is another maple species in the hard maple category, however, some consider it hard while others don’t. Still, it has a Janka Hardness Scale higher than soft maples. It has good workability for both hand and machine tools and even DIY beginners can use this maple for their projects.  You can use it to create furniture, workbenches, musical instruments, or interesting wooden sculptures. It has a deep dark brown, almost black color that stands out from other maple species.

Pros
  • Good workability
  • Beautiful autumn foliage
  • Interesting color
Cons
  • Can be pricey

Soft Maples

3. Red Maple

Color Reddish-brown/white or golden
Janka Hardness Scale 950

Red Maple is interesting to work with due to its stunning color and grains that can occasionally be wavy. Red Maple is usually affordable, but varieties with wavy grains are more expensive than straight-grained varieties.  It’s pretty easy to work with, but you need to be careful when using machinery as it can burn if you use high-speed cutters. It’s perfect for smaller DIY projects like making boxes, crates, pallets, musical instruments, or other wooden knick-knacks. It is not decay resistant, so make sure you use proper stains and finishes after the building part of the project is done.

Pros
  • Easy to work with
  • Affordable
  • Stunning color
Cons
  • Can burn when using high-speed cutters
  • Wavy grained varieties can be expensive
  • Not decay-resistant

4. Silver Maple

Color White/light-beige/reddish brown
Janka Hardness Scale 700

Silver Maple is known for its light-beige/white color that can sometimes even become reddish-brown. It’s another soft maple species that’s easy to work with, making it great for all DIYers, especially beginners. This is another maple type that can burn while in contact with high-speed machinery, so be careful!

Silver Maple is commonly straight-grained but can be wavy as well. You can use it for DIY crates, boxes, furniture, or other interesting wooden items. Ensure you are wearing protective gear while working on this Maple species, as it can cause skin irritation.

Pros
  • Easy to work with
  • Great for DIY beginners
Cons
  • Can burn when using high-speed machinery
  • Can cause skin irritation while being worked

5. Striped Maple

Color Light brown/reddish-brown
Janka Hardness Scale 770

Striped Maple is affordable and can be used for various DIY projects and carving. It’s easy to process and work with, both with machine and hand tools. Striped Maple is another species that’s commonly straight-grained but can be wavy and finishes nicely, although blotches may appear while staining and you might need toners to even out the color after staining. It’s suitable for carvings, furniture, accessories, boxes, or other small wood projects.

Pros
  • Easy to process
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Blotches may appear while staining
  • You might need toners to even out the color

6. Bigleaf Maple

Color Off-white/light brown with golden or reddish hues
Janka Hardness Scale 850

Bigleaf Maple is also commonly used for woodworking and DIY projects. It’s easy to work with, and it glues, finishes and stains well. It can be straight-grained, burled, or wavy and used for carving, DIY furniture, boxes, cabinetry, architectural millwork, musical instruments, or wooden household items.

It’s pretty durable and robust, but of course, cannot be compared with hard maple varieties. Bigleaf Maple is an affordable option for anyone who loves DIY, and DIYers with any skill level can use it.

Pros
  • Easy to work with
  • Glues, stains, and finishes well
  • Durable
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Cannot be compared with hard maple varieties

7. Box Elder

Color Pale white/beige with yellow-greenish hues
Janka Hardness Scale 720

Box Elder is praised for its color and workability. It’s a soft maple variety that is straight-grained and has a fine texture. People use it for carving and DIY projects such as ornamental objects, turned objects, crates, or boxes. It’s best to use anything made from Box Elder inside because it has an unpleasant smell when wet and is prone to insect attacks and decay. It’s an affordable species, so beginners can use it until they decide to tackle more complex projects.

Pros
  • Good workability
  • Interesting color
  • Great for beginners
Cons
  • Prone to insect attacks and decay
  • Has an unpleasant smell when wet

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What can I make with maple wood?

There are many ways you can use maple wood to create interesting items. People use hard maple varieties for flooring, furniture, cabinetry, veneers, and much more. Softer varieties of maple can be used to make boxes, crates, household objects, sports gear, and other small knick-knacks. People go for maple wood because it’s easy to work with and looks beautiful, so if you have a new DIY project soon, try using some maple varieties.

Is maple a cheap wood?

Maple wood is usually moderately-priced and affordable, depending on the variety. It’s usually cheaper than other hardwood species like Oak or Cherry. Hard maples are more expensive than softer varieties. Wavy or curled maple will be more expensive than straight-grained, but generally costs anywhere from $6 to $14 per foot.

What’s the difference between hard and soft maple?

The biggest difference between hard and soft maple is the hardness and density of the wood. Hard maple species are denser and have a higher rating on the Janka Hardness Scale. Also, hard maple varieties are usually lighter in color than soft maple. Soft maple varieties are lightweight and grow faster than hard maple, and harder varieties usually have tighter grains.

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Conclusion

There are many excellent maple varieties on the market that you can use for a bunch of different DIY projects. It’s pretty, easy to work with, and usually very durable. Also, most maple types are affordable, so you can do multiple projects at once or just test out each variety to see which one works best for you.


Featured Image Credit: optimarc, Shutterstock

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