The Lovely Maple

During the course of a tree’s use, it can become many things. No tree is more versatile then the lovely Maple. The majority of maple’s129 species grow in Canada, where it presides on the flag, and northern USA, and this North American native supplies two types of valued lumber, several delicious treats, and endless beauty. The list continues with beautiful fruit, leaves, and landscaping.

Many trees can claim beauty, but none can claim as much versatility as maple. The wood produced from maple is classified into hard and soft, and both have many applications.

Hard Maple

Hard maple comes from the sugar maples. This “rock maple” has a beautifully consistent, fine texture, and the coloring of rock maple ranges from reddish-brown sapwood to a lighter heartwood.

Rock maple is ideal for larger lumber projects because of the straight grain, but highly valued creative projects have been known to result from hard maple’s occasional birdseye, curly, or fiddleback grain patterns. Sometimes this decorative grain comes as a surprise during the sawing process.

Rock maple has a unique durability unseen in other lumber, and as such, many recreational sports turn to maple for equipment. Such uses include gymnasium floors, bowling ally lanes, bowling pins, pool shafts, and baseball bats.

Inside the home, maple often resides in every room. From flooring and cabinetry to butcher blocks and bed frames, hard maple’s uses are endless.

Finally, maple also holds tone very well. Some species of wood, including maple, are known as tonewoods because they effectively carry sound waves for music. Because of maple’s application as a tonewood, pianos and other instruments often incorporate hard maple.

Soft Maple

The other side of maple is soft and less versatile. Found in a very different region, the eastern United States, soft maple comes from silver, red, and big leaf maple trees. They all appear similar to the sugar maple in color and texture, but they are very different in terms of durability. Replacing the heavy strength of hard maple is the soft and malleable soft maple. This lumber is typically found in railroad ties, boxes, crates, pallets, and veneer. Some ornamental and lower-end furniture is also crafted from soft maple.

The various unique qualities of maple have earned it an honored place among tree-huggers and wood-workers alike. High quality lumber comes from companies that value both sorts of people. J. Gibson McIlvain practices sustainable lumber harvesting and offers affordable prices on high quality wood. For over 200 years, McIlvain has been an industry leader. To learn more about McIlvain and the lumber industry, visit them online at, or check out these selections from their lumber blog:


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