Reply by Jonathan

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Posted on hard or soft maple for closet organizer?

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2609 posts in 4509 days

#1 posted 11-23-2011 05:07 PM

I should start by saying I haven’t done this before, so I’ll be learning along with you on this one. Here is how I’m thinking this through:

I’m sure you can get away with using either one. With that being said, hard maple is going to be stronger and should work better for the wider spans. You could probably get away with combining the two, especially if you’re going to dye or stain the wood. The colors and grain patterns will likely be a little different though, so take that into consideration. If you were going to combine them, I’d use the hard maple for the horizontal pieces, especially any long spans, then use the soft maple for the vertical pieces since wood is very strong in this position. If it were me, I think I’d lean towards using hard maple for strength (first consideration), and also consistency. I tend to lean towards over-engineering and over-building things though. The only time I’ve combined the two species was for a cutting board or two, nothing like this where weight needs to be considered.

Soft maple is a little “softer” than walnut, but not by much when you look at the Janka hardness scale. It’s likely to show dings a bit easier than hard maple. Things like belt buckles, etc. landing on it hard will show up easier on the soft maple than the hard maple.

The growth rings should be closer together on the hard maple since it grows slower. This also leads to more density, so it will be heavier than the soft maple, and also stronger.

Are you thinking about using the soft maple to save a little money? If you go all soft maple, you might want to use a slightly thicker board for the horizontal pieces (such as 5/4-stock, instead of 4/4-stock). This could just be me over-engineering things again though.

I’d say it will really depend on the spans involved, versus thickness of stock, versus the amount of weight that the span needs to support. When it comes down to it, soft maple could certainly work for all of it, especially if you don’t have any wide spans.

I’m sure you’ll get quite a few different responses to your question, and I’ll be curious to see what everybody else thinks.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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