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very little. as far as accual hardness goes there very close. hard is alittle harder and polishes to a slightly higher sheen. soft is alittle easier on blades. hard maple produces birds eye soft produces curly figure. generally soft has a more interesting grain patern where hard is more uniform. either will work for furniture about the same.
 

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A quick check of some online resources indicate the major differences in terms of furniture making are:
- Hard maple is denser than soft, and therefore somewhat stronger, but not to a great degree
- Soft maple has more color variation, even within a single board, and so is usually used for paint grade work or darker stained finishes.
In regards to specifics around rockers, I don't know if there are differences in terms of bending, etc.
 

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Color will be the biggest difference from my experience. Usually hard maple is lighter and more uniform in color and soft maple will have more mineral streaks etc. I use both all the time and really don't see a big difference in strength or hardness. I'm sure there is, but not that big of a deal.
 

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The Janka hardness index is about 700 for soft maple and about 1400 for hard maple. That does not translate directly into strength. It really only indicates how much pressure is required to push a bee-bee into the wood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am looking to use soft maple to make anoth Maloof rocker, using soft male because it available to me for next to nothing. I will be finishing it with poly and oil so there will be no dark stains or paint involved. Thoughts on a final look with a natural finish?
 

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My opinion FWIW - - A Maloof rocker is a lot of work. I've heard 100 hours but, since I have not made one myself (yet), I really don't know other than to say it is a lot of work.

Why put that much work in and not get a true first class result? I think using soft maple would compromise the quality of the final product. Someone could make indentations into the wood with their fingernails.

Just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
richgreer
never thought about the possibility of the dent in the wood.

as far as the work involved, I am finishing my first maloof right now and 3 rocker all together. They are alot of work but don't be intimidated by them they are more a learning experience than anything and VERY worth the time and effort.
 

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I don't mean to hijack your thread… But I had a similiar question. I wanted to use maple to build my kitchen cabinets, as I wanted a very light colored wood. What would you folks recommend - hard or soft maple for kitchen cabinets?

Thanks!
 

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Hard Maple is the industry standard for Maple cabinetry ie., Woodmode. Thats a white, clean and modern look. Soft would be less expensive… Rich has a great point about dents….. I'm sure Soft Maple would be fine and would probably create more of a rustic feel over time.
 

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If the wood is cheap or free, I wouldn't be too concerned about using soft over hard maple. You will find that the soft is easier to work with. And, considering that it's your first rocker, you'll be able to live with a few small mistakes easier than if you were using expensive, highly figured hard maple. Maloof's classic finish (BLO, poly, wax) will provide a penetrative finish that will help to deal with the small dings that you'll get from things like the rivets on your Carrharts.

(And considering that I've seen folks using alder for kitchen cabinets, I wouldn't be too concerned about using soft maple there either. IMHO, alder is too soft though.)
 

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Soft maple is paintgrade wood IMO. For cabinetry and furniture I prefer hard maple. It is best for clearcoats and stains.

Soft maple gets very blotchy when finished and I have found it to be very inconsistent from board to board as far as hardness. It also has a tendency to get stringy when you do edge work.
 

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Hard Maple aka rock maple is sugar maple. All of the various maples are lumped under soft maple. Lots of variations from type tp type and location where each is grown. Note that Sam Maloof pre fered walnut for his chairs which is not near as hard as 'hard maple'
 

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I think either would do for your construction, the only thing is not to mix the species (make it out one or the other). I made a chest once and never noticed the two different species until I put stain on it, and the constrasting wood looked out of place compared with the rest of the project.
 
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