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I understand that Hard and soft maple are very similar, with hard being a little denser. Is soft maple as pretty as hard maple? Can you really notice a difference? I'm talking about just basic maple, not curly or tiger, I'm looking for straight grain.

I'm wondering if I can get away with using soft maple for my nightstand table legs to save a few $/bd.ft. but only if it will look good. I plan on using a clear finish on them, the rest of the table will be cherry with a natural(no dye or stain to age) finish.

Eric
 

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In terms of looks, I think you'll be fine. Soft maple also works easily. The downside is that it is very susceptible to nicks and dents, at least more so than hard maple. The other factor is that there tends to be more color variation, so a lot depends on the look you are going for, and whether you plan to stain it a darker color. I believe it will take a stain better than hard maple.
 

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It will be fine for table legs as far as strenght goes, I use hard maple for chair legs which is standard in most cases and better for strenght.
Look at General finishes and I used a shellac as a sand sealer and then I could use a gel stain to get a light color, I think it was a honey pine or something in that range. turned out great
 

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So in terms of strength soft maple will be fine but more prone to dings? I dont want dings on my legs lol. I found a cheaper source with 8/4 hard maple for $5.30/bd ft so i may just go with that. I only need 10 board feet and thats with extra.

Thanks for the help!

I'll take a look at the finishes pete, I dont know if I want to add any color though.
 

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Soft maple has about the same Janka hardness rating as cherry. It is softer than hard maple, but still quite a bit harder than fir or alder. As far as color, soft maple tends to have a bit of a gray undertone.
 

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Ding wise soft maple is about the same hardness as cherry and walnut which has been used on fine furniture for quite some time.

Its actually tougher than African mahogany which has been used fairly extensivly in furniture work.
 
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