Curly v. Tiger Maple

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by jfarms posted 09-10-2009 07:33 PM 14788 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jfarms's profile


12 posts in 3584 days

09-10-2009 07:33 PM

I would like to get everyones opinion on what the difference between these two woods are. There are a lot of different opinions and I’d like to get to the bottom of it. I won’t start with my opinion but will offer it along the way. Thanks!!

14 replies so far

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3596 days

#1 posted 09-10-2009 07:36 PM

just different names for the same thing. also known as flamed maple and fiddleback maple

both soft and hard species of maple can have the curly figure

there is also quilted maple and birdseye maple

View poroskywood's profile


618 posts in 3693 days

#2 posted 09-10-2009 08:05 PM

Well, I can’t let this one go by. Curly happens mostly in Red or Soft Maple.
Curly or Tiger it’s really the same name for the same thing.
There are diffrent degrees of curl however, from a soft roll to sharp contrasting stripes.
When someone asks me for fiddleback maple I assoiate that with quarter-sawn curly maple which would be most desired for fiddle-backs.
Hard or Sugar Maple can also contain curl. It is a lot harder to find Curly Hard Maple and the Curl is generaly tighter in pattern, I have found Curly Hard Maple to be more 3-D in apperance.
I once sold a guy 1000 sq ft of Curly Hard Maple flooring, It was mind blowing, almost hard to look at.

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View jfarms's profile


12 posts in 3584 days

#3 posted 09-10-2009 08:37 PM

I have always said that they are the same thing. Check out what these guys are saying. Can’t say that I’ve ever seem figuring on Maple that goes with the grain.

View LONGHAIR's profile


94 posts in 4143 days

#4 posted 09-11-2009 07:55 PM

I have always considered “tiger” to be a more intense or exaggerated form of curly. “Curly” has several “grades” that deal with the consistancy and depth of the waves.

View bruc101's profile


1336 posts in 3870 days

#5 posted 09-12-2009 05:39 AM

We do many board feet of Curly-Tiger Maple a year. We have one vendor that calls it Curly and another that calls it Tiger and I found out recently that they both get it from the same supplier. I cannot tell any difference, looks just alike, works the same, smells the same, the splinters hurt the same so I’ll tell you what I was told one time by an inspector. Call it what you want it’s the same thing some boards just have more profound curl than the other boards.


-- Bruce Free Plans

View WIwoodworker's profile


65 posts in 4026 days

#6 posted 09-12-2009 05:05 PM

Curly and Tiger Maple are used interchangeably to describe the same thing. Fiddleback maple does have origins in instrument making as the best wood for making that part of the fiddle is quartersawn curly material. I’m not sure though that the term is still necessarily used to describe that wood.

When I’m buying I assume all three terms mean the same thing. When I’m selling I will most often describe it as curly maple with medium or tight heavy curl. On occasion I will describe it as tiger maple but only when I know the client I’m selling to describes it that way. I have never described anything as fiddleback although if I had a very nice batch of quartersawn curly maple I’d be tempted.

-- Allen, Milwaukee, WI

View rhett's profile


743 posts in 3996 days

#7 posted 09-12-2009 07:41 PM

Same, but not really. Think of a wide board with tight grain on both sides and cathedral grain up the middle. The center cut on a log. If it has curly figure, it is less noticable across the center, and more pronounced on the tighter outside grain. Like a tigers back with the stripes on the sides. This is due more from the cut orientation than the figure. Standard milling produces tiger as you get more heartwood and the true curly is in the outer rings. On curly the curl will go uninterrupted from one side to another.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 4051 days

#8 posted 09-13-2009 08:03 AM

Very interesting. I was told that Fiddleback was the old fashion term, originating from the use of the curly wood for fiddlebacks. The quilted figuring is one of my favorites, as it’s so unusual and mesmerizing.

But then I’m easily mesmerized.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Clarkswoodworking's profile


289 posts in 462 days

#9 posted 04-22-2018 03:13 PM

Ok wich is wich?

View Aj2's profile


2127 posts in 2126 days

#10 posted 04-22-2018 03:21 PM

The top is curly maple the bottom quilted maple. The quilted pics looks great even on a 10 year old thread.:)

-- Aj

View Steve's profile


22 posts in 3302 days

#11 posted 01-10-2019 02:44 PM

People use the terms interchangeably. However, I associated “Tiger” as showing the straight figure lines that you see in quartersawn cuts, like the ash below.


View MPython's profile


101 posts in 141 days

#12 posted 01-10-2019 03:52 PM

I agree with Steve, above. I have always associated “tiger” figure with tight, parallel stripes, like tiger stripes. I think tiger maple is a type of curly maple, but distinct from random curl you often see. I consider the styles and rails of the chest in the photograph below to be “tiger” maple. The drawer fronts are also curly, but random curl, not as distinctly tiger striped as the styles and rails.


View CharlesNeil's profile


2476 posts in 4199 days

#13 posted 01-11-2019 01:45 PM

I has often been considered that Tiger maple was hard maple while Curly maple was soft maple

How ever if you ask 10 people you will get 20 conflicting opinions

View Design59's profile


12 posts in 99 days

#14 posted 01-12-2019 10:41 PM

Most people consider them to be the same thing.

-- Table leg and Component Vendor, NC,

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics