12/4" Soft Maple Wood Gloat and NEED for Project Suggestions

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Forum topic by HorizontalMike posted 01-11-2012 05:25 AM 2182 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View HorizontalMike's profile


7898 posts in 3798 days

01-11-2012 05:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: soft maple 12 4 projects wood gloat

My LJs buddy and I BOTH picked up 200BF EACH of some 12/4 Soft Maple today, for the ripe sum of $2/BF. Nice stuff. Steve already has plans for his cache, but I was wondering if you folks could brainstorm with me about some possible projects for me into the future.

Currently I am ~75% complete on a White Ash Barrister’s Bookcase (only my 2nd major WW Project). I want to replicate this bookcase in Maple, but other than that, I will have plenty of Maple for other projects. Any ideas out there? Not looking to build any 8-chaired dining set or the like but wonder about some of the smaller single item type projects…

Oh yeah, I do NOT have a lathe for turning legs or the like :-((

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

19 replies so far

View ETwoodworks's profile


92 posts in 3577 days

#1 posted 01-11-2012 10:22 AM

I might suggest laying it out on your workbench/ floor and cracking open a cold beer (or other beverage of your choice but I like Busch Light). Walk around it, look at it and just wait till an idea comes to you. This is how we come up with my favoite projects in my shop.

-- Building quality in a throw away world.

View rustfever's profile


797 posts in 4194 days

#2 posted 01-11-2012 11:01 AM

As I always reply to those asking what I will make with a pile wood, I say “It has not spoken to me, yet.”

-- Rustfever, Central California

View HorizontalMike's profile


7898 posts in 3798 days

#3 posted 01-11-2012 04:55 PM

I am sure that with much more building experience under the belt the ”Beer Whisperer” method would work out just fine, ;-)

This brings me to an experience I had a dozen or so years ago when building my very first outside wooden deck. A retired friend of mine (who had built several decks) offered to help and pitch in. Having NO experience at this, I would ask for suggestions about the best of several different methods/ways to set and build the deck, supports, layout, best materials, etc.

To make a long story short… the ONLY advise my friend would give, no matter how pointed the question was, was, ”... You can build the deck any way you want to.” I am now forced to live with ALL of my inexperienced errors in judgement every time I walk across that particular deck. As a direct result of that experience I have placed the ”Beer Whisperer” in the corner with a pointy hat when it comes to spontaneously coming up with projects.

So with THAT in mind, I would like to rephrase my question(s):

1. What single item projects work WELL, or VERY WELL with Soft Maple?

2. What single item projects would be POOR choices/uses to build with Soft Maple?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 3842 days

#4 posted 01-11-2012 07:47 PM

Softer maples like “big leaf” or “silver leaf” are beautiful cosmetically, but aren’t so good for impact or cutting board type applications (in my opinion, of course). I recommend small to medium sized boxes for yourself or as gifts, picture frames, smallish decorative turnings, carvings, christmas tree ornaments, things like that. Some people even make jewelry like ear rings and pendants from it. It’s easy and nice to work with, with a nice aroma to complement the work being done. Sounds like a nice score, best of luck with it.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Randy_ATX's profile


881 posts in 3326 days

#5 posted 01-12-2012 04:59 AM

Although I don’t have a direct answer for your project at this time – here is some food for thought I was just reading regarding soft maple considerations (mostly final color and hardness).

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View HorizontalMike's profile


7898 posts in 3798 days

#6 posted 01-12-2012 05:19 AM

Hey Thanks Randy! I picked this Soft Maple up just yesterday in Hutto, after driving thru Austin to get there. 8-)

I really do NOT understand the class warfare thing being waged against Soft vs Hard Maple other than to attribute it to one-up-manship. The guy I got this from was closing up a 22,000sqft shop after +27yr of building not much more than Soft Maple furniture/display products. Says he made a lot of $$$ doing just that but is now retiring at 59, just as I ramp up in retirement to WW’r status at 59… go figure…

All I know is $2/BF is a bargain that I can afford to make a few mistakes with. 8-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View tom427cid's profile


294 posts in 3355 days

#7 posted 01-12-2012 08:44 AM

There aint no class warfare,its just another kind of wood each has characteristics better suited than the other.
I use ‘em both

-- "certified sawdust maker"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7898 posts in 3798 days

#8 posted 01-12-2012 02:43 PM

While I am NOT picking on Nomad, he brings up a point I found in several (more than a few) searches/posts on Soft Maple from several different websites and blogs. Trying to understand the basis for this bias, be it pro or con.

With that in mind, what do YOU think are the BEST uses for this stuff and what kinds of things should I avoid building with Soft Maple? Thanks.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3881 days

#9 posted 01-12-2012 02:59 PM

Spoil yourself. Built another workbench. Maybe a mini version to be transported around.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7898 posts in 3798 days

#10 posted 01-12-2012 03:04 PM

Now THAT has crossed my mind as well! My old secondary bench still gets a lot of use and it is just a 2×4 and plywood structure that is probably 40yr old if not more. That thing was given to me ~20yr ago from a retiree that was getting too old to use it anymore and the bench was old AT THAT TIME.

Hmm… 8-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 3842 days

#11 posted 01-12-2012 06:46 PM

I never meant any reference to any kind of wood as being generally better for everything, just making a statement about the wood you are stating you have and want to use. I personally like hard maple better as I feel it looks the best under specific conditions, but I have about 2000 bf of burled, tiger striped soft maple slabs I cut and are quite proud of them as well. You wanted small projects, I offered some up. No offense, aggression, or “class warfare” intended.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Jeff's profile


531 posts in 4078 days

#12 posted 01-12-2012 07:15 PM

Something I’ve been thinking about is some bedroom furniture for the as yet not available grand-children. I’m thinking of maple since it has a nice neutral color and grain.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7898 posts in 3798 days

#13 posted 01-12-2012 11:02 PM

Hey Nomad, I understand your point and truly I am not picking on you. It is that there just seems to be a lot of folks’ postings (beyond LJs) where people consider soft Maple as a 2nd class wood almost on par with Poplar, to be used in backs of drawers and/or out of sight.

Having never worked with soft Maple, I do not know its + and _’s but would be appreciative if I were to be clued into that knowledge base. Hence all of my questions… ;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5310 posts in 4844 days

#14 posted 01-12-2012 11:23 PM

Your best project wouild to bring about 75 bf to me in Mississippi. BWAHAHAHA!
Good haul.

-- [email protected]

View StumpyNubs's profile


7827 posts in 3684 days

#15 posted 01-12-2012 11:25 PM

I love soft maple. It often has fantastic figure and color. Great score!

(The greatest woodworking show mankind has ever conceived is now online!)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

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