Curly Maple

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Forum topic by Martin659 posted 02-07-2014 11:58 PM 1801 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 2731 days

02-07-2014 11:58 PM

I’m sure these questions have been covered countless times, but I’m under a time crunch and kinda hope that someone can answer them one more time. My pregnant wife and I just found out that our first child’s heart has stopped beating, and the doctors plan on taking her on Monday. Since she is in her second trimester we need a small box for burial. To say we’re both devastated is an understatement, but I feel a strong desire to build this box for her. I’ve got some long firewood pieces that ended up being curly maple. I put them on the mill and cut some boards tonight and need some ideas.

The boards actually dried kinda dark, especially in the area of the curl. What can I do to level the shades out without dulling the curl? Also, does sanding to a high grit make figured wood pop better, or does it matter? If it does, at what grit level should I sand to?

Finally, what domestic species do you personally like with CM? With this darker contrast I’m thinking that cherry might pair well?

Many thanks.


Here is a pic. The creamy color isn’t from a flash, it’s what you would think of maple looking like.

21 replies so far

View summerfi's profile


4253 posts in 2107 days

#1 posted 02-08-2014 12:10 AM

Martin – I’m so very sorry to hear your story. As someone who lost a 2 week old infant 23 years ago, I can partly understand what you’re feeling. It gets easier over time, but you never forget. My prayers are with you and your entire family.

I’m not sure I can help much with your question except to refer you to an excellent video I recently watched by LJ’s very own Charles Neil. Charles is a master at working with curly maple, so you might consider sending him a PM for more advise specific to your question.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works -- ~Non multa sed multum~

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3462 days

#2 posted 02-08-2014 12:26 AM

Depending on how you are integrating the contrast wood, I would suggest walnut for a more dramatic contrast.

Otherwise, I would PM Charles Nei as well.

Very sorry about losing your child.

View Martin659's profile


8 posts in 2731 days

#3 posted 02-08-2014 12:31 AM

Thanks for the replies and the kind words fellas. I’m still too new to send messages right now. Could some please pm him for me and reference this page? I would greatly appreciate it.


View Martin659's profile


8 posts in 2731 days

#4 posted 02-08-2014 12:39 AM

By the way, the contrasting wood will likely be narrow rails and stiles for a book matched panel top. The wood I have won’t quite give me the width I need for the top, so I’m going to use a crotch area from a similar piece of CM for the top. I may also spline the corners with the same wood. The dark nature of this maple is throwing me off. I always think of maple as creamy yellow, not this. I may end up at woodcraft for a short clear piece, as bad as I hate to.

View summerfi's profile


4253 posts in 2107 days

#5 posted 02-08-2014 12:40 AM

PM sent to Charles for you Martin.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works -- ~Non multa sed multum~

View CharlesA's profile


3383 posts in 2218 days

#6 posted 02-08-2014 12:45 AM

So sorry. You’ll be glad you did this. A profound expression of love.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Dusty56's profile


11848 posts in 4108 days

#7 posted 02-08-2014 12:52 AM

So sad to read your post. God bless you and your family.
Personally, it doesn’t seem like this is the wood that you really want to use.
Go get some that will make you instantly happy for this special occasion.Why try to “fix” something and regret it later on ? Almost any darker wood will contrast nicely with the normal Maple color.While you’re at the wood store, simply hold the Maple that you pick next to various darker woods …one of them will speak louder to you than the rest : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 2293 days

#8 posted 02-08-2014 01:12 AM

I have nothing to add from a woodworking perspective, but also want to extend my profound sympathy to you and your wife for your loss.

-- Dave K.

View Martin659's profile


8 posts in 2731 days

#9 posted 02-08-2014 01:44 AM

Thanks everyone. I’ve swallowed a lot of lumps in the back of my throat the past 24 hours. The permanence of what Monday is going to bring will be particularly difficult.

Thanks Bob, for sending the pm for me.

Dusty, you’re right, I wasn’t fond of the color when I made the opening cut. With the olive oil that I used to show the curl in the picture, it made the piece look similar to a roasted maple. I am fond of that color, but one way or another, I want whatever I use to be even. Our best work is going in the box, but I want the box to be as good as i can make it, too. The wood also came from the baby’s grandpa, so there is something to be said for that too. If I can’t get it to come out right, I’ll run to Woodcraft and get on with the project. One way or another, I need the finish to be dry before we check into the hospital Sunday night.

Thanks again, everyone.


View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3110 days

#10 posted 02-08-2014 02:49 AM

Martin, My heart goes out to you and your wife.
I would use the maple you have as it has family history. You can sand it to whatever you want, wipe on some BlO and then rub with a clean rag. I have then applied shellac immediately (rubbed on with t shirt materiel). No need to wait for the BLO to “cure/dry”. The shellac will dry almost instantly allowing several coats before Monday. I think either black cherry or walnut will contrast nicely. Remember that the cherry will darken a lot over the next few months.
Keep your chin up. We’re all praying for you and your wife.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Bobsboxes's profile


1369 posts in 3084 days

#11 posted 02-08-2014 03:04 AM

Martin, my prayers to you and your wife in this sad time.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2857 days

#12 posted 02-08-2014 05:09 AM

Martin, first let me say I can’t even begin to imagine what you and your wife are going through at this time. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and yours.

As far as your wood goes I second what Andy above said. Use the wood as is and use BLO and shellac for a fast and nice finish.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View Bluepine38's profile


3386 posts in 3505 days

#13 posted 02-08-2014 05:54 AM

Losing a child that far along is a tough one, my prayers and sympathy to you and your wife, and I hope
you both recover well from the loss. Many cemeteries have special plots for these young angels, you
might want to check and see if they have any requirements.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View CharlesNeil's profile


2483 posts in 4291 days

#14 posted 02-08-2014 01:47 PM

I am so sorry for your loss,I pray God will give you peace and walk you thru this valley.

I like Cherry or Walnut, as a nice accent . The thing that makes maple really pop is a good base finish, Many like BLO , Im not a fan..It dries too slow ,, I much prefer a coat of shellac or if time permits a good varnish oil, I would suggest a good varnish oil like Arm R Seal or some Minwax wipe on poly ..Even a gel varnish will do .Rarely do we sand past 180 , except for end gran then we go to 200 , then 320 then a quick 600 burnish.

The discoloration your speaking of can either possibly be removed by bleaching , or enhanced . Enhanced meaning we can some color in the curl to bring it out more . Tell what lets do.. Here is my personal email [email protected] , if you will email me I will try to “show ” you how and more on curly/tiger maple. Would be alot easier and faster for you .

View Martin659's profile


8 posts in 2731 days

#15 posted 02-08-2014 02:41 PM

It’s a family cemetery so no restrictions and after Monday the box will forever be buried. I’ve been thinking, if time permits, to route grooves for a little removable cross to fit in the lid – something for us to keep. Thank you all for your help and kind words. Charles, I’ll send you an email in just a minute.

Thanks again,


showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

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