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What Are The Characteristics Of Hard Maple Furniture?

canadian flag and hard maple leave

Table of Contents

The maple leaf on the Canadian flag is from the Canadian maple. 

North American hard maple is mainly growing in Canada and the United States. The F&B grade hard maple from Gutchess Lumber Co., Inc is the best. F&B grade is Gutchess’s standard, the highest grade of the FAS level.

F&B grade hard maple is stable, dried strictly, with a slight colour difference and almost no scar.

Maple trees belong to the Aceraceae family. There are nearly 200 species of maple trees in the world. 

China has a variety of maple trees, and Japan has the well-known “Kyoto Viewing Maple.” But none of them is suitable for furniture.

Yet north American hard maple is perfect for furniture.

1. What are the characteristics of Hard Maple Furniture in China factories?

1.1. Material characteristics 
1.1.1 colour: the heartwood is dark, and the sapwood is creamy white
1.1.2 Texture: fine, straight and sometimes water-ripple textures.
1.1.3 Lustre: good.
1.1.4 color difference: more evident on the spliced hard maple board
1.2. Physical and mechanical properties 
1.2.1 Physical and mechanical properties:
specific gravity(when water content is 12%): 0.63;
Average weight(when water content is 12%),Kg/m3: 705;
Average volume shrinkage:(from wet wood to 6% moisture content)%: 11.9;
Modulus of rupture, MPa: 108941;
Elastic Modulus, MPa: 12618;
Compressive strength (with grain) ,MPa: 53988;
Hardness,N: 6450
1.2.2 Janka Hardness: 1450
1.2.3 Wear resistance and elasticity: perfect
1.2.4 Stability: average
1.2.5 Good steam-bending performance: perfect
1.3. Processing performance: Hard maple is “good” and “excellent” in all aspects except for “average” on nailing and wood screwing.
1.4. Durability: average
1.5. Main uses of hard maple: applied for furniture, joinery, doors, cabinets, floors, and sports equipment.
1.6. Status: a low-key “noble” among light-coloured woods
1.7. Classification: hard maple and soft maple
1.8. Origin: North America
1.9. Height: 20-37 meters
1.10. Popularity: Not very popular in China
1.11. Price: lower than black walnut and similar to white oak and back cherry.
1.12. The country that imports the most: Japan
1.13. Counterfeiters: Birch

1.1. Material characteristics

1.1.1. colour.

In general, it is heartwood for making furniture, but it is sapwood in hard maple.

The heartwood of hard maple is dark, and the sapwood is creamy white. The quality of heartwood is not as good as sapwood. 

The sapwood will gradually change to creamy yellow due the oxidation.

The colour difference between maple sapwood and heartwood is big.
▲The colour difference between maple sapwood and heartwood is big.
The colour of the hard maple sapwood and the furniture made. 
▲The colour of the hard maple sapwood and the furniture made. 
Comparison of sapwood of different grades.
comparison of sapwood and heartwood of various degrees.
▲Left: Comparison of sapwood of different grades.
Right: comparison of sapwood and heartwood of various degrees.

1.1.2 Texture: 

Like black cherry, hard maple has fine, straight and sometimes water-ripple textures.

The texture of hard maple.
▲The texture of hard maple.

Its texture is evenly distributed and beautiful.

The two textures are mainly different in colour. The cherry wood’s colour is yellow, becoming more reddish brown after oxidation. Hard maple is milky white and later changes to light milky yellow after oxidation.

Both have natural mineral spots and lines. The spots and lines on the hard maple are more visible due to the light base colour. Hard maple has fewer mineral lines than black cherry wood.

The contrast of hard maple and black cherry wood textures
▲The contrast of hard maple and black cherry wood textures

The best hard maples from north of New York State to Canada have few mineral strands.

Like black walnut has golden burr, hard maple has rare shimmering textures. They are “music instrument back texture” and “bird’s eye texture.” They appear dazzled and uneven. The veneer is often used as decoration for luxury homes and car interiors.

Left: Golden burr of black walnut 
Right: music instrument back texture of hard maple
▲Left: Golden burr of black walnut 
Right: music instrument back texture of hard maple
Music instrument back texture and cabinets made of wood veneer with this texture
▲Music instrument back texture and cabinets made of wood veneer with this texture
Bird's eye pattern of hard maple veneer
▲Bird’s eye pattern of hard maple veneer

Due to oxidation, hard maple treated with wax oil will change to light warm yellow.

The hard maple bed and kitchen cabinet changed to light warm yellow due to oxidation.
▲The hard maple bed and kitchen cabinet changed to light warm yellow due to oxidation.

1.1.3. Grain and lustre

Hard maple has a uniquely fine texture and good lustre. Its pores and rays are tiny. Thus the surface has a perfect silky feeling after being treated. It is different from other kinds of wood.

Like black cherry, hard maple is also semi-ring-porous to diffuse-porous wood. It has a smooth and baby skin alike feeling after being polished.

difference between ring-porous, semi-ring porous, and diffuse porous
▲Ring-porous, semi-ring porous and diffuse-porous wood
The hard maple bed and kitchen cabinet changed to light warm yellow due to oxidation.
The hard maple bed and kitchen cabinet changed to light warm yellow due to oxidation.
▲c

1.1.4. colour difference:

The colour difference is more evident on the spliced hard maple board. So customers should check whether they can accept this before placing an order. 

1.2. Physical and mechanical properties

1.2.1. Physical and mechanical properties

PropertiesData
specific gravity(when water content is 12%)0.63 
average weight(when water content is 12%),Kg/m3705
average volume shrinkage:(from wet wood to 6% moisture content)%11.9 
modulus of rupture, MPa108,941 
Elastic Modulus, MPa12,618 
Compressive strength (with grain) ,MPa53,988 
Hardness,N6450
▲Physical and mechanical properties of hard maple

Why is it called Hard Maple? Because it is hard and heavy. 

Of the dozen types of wood from North America, hard maple is the 2nd hardest one. It is softer than hickory but harder than all other woods, including white ash and oak.

Hard
Maple
Soft MapleYellow BirchWhite BirchRead OakWhite OakWhite AshBeechBasswoodAspenCherryBlack Walnut
Density(kg/m3)659545608571612676613667417408551594
Hardness,N729043805930432061707130705064902140214042264492
▲Density and hardness data of various wood species

1.2.2 Janka Hardness 

Hard maple’s Janka hardnesses is 1450, and black cherry is 950. 

Cherry wood is not scratch-resistant. If we scratch it with a coin, there will be marks left on it, but not on hard maple.

Janka Hardness test
▲Janka Hardness Test

1.2.3 Wear resistance and elasticity

Hard maple is very scratch-resistant, wear-resistant and elastic. So it is the perfect option for sports equipment, floors in theatres, concert halls and basketball courts. 

Hard maple is the designated material for the floors of 29 NBA teams. The NBA is stringent on the selection of floor materials. It is said that the cost of these removable floors is as high as US$2,000 per square meter.

The hard maple from Gutchess almost covers all the fairways of Japanese bowling alleys.

The hard maple floor is being laid at the home of the NBA Miami Heat.
▲ The hard maple floor is being laid at the home of the NBA Miami Heat.
Hard maple floor of NBA game courts.
▲Hard maple floor of NBA game courts.
Clubs and skateboards made of hard maple 
▲Clubs and skateboards made of hard maple 

1.2.4 Stability: 

Hard maple is a moderately stable wood. It has a stretch rate of 11.9% from wet lumber to 6% moisture content (data from the American Hardwood Export Council). This figure is higher than black walnut and cherry but lower than white oak by 12.6%. 

We should allow enough room for expansion when making hard maple furniture.

Therefore, frames, expansion gaps and strapping are essential in hard maple production. Customers should order from an experienced china hard maple furniture factory.

Frames and expansion gaps are made on hard maple furniture
▲Frames and expansion gaps are made.

1.2.5. Good steam-bending performance

Under high-temperature steam conditions, hard maple can be made into curved wood furniture.

Steam-bending hard maple box
▲Steam-bending hard maple box

1.3. Processing performance

Among the performance of sawing, planing, drilling, cutting, carving, forming, nailing, gluing, finishing, etc. hard maple is “good” and “excellent” in all aspects except for “average” on nailing and wood screwing.

PoorAverageGoodPerfect
Sawing
Planing
Drilling
Hole Drilling
Cutting
Carving
Forming
Nailing
Wood Screwing
Gluing
Finishing
▲The processing performance of hard maple

Compared with softer woods, hard maple is more challenging to process.

The finishing of hard maple is “excellent.” It means the hard maple surface will be excellent after sanding and polishing.

Hard maple door panel
▲Hard maple door panel

Hard maple has excellent properties in polishing, bonding and hot bending. It is suitable for daily furniture.

It has good gluing and paint-coating properties.

Surface finishing: the hard maple is smooth and with clear texture after polishing. We usually use wax oil on it instead of coloured lacquer. Hard maple rubbed with wax oil looks clean and decent.

1.4. Durability.

Durability refers to resistance to corrosion (including moth-eaten). It is essential for outdoor use.

Hard maple has average corrosion resistance. Insects easily damage the sapwood. So we need to treat the sapwood with anti-corrosion.

1.5. Main uses of hard maple

ProductsApplication
Doors
Floors
Furniture
Joinery
Kitchen Cabinets
Decoration lines
and car-related products
Wood veneer
Sport equipments
Tool handles
▲Source: American Hardwood Export Council

Hard maple is applied for furniture, joinery, doors, cabinets, floors, and sports equipment.

Hard maple kitchen cabinet
▲Hard maple kitchen cabinet
Hard maple door panels
▲Hard maple door panels

In China, hard maple is generally for children’s furniture because the milky white colour and silky feeling are popular with kids. Also, scratch resistance is especially suitable for active kids.

1.6. Status.

Hard maple has always been a low-key “noble” among light-coloured woods.

1.7. Classification.

There are hard maple and soft maple. North American maple is more rigid, and European maple is softer. The maple leaf on the Canadian flag is a hard maple leaf.

1.8. Origin.

China’s hard maple is mainly from North America.

1.9. Height.

The height of a hard maple tree is generally 20-37 meters, and the trunk diameter is 0.6-0.9 meters.

1.10. Popularity.

Not very popular in China. 

Hard maple in China can be far less popular than the well-known oak, black walnut, black cherry and white ash. 

The reason is that the output of hard maple is not as much as other hardwoods in North America. 

In China, very few dealers sell hard maple sawn timber and hard maple furniture.

Japan and Europe import more hard maple.

1.11. Price.

The price of hard maple is lower than black walnut and similar to white oak and back cherry.

1.12. The country that imports the most.

Japan imports more Canadian hard maple than any other country. Because the Japanese furniture style is in a light colour, and its demand for hard maple floors is vast.

1.13. Counterfeiters: Birch

Birch texture
▲Birch texture

Birch has a very similar grain to hard maple and black cherry. It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between birch and hard maple.

As birch is cheaper and with more supply, some factories may use birch to pretend to be hard maple.

Birch must be rubbed with colour to imitate black cherry wood. 

Yet it needs no treatment when imitating hard maple because it has almost the same texture, colour and hand-feeling as hard maple.

Birch has less toughness, alkali resistance, density, and hardness than hard maple.

Birch looks cleaner and has less colour difference than hard maple. But the maple texture is more prominent, transparent and beautiful.

The Birch floor is much lighter than the hard maple floor of the same size.

2. Maintenance of maple furniture

2.1. Avoid direct sunlight.

Avoid direct sunlight on maple furniture. If it is exposed to sunlight for a long time, the surface is prone to small cracks, fading and deformation. 

Therefore, it is recommended to close the curtains to block the bright light.

2.2. Avoid too humid or dry environments.

If the house environment is too moist, it is best not to place maple furniture inside. Hard maple furniture will expand and deform due to moisture.

If we have already placed hard maple furniture at home, we can use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity.

The hard maple furniture should be kept away from air conditioner vents or heat sources. Or the drastic temperature changes will damage the furniture surface and shorten its service life.

2.3. Gently lift and handle.

Do not pull hard to avoid loosening or damaging the maple furniture when moving or transporting it. 

In addition, we should place them evenly. If the floor is uneven, it needs to be levelled.

2.4. Avoid placing overweight items on maple furniture。

Do not stack heavy items on maple furniture like wardrobes to avoid deformation.

2.5. Daily cleaning.

Maple furniture will inevitably be contaminated with dust during use. If it is not cleaned in time, it is easy to generate bacteria. It is recommended to wipe it with a clean and soft cloth. 

If there are difficult-to-clean stains, such as soot, we can use a professional wood cleaner.

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