The hard maple is the state tree of Wisconsin, Vermont, New York and West Virginia. In the North, during the cold nights and warm days of late winter, the sugar maple is tapped for its sucrose-containing sap, the source of maple syrup. It may take up to 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Early American settlers used maple ashes to make soap and Native Americans crafted their spears from hard maple. Until the turn of the century, the heels of women's shoes were made from maple. Maple has been a favorite of American furniture makers since early Colonial days. Hard maple is the standard wood for cutting boards because it imparts no taste to food and holds up well.
Where it Grows
Eastern U.S., principally Mid-Atlantic and Lake states. A cold weather tree favoring a more northerly climate, its average height is 130 feet.
Flooring, furniture, paneling, ballroom and gymnasium floors, kitchen cabinets, worktops, table tops, butchers blocks, toys, kitchenware and millwork: stairs, handrails, mouldings, and doors.
The sapwood is creamy white with a slight reddish brown tinge and the heartwood varies from light to dark reddish brown. The amount of darker brown heartwood can vary significantly according to growing region. Both sapwood and heartwood can contain pith fleck. The wood has a close fine, uniform texture and is generally straight-grained, but it can also occur as "curly," "fiddleback," and "birds-eye" figure.
Hard maple dries slowly with high shrinkage, so it can be susceptible to movement in performance. Pre-boring is recommended when nailing and screwing. With care it machines well, turns well, glues satisfactorily, and can be stained to an outstanding finish. Polishes well and is suitable for enamel finishes and brown tones.
The wood is hard and heavy with good strength properties, in particular its high resistance to abrasion and wear. It also has good steam-bending properties.