Bird number: 101
Date: September 20, 2012
Wood: Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
Source: Front yard
All told, we lost six trees in the drought. The last was one of the two Silver Maple trees that were little more than twigs when we moved in. When we took it out a couple months back, the trunk was well over a foot in diameter. It had a lush canopy early last summer. This summer, the tree was mostly dead limbs. There were a few areas with green leaves, but not enough to keep the tree around. Of all the trees that died in the drought, this is the one that I most hated to lose.
I did, however, save the trunk and many of the larger limbs for carving.
Silver Maple is one of the most common trees in the United States. It’s a popular ornamental tree because it grows quickly, looks nice, and provides a lot of shade. The tree is not without its problems, though. The roots are shallow, commonly invading septic fields and cracking sidewalks. The wood is brittle, making the tree susceptible to damage in high winds.
The wood is softer than Sugar Maple or any other maple that I’ve carved. Although I carved this bird with the Foredom, I’ve carved other pieces of Silver Maple with a knife. I’d rate it about like Black Walnut in terms of working it with a knife. It’s more difficult than Basswood and Butternut, but nothing like carving Cherry or Apple. The wood cuts nicely, with no tendency to split or tear.
I find the coloration much more striking than the Sugar Maple. However, that might be because all the Sugar Maple I’ve carved has been from “clear” wood that doesn’t have any knots or other irregularities. As you might expect, I prefer the more varied pieces for these birds.
I’m looking forward to working with this wood again. I hope I continue to enjoy it, because I have lots of the stuff sitting in my wood pile. I suppose I can burn it if I get tired of carving it. I’ve been told that Silver Maple makes great BBQ wood.