#47: Maple

Bird number: 70
Date: June 6, 2012
Wood: Maple (Acer)
Source: Yard sale

A local carver posted that he was having a yard sale to get rid of a bunch of wood that he’d collected over the years. He and his wife are selling their house so that they can build a new one, and he didn’t want the expense of moving and storing all that wood while the new house is being built. His garage was packed. I wisely decided to go there with minimal cash in my pocket. Putting me in a garage full of wood and lots of cash would be like dropping a shopaholic in the mall with a no-limit credit card.

I did pick up a few pieces, though: a 6 foot length of 4″ x 4″ basswood, some pieces of cottonwood bark, and a nice hunk of maple. I’m a little disappointed, though, that I passed on that willow plank.

What kind of maple is unclear. I had no idea that there are 128 different species. It’s quite likely that this is Sugar maple (Acer saccharum, also known as “hard maple”), simply because that’s what most wood workers call maple. Other types of maple are usually identified. For example, I took down a dead Silver maple over the weekend, and will be carving a bird from it in the near future.

The wood definitely is hard! I did the rough carving on this bird during the same session I carved the hickory bird, and discovered that the maple was almost as hard as the hickory. It sure does finish up nice, though.

Maple is a very popular carving and turning wood. Relatively few people carve it with a knife, but many will use mallet tools or power. I’ve carved a few caricatures from maple, and one spoon. The wood is also used for furniture, flooring, and cabinets, among other things. It’s just a beautiful wood, and I’m glad I have a good sized chunk of it left for carving something else. I also have 5′ long Silver maple trunk that’s more than 12″ in diameter, and some smaller pieces. I think I’ll have enough maple for a while.