American hard maple

Acer saccharum, Acer nigrum

General Description

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 texture and is generally straight grained, but it can also occur as “curly”, “fiddleback”, and “birdseye” figure.

Other Common names

Sugar maple, black maple

Distribution & Availability

Eastern USA, principally Northeastern and Lake States. A cold weather tree favouring a more northerly climate. Widely available as lumber and veneer. The higher quality grades of lumber are available selected for white colour (sapwood), although this can limit availability. Figured maple (birdseye, curly, fiddleback) is generally only available in commercial volumes as veneer.

Case Studies

Castellón Auditorium, Spain

Castellón Auditorium, Spain

American hard maple accentuates the key design features in the Castellόn Auditorium: light and space.

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View Physical & Mechanical Properties

Physical & Mechanical Properties

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.

American hard maple - Physical & Mechanical Properties

Specific Gravity (12% M.C.):0.63
Average Weight (12% M.C.):705 kg/m3
Average Volume Shrinkage (Green to 6% M.C.):11.90%
Modulus of Rupture:108.941 MPa
Modulus of Elasticity:12,618 MPa
Compressive strength (parallel to grain):
53.988 MPa
Hardness:6450 N
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View Working Properties

Working Properties

Hard maple dries slowly with a large 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 and polished to an outstanding finish.

American hard maple - Working Properties

SawingExcellent
PlaningGood
DrillingGood
BoringExcellent
TurningExcellent
Carving
Good
Moulding
Good
Nailing
Fair
Screwing
Fair
Gluing
Good
Finishing
Excellent
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View Main Uses

Main Uses

Flooring, furniture, panelling, kitchen cabinets, worktops and table tops, interior joinery: stairs, handrails, mouldings, and doors. The hard wearing properties and tight smooth grain make this species ideal for high traffic flooring applications, such as theatres, concert halls, gymnasiums and basketball courts.

American hard maple - Main Uses

Doors
Flooring
Furniture
Joinery
Kitchen cabinets
Mouldings and
turnings
Veneered panels
Sports goods
Tool handles
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Other Information

The lighter coloured sapwood will tend to darken over time on exposure to UV light. Hard maple lumber is often sorted for the white (sapwood) colour, which the NHLA grading rules define as White maple or Sap maple. For more information, refer to AHEC’s publication The Illustrated Guide to American Hardwood Lumber Grades.

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