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Maple Cabinetry

Maple

Holiday Kitchens uses only premium Hard Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) for its Maple cabinetry.  Sugar maple is a deciduous broadleaf hardwood.  Its name derives from its sweet sap that is commercially converted into syrup.  The sugar maple is native to Eastern North America, and is easily recognizable by its wide leaves with five palmate lobes.  The fall color of the maple leaf is brilliant, with colors ranging from bright yellow through orange to a flaming orange-red.  The bark of the sugar maple is light gray to gray-brown, rough, becoming deeply furrowed and darker with age.

 

 

Hard Maple Leaves in Autumn
Hard Maple Bark
Hard Sugar Maple Tree


Ecology

The natural range of the Hard Sugar Maple stretches from Nova Scotia west to Southern Ontario, and south to Georgia and Texas.  It is found as a dominant species in many northern hardwood and mixed forests, preferring valleys, stream terraces, and stream banks, though it is occasionally found in drier uplands.  It is an important species ecologically as it provides browse for many animals.  Historically its sap was the premier source of sweetener to Native Americans and early European settlers.  The sugar maple is prized as an ornamental tree, and has been planted in many locations outside its native range. 

Natural Range of Hard Sugar Maple


Forestry

Sugar maples begin to produce seeds at 30-40 years, with maximum seed production reached at around 60 years of age.  Seedlings are very shade tolerant and can grow well under an existing forest canopy.  Because most early growth is in shade, maples tend to grow slowly, averaging only a foot of growth per year for the first 30-40 years.  Growth in height ceases at about 150 years of age around 90-120 feet tall.  Diameter growth continues throughout the life of the tree.  Sugar maples are relatively long lived, surviving 300-400 years.  Trunk diameter is typically around 30-36 inches in mature trees, but diameters exceeding 6 feet have been recorded.  Maples in managed forests are typically harvested after 40-90 years of growth. 

Sugar maple has long been an important timber tree valued for its hard, dense, and strong wood.  It is commonly used to make furniture, paneling, and flooring.  It is used for basketball courts and bowling alleys.  It is also used for bowling pins, tool handles, cutting blocks, sporting goods, and musical instruments.

Wood and Grain Characteristics

Maple is a tight-grained, dense hardwood with an even texture.  Maple sands very well, leaving a satiny smooth surface.  The grain pattern of maple can vary from relatively straight to wildly arcing and curving.  Areas with extremely wavy grain are sometimes called “fiddleback”.  Maple can also have “birdseye”, or small dense swirls of grain around burls or tiny pin knots.  These unique patterns are highly prized in some applications.

 

Sanded Maple Panel

Birdseye Maple


Natural Wood Color

Maple wood color ranges from whitish to light brown, sometimes with a slight pinkness in its graining.  Holiday Kitchens selects only the whitest maple for use in its cabinetry.  This is accomplished by using only sugar maple that has been harvested from select forests in northern Michigan cut in the winter, when sap is not running.  Maple, like all woods, is affected over time by exposure to light and the environment.  Changes in color are relatively slow and subtle compared to other species of wood.  In general, maple will naturally dull and take on a creamy, golden tone as it ages.

Finishing Characteristics

Maple has a lustrous, smooth surface that takes finish relatively well.  Maple’s dense grain and tiny pores can prevent stain from penetrating as deeply as it may on other species.  Holiday Kitchens has specially formulated several stain options to help compensate for this tendency.  Spray/No-wipe stains are ideal for maple, as they are designed to penetrate only lightly on the surface of the wood. 

Maple is the preferred wood for painting and priming.  The smooth, even surface provides a superb substrate for a smooth, durable painted finish.  All of Holiday Kitchens’ paints and primers are available on maple. 

Glazes, including wash glazes and brush glazes, are an excellent way to add depth and accents to maple.  Glazes help to offset the shallower penetration of stain on maple by adding shadowing and intensity along edges and profiles.  Glazes also work well on painted maple by drawing attention to the edges and profiles of doors, drawer fronts, and other pieces.

Vintage Artistry options are available on maple.  Though the hardness of the wood may limit the depth of distressing compared to other species, the overall effect of Vintage Artistry on maple remains striking. 

Wood Quality

Knots occur infrequently in Maple, but are to be expected.  Holiday Kitchens sorts its maple to exclude any knots that are greater than 1/2” across on the front of any solid wood component or veneered maple component.  On the back of solid wood components, knots up to 1” across are allowed.  All knots will be sound (that is, they do not move) and solid (that is, flush across the surface).  On the front of any maple parts, you should find no more than 2 knots per 3 square feet of material.  Knots may be clustered, but the total number should not exceed the amount allowed based on the total square footage of the component.  There is no limit on the number of knots allowed on the backs of components.  Maple will occasionally have pin knots.  These are small knots (less than 1/8” across) that can occur singly or in tight clusters.  Holiday Kitchens doesn’t exclude any lumber based upon pin knots, as they are normal and expected in maple.

Mineral streaks are commonly found in maple.  In general, mineral streaks are small (only a few inches in length for the longest) and narrow.  Due to the very light color of maple, mineral streaks can be obtrusive if they are too large or if there are multiple occurrences.  Holiday Kitchens sorts out any mineral streaks that are larger than 4 inches in length or 1/4” in width.  Additionally, no more than 1 mineral streak greater than 1/2” in length will be allowed per 4 square feet.  Bark pockets, soft spots, decay, wormholes, and excessive grain stain are all considered defects and are sorted out by Holiday Kitchens.

Holiday Kitchens takes great care in selecting high quality maple.  

 

 

Typical Sound Knot
Typical Sound Knot
Typical Acceptable Mineral Streak


Cabinetry and Furniture

Maple is a superb choice for cabinetry, due to its workability, density, strength, smooth grain, and myriad of finishing capabilities.

 

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