Like all of the maples, red (soft) maple is a fine textured,
diffuse-porous wood with creamy white sapwood and light beige or tannish-brown
heartwood. Sometimes, the heartwood exhibits a grayish-green hue. The configuration
of anatomical features (rays and pores) makes it virtually indistinguishable
other maples. Although it is classified as a "soft" maple by the lumber
trade along with silver maple and bigleaf maple, it is generally 5% to 7%
heavier than these soft maples. Although it is slightly stronger than other
soft maples and certainly rugged enough for most furniture applications,
it is ont as strong as sugar (hard) maple.
Soft maple has virtually all of the favorable working characteristics
of sugar (hard) maple. Since it is diffuse porous, it turns well, planes
well and requires no fillers in preparing the surface to accept a glass
smooth finish. In fact, because it is noticeable softer than sugar maple,
it is easier to
work and its lower volumetric shrinkage (even lower than
black walnut) make it more reliably stable in use than hard maple.
Uses include turned articles, kitchen utensils, toys and novelties, crating, pallets, core stock, upholstered furniture framing and inexpensive cabinets.