Although several different maple species are referred to as “soft,” the species of soft maple lumber we sell is red maple, or acer rubrum. It grows in a wide distribution from the Atlantic States north through the Great Lake States. The only soft maple found in the West is Bigleaf.
Soft maple lumber has a very similar appearance to hard maple, with a lighter sapwood and a darker, brownish heartwood. Although it is “softer” than rock maple, red maple is still hard with a Janka ranking of 950. It is not as heavy and strong as hard maple. The sapwood of the red maple we stock is generally darker in appearance than the sapwood of the rock maple in our bins. Higher grades of soft maple are often substituted for hard maple in furniture making.
This wood turns and works well. It also takes stain and polishes well. It has good holding ability for fasteners and nails, and is moderate in gluing.
It is used as lumber, veneer, paper pulp, furniture, pallets, woodenware, novelties, and in turnery.