Hey I’m curious about bigleaf maples; I make pipes and walking sticks and i’m wanting to know if it will be 1. “The only one that seems to be specifically associated with a species is birdseye…” Quilted maple is a type of figure that some say only appears in Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum); it depends on your idea of quilted figure. Why does it cost about half as much as Hard Maple? Also, the density is given for wood that is at 12% moisture content: having a substantially higher or lower moisture content can alter the wood’s weight accordingly. I don’t know if they actually put any thought into their tree planting method, i.e. Directions: Stir in ferrous sulfate and allow to stand for several minutes. Box elder—Distinct from other maple leaves, box elder is sometimes called “ash-leaved maple,” since its leaves look closer to ash than maple. Thanks, Hello, is there something as European/US distinction of maple? If you have a small postage scale, or an accurate digital scale, you may be able to get relatively accurate measurements. Dave, With hard maple, virtually no dent should be left with your fingernail, yet soft maple will be more likely to be dented. A common measurement of wood hardness is the janka hardness test. Thank you. Janka hardness has been shown to be directly related to density. Red maple—Leaves can vary in form, and look similar to either striped maple or hard maple—though with a more jagged edge. Thankfully, a solution of ferrous sulfate (FeSO4) can be used to distinguish between a few types of maples, especially between red maple and hard maple. Soft maple is commonly used for railroad crossties, boxes, pallets, crates, furniture, veneer, wooden ware and novelties. The hard maple you buy should be 99% white sapwood. Soft Maple is actually a hardwood. MAIN USES Furniture, paneling and millwork, kitchen cabinets, moulding, doors, musical instruments, and turnings. I drink maple water from soft maples (1.2 to 1.7 sugar). Generally, one good way to tell hard maples from soft maples is to look at the sinuses between the leaf lobes. The brown darkens slightly with the grey stain while the blonde portion looks truly grey. Sanding is also a bit more of a problem w/ soft maple for the same reason. Even though it is referred to as soft maple, it is only soft in relation to hard maple. Strong enough to work with and last. The Maple Syrup Production Beginner’s Notebook is available here: https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.cornell.edu/dist/7/5773/files/2019/08/Beginner-Notebook-1st-Edition-1.pdf. For anyone interested in maple syrup, Cornell has a nice guide for beginners. Leaves of black maple also tend to be thicker than those of hard maple. So my question is does hard maple tend to move more than soft maple(red leaf). The kiln-dried wood is resilient against warping, molding, or cracking over the years or in differing humidity levels. Images: Drag the slider up/down to toggle between raw and finished wood. What are the differences in hardness, color, grain, cost, finishing considerations, between hard maple vs soft maple kitchen cabinet cabinet doors? Wood products are known for their natural beauty, but when selecting a type of wood for your next cabinetry, flooring, furniture or millwork project, it is important to also consider the level of durability by understanding the difference between wood types. Hard maple ranks 1,450, while red oak ranks 1,290. The only maple with Birdseye is a hard maple ? Nice Article. I have been harvesting curly red maple for violins here in north carolina and have found wood density to vary in each tree. (And to a great extent, this also accounts for the difference in cost between the two types of maples as well. … (Most measurements won’t come out to a perfectly even number, but I chose a board with easy dimensions to make it a little simpler to calculate.). FYI: I receive a commission on sales generated through links to Amazon, eBay, etc. I have noticed no tonal difference. The test measures the amount of force required to embed a .444″ diameter steel ball halfway into the wood. Soft maple is used for furniture, kitchen cabinets, doors, musical instruments, turnings and millwork. A 10X hand lense helps to see this in the end grain. The test measures the amount of force required to embed a .444″ … From there, you can usually get a fairly good baseline impression as to whether the wood is hard or soft maple. The highest grade of qulited figure in maple, with a dense display of blisters that seem three-dimensional, are found only in Bigleaf maple, but any maple can have less prominent areas of figure that some call quilt. Typically, when referring to the tree, it’s called sugar maple, while the wood is referred to as hard maple or “rock” maple. Sugar maple = hard maple; they are the same species. Since hard maple grows slower than soft maple, the growth rings on hard maple will generally be closer together than those of soft maple. Soft maple, on the other hand, is relatively easy to work with. Likewise, if a piece of verified hard maple should happen to be as lightweight as a piece of soft maple, then most of the rationale for using hard maple is irrelevant. It is easy to cut and shape for unique furniture designs. (If only a thin layer is brushed on, or if the wood rapidly absorbs the solution, it’s recommended to reapply a second layer within about a minute of the first application.) Soft maple is a commercial term meant to differentiate the wood of some types of maple from hard maple (Acer saccharum). Both varieties are harder than many other woods; hard maple is so hard (a 5 on a scale of 1 to 5) that it’s difficult to work with. It is widely used as a substitute to Hard Maple because of its similarity. Hard maple—The classic shape that is most often associated with a maple leaf. It should be obvious that hard maple is harder than soft maple, but you may be wondering how much of a difference there is between the two. In my opinion, getting an accurate density value is the best way to practically evaluate maple. You can also tell the difference via wood rays. Further, if you use it in segmented bowls next to darkers woods, there’s a tendancy for the dust from the darker woods to lodge in the pores of the maple. The term “soft maple” does not refer to any specific species of maple, but rather, it’s a broad term which includes several different species of maple. The wood of Soft Maple is similar in color, grain pattern and texture to Hard Maple. Relative hardness of wood flooring species. The term refers to the quality of a maple tree's wood. “V” shaped sinus (red & silVer maple) is a SOFT maple; I’ll let y’all know how we do after Oct. 18, 2015! You are correct: those terms describe the grain, and not a distinct species. So multiplying things out, we find that our board is 42 pounds per 1728 cubic inches (or one cubic foot). A much better and more accurate way of testing the wood, you can take measurements of the board in question, and then weigh it to get an estimate of its density. Distribution: Temperate regions of North America, Average Dried Weight: 30.2 to 38.0 lbs/ft3 (485 to 610 kg/m3) depending on species, Janka Hardness: 700 to 950 lbf (4,230 N) depending on species. A color change can be seen within about 10 minutes, but it’s best to wait about an hour for the full color to develop before attempting to determine the outcome. High end drums are made out of Canadian Rock maple veneer plies. However, some online retailers like Amazon have the chemical for sale in much smaller quantities. My apologies for letting my fingers out-quick my brain on the above post! Next, we’ll assume we’ve weighed the board, and found that it weighs 3 pounds, 8.0 ounces (or 3.5 pounds). It is about 25% softer than Hard Maple. Acer rubrum. Are these characteristics of maple, or are there different species of maple? Soft: Cypress, alder, hemlock, white pine, basswood and poplar (commonly used for paint-grade cabinets but medium density fiberboard - MDF - is a much better choice since it is much harder, about 1200 on the Janka scale -similar to oak - versus 540 for poplar) Our chart is based on the Janka Hardness Scale which is the industry standard for gauging the ability of various wood species to resist denting and tolerate normal wear. But, true to its name, I remember that the leaves themselves were all gigantic, though it’s hard to express since I didn’t include a scale or ruler next to the leaves. Perhaps the most difficult species of soft maple to distinguish from hard maple is that of its closest competitor (in terms of hardness)—red maple. Relative Hardness Table for Domestic and Imported Woods Janka Numbers For Domestic & Exotic Wood Species The Janka Side Hardness test measures the force required to press an 11.28mm (0.444 inch) steel ball to half its diameter cross-grain into a block of wood. Taking this calculation (42 pcf), and looking at the table above, it would appear that in all likelihood, this board is indeed Hard Maple. On the contrary, Soft Maple is twice as hard as Poplar, putting it at the same hardness level as Cherry. Northwest’s Soft Maple is grown in both the Glacial and Appalachian regions. The trouble is—for whatever reason—I can’t seem to find any reliable information on the wood! Yet since everyone’s fingernails and strength is different, this should only be considered a very crude means of testing when other methods/tools are not available. See the article on Hardwood Anatomy for definitions of endgrain features. For instance, if you live in Oregon, the soft maple that you buy (if it has been harvested locally) will likely be bigleaf maple, while those living in the eastern United States may actually be buying red maple or silver maple. Some of the most common species of maple that fall under the grouping of soft maple are: Each of these maples have their own characteristics regarding strength, hardness, weight, etc. Besides this one species of maple, the only other species that are sometimes considered in the grouping of hard maple in the United States are black maple (Acer nigrum) and Florida maple (Acer floridanum). That looks like sheesham, aka Indian rosewood. Let’s say we have a piece of maple that is 24 inches long, 8 inches wide, and .75 inches thick. The Janka scale is used to determine the relative hardness of particular … Could you please give me some ideas? A common measurement of wood hardness is the janka hardness test. Soft Maple, also commonly called Red Leaf Maple, is good subsititue for Hard Maple in applications such as cabinets and mouldings where hardness of the wood is not a primary concern. Janka Hardness: 700 to 950 lb f (4,230 N) depending on species. I have 2 different leaves! That shreddy quality is something I saw in another unidentified wood sample that I’m trying to identify. Do you have any pictures of this floor? I was told my natural floor is Canadian maple,it’s hard but what type of oil is best to feed and treat as it’s not varnished etc I love the flooring and want to keep as long as possible. In fact, Soft Maple has a density of 950 on the Janka Hardness Scale. Bigleaf maple—Just as its name implies, this species of maple has the largest leaves of any maple, with a leaf size of 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) across. The blond takes stain readily while the brown is more resistant so you often see pieces that are brown and grey. But overall, they are not as hard nor as strong as hard maple; though for a more exact comparison, continue to the data found in the next section. The good news is that for many purposes, soft maple will be hard enough to be used in place of hard maple. Maple. The flesh of soft maple trees -- in particular silver and red maple -- resembles that of hard maple, but is … For many applications, soft maple’s hardness is sufficient, and its reduced density generally means it’s easier to work with and machine than hard maple. If the sinus comes to a rounded “U” shape, it is a hard maple. Thanks. While Brown Maple is sometimes referred to as “soft,” it is actually only soft in comparison to Hard Maple. Wood Vendors sells 4/4-8/4 rough lumber, s2s, s4s dimensional soft maple, mouldings and custom panels. Rift Sawn Hard Maple: 1450. I have done this with soft maple and didn’t seem to have the same problem. Recipe for Ferrous Sulfate Solution for Testing Maples. This means that the total volume is 144 cubic inches, since 24 x 8 x .75 = 144. does anyone know if norway maple is a strong wood? Red maple gives a deep, inky blue/black color, while hard maple results in a paler bluish green color. Soft maple exhibits a much narrower range of ray widths, with most being uniformly thin. Bigleaf maple (ambiguous, slightly darker than Hard Maple). These ratings were done using the Janka Hardness Test. It ranks 8 on the scale, but it can also vary depending on where it grows. (This option is obviously only available if you still have access to the living tree, and you are contemplating having it milled into lumber.) Soft Maple (or Red Maple) is not soft, as its name would imply. While some sources recommend a “saturated” solution of ferrous sulfate, this is usually needless—even very small quantities of ferrous sulfate mixed in water are enough to give pronounced reactions. Remember, Volume equals Length x Width x Height: (V = L x W x H). I did not see any mention of sugar content in the different maples listed. Maple comes in two varieties: hard and soft. Ferrous sulfate, sometimes called iron sulfate, may be obtained locally through chemical supply stores, but it is typically only sold in bulk quantities, making such a small project prohibitively expensive. (Bathroom scales with only 1/2 pound increments are usually far too crude a measurement to give reliable results.) That scanned photo of a bigleaf maple leaf looks frighteningly like a Norway maple leaf… The drawing is about right though. It’s possible for soft maple to have tighter growth rings, but it’s much less likely for hard maple to have widely spaced growth rings on the endgrain (3/8″ or more). It was horribly difficult to saw with my cheesy little jigsaw, producing lots of smoke and cutting very slowly and vibrating terribly on curves. Taking the hardness data into consideration with other hardwoods, Brown Maple is slightly easier than Maple to work with when being shaped. The one leaf changing color from Green to yellow! Quarter Sawn Maple: 1450. Soft Maple, also known as Red Maple, is very misleading in name.While the wood is softer than Hard Maple, this is true by only a very small margin. So to convert our board from 3.5 pounds per 144 cubic inches to pounds per cubic foot, we simply multiply both sides by the multiplier we found in our previous step: in this case, it’s 12. Normally a good clean cut with a sharp knife/razor helps this process. green gets the shade,… Read more ». Soft maple is slightly less dense and not as strong. (This is a good rule of thumb, but in reality, all types of maple can have a very broad range of color variation.). Leaves typically have either 5 or 7 lobes, with vivid autumn coloring ranging from yellow to purplish red. > Hardwoods > Sapindaceae > Acer > Related species, (This is a monthly update, and your email will be kept private.). Additionally, it works well with stains and lacquers, so it can also be used on visible wood accents. FYI: I receive a commission on sales generated through links to Amazon, eBay, etc. Comments: Don’t be fooled by the name, most species of soft maple have a hardness and density near black walnut (Juglans nigra) or black cherry (Prunus serotina)—two highly regarded cabinet woods in North America. So our board’s density is 3.5 pounds per 144 cubic inches. The results for each of the maple species are shown in the chart below. There are 1728 cubic inches in a cubic foot, (12 x 12 x 12), so to find our multiplier, we divide the 1728 cubic inches by the 144 cubic inches of our board, and get a multiplier of 12. The soft maple often comes in about 50-75% white sapwood with the remainder being a gray/brown heartwood. It is lower-priced than Hard Maple and … Silver maple—The undersides of the leaves are a pale whitish silver, thus the name silver maple. The Janka test measures the necessary force to embed a .44″ diameter steel ball halfway into a piece of wood. How can I tell the two apart? The woods are very similar but try to run a piece of soft maple through a joiner set for hard maple and the fuzz will tell the tale. If you’re interested in getting all that makes The Wood Database unique distilled into a single, real-world resource, there’s the book that’s based on the website—the Amazon.com best-seller, WOOD! Will soft maple simply collapse like a polystyrene cup as its “soft” name implies? It also indicates the effort required to either nail or saw the particular wood species. A common measurement used to determine relative wood hardness is the Janka Hardness Test. but without stain it is generally blonde and warm brown. Here’s a good example of sheesham without stain. Hard maple, based on simple outward appearances, looks very similar to soft maple, and in general is tough to tell apart in finished pieces. In addition to these two main woods, different species of maple and other lookalikes (such as birch, dogwood, etc.) Bob, I’ve heard the same thing about the Norway Maple on old violins. Hard orb sugar maples have (2.5 to 3.0) sugar which is too sweat to drink. The other one has three wide lobes! Identifying and Using Hundreds of Woods Worldwide, POSTER: Worldwide Woods: Ranked by Hardness, Hard maple tends to be of a lighter, more uniform color, while soft maple tends to be a bit darker, with red, brown, or gray streaks. That leaf was collected when I was out in Seattle. Also what tropical equivalent is to Honduran Mahogany, Rosewood and Ebony?Thanks in advance. What I refer to as the curly maple seems harder than the spalted. Identifying and Using Hundreds of Woods Worldwide, POSTER: Worldwide Woods: Ranked by Hardness. Personally, I avoid soft maple, except for flamed box elder. Copyright © 2008-2020 Eric Meier | All Rights Reserved, WOOD! Identifying and Using Hundreds of Woods Worldwide. All maples can be tapped. RATING: SOFT TO HARD: Douglas Fir: 660: Southern. Identification: Since soft maple is not a distinct species, the information below is for red maple (Acer rubrum) as an example of a typical soft maple species. Spalted Maple: 1450. (For instance, red maple overlaps with both black and hard maple in its density range, so weight alone can’t be used to identify the wood—especially if only one or two small samples are weighed.) Hard Maple Burl: 1450. Maple Hardness and Durability. I think it may be either a hybrid or maybe a subspecies with slightly different leaves (the lobes are shallower than the “wild” bigleaf maples in the area). (Please have a look at The Truth Behind Wood Identification to approach the task in a proper mindset.). Hard maple has one size of ray while soft maple has two. After testing speed of sound and radiation ratio. Maple is the queen of the hardwoods for density. What species of wood is this box? Once the solution is mixed and ready, simply brush a liberal amount onto the wood surface, and wait for a color to develop. Will soft maple simply collapse like a polystyrene cup as its “soft” name implies? Simply weigh the wood in question, and then carefully measure all dimensions to find its total volume. Poplar ranks 540 on the low end of the scale. Soft Maple is less dense than Hard Maple with a similar grain and figure. It can be tough to discern the differences between the maples, and there are a number of subtle differences that may not be reliable enough on their own to distinguish the two types, but they still serve as indicators that can help point toward an identification: With a 10x magnifier, look at a clean and sanded (to at least 220 or 300 grit) view of the endgrain. My best guess from general reports that I’ve read is that Norway Maple lies somewhere in between Red Maple and Hard Maple. See below link for reference. Could you please send me a message if I might be correct in identifying them! Species (Alphabetical) Hardness Species (by Hardness) Hardness. One question to ask on woodworking or home improvement projects is what species of wood to use. Taking the hardness data within context of other hardwoods, soft maple may be used as a valid substitute for hard maple in most situations where a hardwood of moderate density is called for. Soft Maple also exhibits mineral streaking in the wood. There is a baseball field across the street and the front of my house is on the south side of the street… across the field on the next street most houses got Red Maples. It can vary widely depending on how it’s stained, etc. As a violin maker I would like to point out that sycamore maple is a very hard maple in Europe that is not to be confused with American Sycamores which are plane trees, not maples. (And just as citizens of both the east coast and the west coast each like to assert the superiority of their own respective region, there is almost a rivalry between bigfleaf maple advocates on the west coast, and red maple fans on the east coast.). If someone could please get back to me that would be very kind and helpful. The Janka Test was developed as a variation of the Brinell hardness test. Fluorescence: A Secret Weapon in Wood Identification, Bow Woods (from a mathematical perspective), Brazilian Rosewood, East Indian, and Other Rosewoods, Genuine Lignum Vitae and Argentine Lignum Vitae, BOOK: WOOD! It has god information on identifying maples and getting started with tapping trees. The only one that seems to be specifically associated with a species is birdseye: that grain pattern tends to occur almost exclusively on hard maple trees. Hard Maple: 1450. Perhaps you’ve seen a type of lumber for sale known as “soft maple,” and were wondering: what’s the difference between between this Soft Maple and Hard Maple? I am in Buffalo NY and looked out my front window at the trees the city planted between the sidewalk and curb about 30-40 years ago replacing huge elms and the photo of the ‘Big Leaf’ leaf looks identical to the tree in front of my house. Soft Maple is valued for its bright white sapwood and reddish-brown heartwood, and readily receives stains or clear-coat to enhance its natural beauty. Are Rosewoods (and Bubinga) really banned by CITES? AVAILABILITY Readily available. I am from Guyana,South America. Thank you! I would like to know what tropical wood is closely comparable to the maple with the flame patterns as is used in guitar building. Lookalikes/Substitutes: Red maple is more or less indistinguishable from other soft maples such as striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum), however, it can usually be separated from hard maple (A. saccharum)according to techniques in this article. Fluorescence: A Secret Weapon in Wood Identification, Bow Woods (from a mathematical perspective), Brazilian Rosewood, East Indian, and Other Rosewoods, Genuine Lignum Vitae and Argentine Lignum Vitae, BOOK: WOOD! You could have curly maple that’s hard maple, or curly maple that’s soft maple. "Soft maple" is the common term for four species of maple trees: Silver maple (Acer saccharinum), Red maple (Acer rebrum), Boxelder (Acer negundo) and Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum). Soft maple also tends to be softer, lighter weight, weaker and more dingy colored than hard maple. If the sinus comes to a sharp “V” the tree is a hard maple. The mature tree measures about 60 to 90 feet (18 to 27 m) in height and about 30 inches (80 cm) in diameter. Now it may look like hard maple is heads and tails above the rest (and to a certain extent, it is), but for reference, black cherry has a janka hardness of 950 lbf (the same as red maple), and black walnut is rated at 1,010 lbf. i have been told that the great strad violins were made from the norway maples. Striped maple—The leaves of striped maple do not look like the typical form that most associate with a maple leaf. Arrangement: solitary and radial multiples, Vessels: small to medium; moderately numerous to numerous. When attempting to sort out different maple species, it’s important to keep in mind the limitations and obstacles that are present in our task. Ft.-26.54% lighter than red oak (3.58 /bd. Average Dried Weight: 30.2 to 38.0 lbs/ft 3 (485 to 610 kg/m 3) depending on species. If if is a “V” shaped sinus (like red & silver maple), it is a SOFT maple; a “U” shaped sinus (like Sugar, Florida maple), is a HARD maple. Hard maple (1,450 lbf janka) is roughly twice as hard as soft maple (700-950 lbf janka)—primarily because it tends to grow about half as fast as most other soft maple species. The bark of this tree has green, white, and/or brown vertical stripes along the trunk. Soft maple can be used in nearly any piece of furniture you desire. ... Curly Maple (Hard Maple) 1450. The only problem is that we need to convert our measurements to the units that we are trying to find in the chart above: pounds per cubic foot. Basically, you find a crisp edge of the wood, and with your fingernail you try to push in as hard as you can and see if you’re able to make a dent in the wood. No. But these species are far less commonly seen commercially, and they are both so closely related to hard maple that some even consider them to be sub-species of the same tree, classifying them as Acer saccharum subsp. Other hard maples turning pale blue/green: Other soft maples turning pale blue/green (false positives): Under most circumstances, it’s usually possible to determine with a fair degree of certainty whether any given piece of wood is hard or soft maple using all the previous tips; yet it can be nearly impossible to determine the exact species of soft maple just by looking at the wood, or even weighing it. The term “soft maple” is merely used to differentiate these species from hard maple. i make musical insturments&find very little difference in well seasoned red maple and sugar maple. Soft maple species on the East coast (listed in order of commercial prevalence), Hard maple species (none occur on the West coast; listed in order of commercial prevalence). Even if a board is technically from a “soft” maple species from a biological standpoint, if it happens to be as dense as hard maple, then the point is moot (as it will also be as hard as true hard maple as well). Birdseye and hard-rock maple can reach a 9 on the scale. Soft is a relative term, and is only used to differentiate it from hard maple (Acer saccharum). However, there are plenty exceptions to that. Just how soft is it? On the Janka hardness scale -- a scale that ranks wood for hardness, hickory is the hardest of all domestic hardwoods, ranking at 1,820. Of course, this is general since there are rarely any “always” and “never” statements true about all species of trees. See the species listing below for a better breakdown of what to expect. https://www.geigenbauonline.com/violinmaking-The-Making-of-a-Violin.html, Another video I liked (showing the wood): https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0fUixINRBZY#at=116. And which kinds would be used for flooring? Red maple trees have distinctive red flowers, twigs, seeds, and red leaves in the fall. Leaves have deep notches between the lobes which help to tell them apart from the shallower notches of hard maple. Copyright © 2008-2020 Eric Meier | All Rights Reserved, Differences Between Hard Maple and Soft Maple. I have no idea what type of tree etc,just want to feed and treat my beautiful floor thanks. • Generally the sapwood is greyish white, sometimes with darker colored pith flecks. The Janka Test is a measure of the hardness of wood. ), Unlike the task of telling red and white oak apart, sorting between hard and soft maple isn’t quite as clear-cut. It looks like mahogany… Read more ». Identifying and Using Hundreds of Woods Worldwide, https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.cornell.edu/dist/7/5773/files/2019/08/Beginner-Notebook-1st-Edition-1.pdf, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0fUixINRBZY#at=116. A very crude test that you can perform on milled boards before they are put into final use is sometimes called the fingernail test. The test measures the force required to push a steel ball with a diameter of 11.28 millimeters (0.444 inches) into the wood to a depth of half the ball’s diameter. Soft maple is about 25 percent less hard than hard maple, has medium-bending and crushing strength, and is low in stiffness and shock resistance. The main instances where you would want to stick with hard maple would be in applications where hardness and strength are important, such as: butcher blocks, flooring, workbench tops, etc. The less dense red maple has better numbers. Grain patterns also indicate the wood's hardness. In addition, soft maple is slightly easier to work with, and won’t dull cutting edges as quickly, or burn as readily when being shaped as hard maple. Botanical Designation: Not a distinct species of maple. I got it backwards. thanks bob ginn, (This is a monthly update, and your email will be kept private.). Because of their fine, straight grain, both varieties are more stable than many other woods. nigrum. Poplar Wood Vs. Is soft maple a good choice for hand carving kitchen utensils? Hard maple is also known as rock maple or sugar maple, (this is the same tree which is tapped to get maple syrup). explain the different terms of maple; curly, Birdseye , spalted, ambrosia. For a comparison of the physical properties of the different species, please see the complete article entitled: Differences Between Hard Maple and Soft Maple. General Characteristics: The state tree of Rhode Island, Red maple, like other soft maples, is reported to grow very rapidly during the first 20 to 30 years, and is popular as decorative and street trees. Maple Wood. But for what it’s worth, I know that Sycamore Maple has also been used in Europe for the construction of fine violins as well. It’s just beginning to change color to a very light yellow!