Few can dispute that hard maple is an all-around classic hardwood suitable for many projects small and large, and its current popularity has a lot to do with its excellent price/performance ratio. Hardwood dealers interviewed by Woodshop News say its price for what it delivers further builds on its qualities and working properties in general.
Doug Grove of Groff and Groff Lumber in Quarryville, Pa. says customers are going with hard maple over soft maple because of price.
“We sell a good bit of it, but I think the reason it became more popular is because the soft maple prices were starting to go up,” says Grove. “Cabinetmakers are making pennies on the dollar when they’re mass manufacturing cabinets so anytime they can get a little better price on something they’re going to try to lean that way.”
Clint Dillon of Steve Wall Lumber in Mayodan, N.C. says hard maple has always been one of the company’s top five sellers, and that both availability and price have remained stable.
“For the most part, we sell a lot of hard maple lumber and plywood for cabinetry. Ours is a clear white hard maple so there are no knots or dark parts. It’s just white. Most people want to put a clear finish on hard maple. The other thing people like about it is it’s pretty dense, so it holds up. It’s very durable,” says Wall.
David Norman of Parkerville Wood Products in Manchester, Conn. says hard maple is always in demand, particularly before the holidays to make cutting boards as gifts.
“There’s always a demand for a combination of hard maple and soft maple. A lot of people like soft maple for painting and hard maple for when they’re doing their other projects, whether it be a clear grade or stain grade. But we’re seeing a lot of hard maple in moldings, cabinets, flooring and tabletops. It’s still probably one of the top four woods that we sell. Most people are pretty familiar with it and they know it’s pretty durable,” says Norman.
“A lot of our customers like it because it’s been traditionally used for butcher block countertops or cutting boards. We have a lot of woodworkers or hobbyist woodworkers that love to make cutting boards or cheese boards, so the go-to is hard maple. Sometimes they’ll compliment it with little strips of exotic woods like bloodwood or canary wood.”
Hard maple (4/4, Select & Better) was selling for about $3.60/bf in September, according to hardwood dealers interviewed by Woodshop News.
This article was originally published in the November 2020 issue.