Both hard and soft maple are steady movers, according to lumber suppliers interviewed by Woodshop News. Interest is particularly strong for highly figured and slab stock.
“Winter is typically the season when maple gets cut because if you cut it in the summer months, you risk spoilage with the warmer temperatures. It oxidizes and you lose color,” says Alan Zablonski of Berkshire Products in Sheffield, Mass. “There’s plenty of maple out there now in hard and soft. The low grades are moving a little slower, but the upper grades are strong.”
“I’d say it’s been pretty steady,” adds Leroy Mast of Kiem Lumber in Millersburg, Ohio. “It’s been picking up now since the [Great Recession] when everything went down. It’s been improving.
“We’re pretty dedicated to people using great big wide boards for tabletops, bar tops and similar things. Customers want the ‘live edge’ look and they’re specifying big-leaf maple because you can get it with a lot of figure in it.”
Clint Dillon of the Steve Wall Lumber Co. in Mayodan, N.C., says that while hard and soft maple sales have remained steady, he’s seen an increase in demand for figured and ambrosia maple.
“We sell a bunch of soft maple and hard maple to our cabinet-shop people who are generally doing odds and ends, but the figured maple and ambrosia maple has spiked up a little in demand due to people wanting something that’s going to stand out and have sort of a pizzazz to it when they make a tabletop or jewelry box or something like that,” he says.
“I think people now want something that really stands out nowadays. There used to be a time where everybody just wanted cherry and walnut and things like that and those sales are still good, but people just want something different. Ambrosia maple used to be considered odd and got thrown out, but now people are finding a use for it.”
Prices haven’t changed much recently, with 4/4 FAS hard maple retailing for about $5.25/bf nationally. The same size and grade of soft maple is selling for about $4.50/bf.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue.