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Soft maple is a solid seller while the prices rise

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Soft maple sales are surging in the face of rising prices, according to hardwood dealers interviewed by Woodshop News.

“Maple has really stayed true and is one of the most solid sellers that we have,” reports Dave Norman of Parkerville Wood Products in Manchester, Conn. “Both hard and soft both are under a huge supply demand. Paint grade is definitely in right now, so soft maple’s definitely gone up in the past couple years as far as the desire to use it and prices are skyrocketing across the board on everything. This market is crazy. We’ve never seen anything like it.”

Norman says soft maple purchased from mills has increased approximately 20 percent in the past year and there’s speculation the increase will continue at the same rate for the next few months. It’s also getting more difficult to get desired lengths and widths of the species, forcing some sales to be put on back order. In April, Parkerville’s 4/4 soft maple cost around $5.20/bf, slowly closing the gap of hard maple selling at approximately $5.95/bf.

“There’s not as much difference in price as there used to be between soft and hard maple. They’ve gotten a little closer where it used to be a couple dollar difference. What we try to tell people is to plan accordingly, to give us a couple weeks on the lead time and buffer in because we can only hold the price about seven days.”

Scott Limone of Keiver-Willard Lumber in Newburyport, Mass. gives similar advice.

“I gave some of our customers who use it regularly a heads up that we’re seeing some pricing increases from the mills and the ones that did definitely benefitted. The demand is definitely there. We’ve been really busy. People who need paint grade want it. The hard maple demand is up, too, for people making butcher blocks, tabletops and things like that,” says Limone.

Bruce Stevens of Highland Hardwoods in Brentwood, N.H. also sees a strong demand for soft maple even with higher prices but says that goes for just about everything.

“It still seems like everything in kitchen cabinets today is painted white. Soft maple is easy to finish and works easier with tooling so that’s the major focus species wise for painted kitchens,” says Stevens.

“People are buying everything no matter what the price is, it seems. I think sometime over the late summer the pipeline will refill but last year the hardwood production was off 50 percent which didn’t make a lot of difference because a lot of people were closed or had limited help during the pandemic. Now, everybody’s back full speed and it’s just going to take a while to refill that material.” 

This article was originally published in the June 2021 issue.

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