Can You Carve Maple

There are thousands of tree species that make carving possible and therapeutic and today we are going to talk about maple. can you cut maple? Carving has grown in popularity over the years and a lot of people are practicing this craft. As an experienced carver or beginner, it is important to know and understand different types of trees and what makes them easy or hard to carve.

Maple trees are hardwoods common in woodworking having approximately 136 species. Maple is classified into two groups which are hard maple and soft maple. To avoid confusion, you should know that all species of maple are considered hardwoods, and the difference comes in when you are referring to lumber. Maples lumber has two categories which are hardwood and softwood.

Hard maple refers to one specific type of maple which is Acer Saccharum and it is mainly known as the sugar maple or rock maple. There are two species that are sometimes grouped as hard maple and they are; black maple and Florida maple. They are closely related to sugar maple but are less common in the market.

Soft maple on the other hand does not refer to only one species of maple, rather it includes several different species of maple. Soft maple is softer than hard maple as the name suggests. Some of the common soft maples in the market are; bigleaf maple, box elder, silver maple, and striped maple. Soft maple is the

Maple lumber comes with a lot of variety to choose from for carving. Some of the causes that affect this variety are; how the wood grows, how it is cut, how it is stored and how it is dried.

These varieties are; Birds Eye Maple, Curly Maple, Quilted Maple, and clear or white maple.

Different Maple Varieties

There are two sections of wood namely, the sapwood and the heartwood. The heartwood is the inner part of the wood and the sapwood is the outermost part of the wood. Maple tends to have longer sapwood compared to the other trees.

White Maple

White maple is very beautiful-looking lumber. It is the brightest variety of the maple family having a near-white color with a trace of reddish-brown. It also has a smooth texture with a straight to the wavy grain pattern.

White maple may contain dark mineral steaks that are absorbed by mineral absorption from the soil.

Birds Eye Maple

The bird’s eye maple is one of the rare varieties of maple and my second most beautiful variety of maple and you will find this variety mostly on the hard maple.

The name bird’s eye comes from the tiny knots in the grain that resemble birds’ eyes. The bird’s eye maple variety is caused by unfavorable growing conditions for the tree and the reason for the eyes is the tree attempting to start numerous new buds to get more sunlight. But with the growth conditions being poor, the new shoots are aborted leaving tiny knots.

Bird’s eye maple is largely sold in veneer compared to lumber.

Curly Maple

Curly maple is the third most beautiful variety on my list maple has to offer. It has different names and I think it is because this variety can be found in all maple species. Curly maple is also known as fiddle back maple, tiger maple, flamed maple, and rippled maple.

The curls run across the grain and it is a very good choice to choose when carving for the aesthetic appearance. The grade of the curly maple differ depending on the climate of the environment.

Quilted Maple

Quilted maple is the best variety of maple on my list and the name comes from quilts fabric due to the resemblance of the patchwork patterns.

There are varying grades of quilted maple, based upon the perceived depth of the quilt, as well as the purity of color of the wood itself. This variety is very expensive and they are commonly dyed in different colors to give an “electric” effect to the grain pattern.

Methods For Carving Maple

There are various methods of carving to approach maple. One of them is whittling. Whittling is the use of only hand tools. Whittling maple is not suitable for beginners because it will slow their rate of learning. But there are always ways to hack the system. If maple is the only lumber available in your area, you can soften it before carving.

Another method to carve maple is chainsaw carving and this is one of my best methods of carving. With chainsaw carving, no wood is too tough to carve. Another unique advantage of chainsaw carving is that it does not limit you on the size you want your carving to be.

The use of power tools is another method to use when you want to carve maple. Power tools are like hand tools that are powered by a motor that uses electricity or batteries as a power source. With the different varieties of maple, there are a lot of pattern ideas you can come up with. Power tools make work easier and allow you to carve the tiniest details

Tips For Finishing Maple

All types of maple accept finishes well. Avoid using grits finer than 220, and if you must, be mindful because it can burnish the wood and make it difficult to stain. With sugar maple, darkens over time and develops a color close to maple syrup.

To maintain the color of maple, use a clear coat of water-based finish to lift the grain and be sure to damp-sponge the wood. Sand your maple carving between the coats.

To give maple a vintage look, you can dye it with varnish or oil mix. But before applying the two finishes, stain your carving with the dye of your choice and wait for it to dry after you have damp-sponged your wood. in this case, it is okay to sand your carving with a finer grit, and after, remove the dust and apply the varnish or oil blend then wipe off the excess.


I hope I have been of help to anyone who was wondering “can you carve maple?” The beauty about this species of tree is the different varieties of lumber it can produce and you can use its lumber to carve different sculptures and decorations. Maple is a very good wood to use when you want to gift someone special with a carving.

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