The silver maple is a beautiful tree that’s a fast-growing native of eastern North America. In early spring, the tree produces brilliantly colored flowers that add to its aesthetic. The upper surface is bright green, while the lower surface is silvery-white.
That’s enough detail about the silver maple tree. What about its wood? Is silver maple wood good for anything?
Silver maple wood has various uses due to its fairly hard nature and easy workability. It’s perfect for cabinetry, woodturning, musical instruments, tool handles, wagons, carts, and rails.
Woodworkers find silver maple excellent to work with. Its grain is generally straight. In some instances, the grain is wavy. It can also exhibit curly or quilted grain patterns. Silver maple wood has a fine, even texture to add to the amazing features.
Interesting details aside, how about I take you through some riveting facts about this wood?
Is Silver Maple Wood Softwood or Hardwood?
Silver maple falls in the category of soft maples. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s hardwood. It may be softer than hard maple, but it still fits well within hardwoods of moderate density.
Besides, the leaves of the silver maple are deciduous, which is a common hardwood characteristic. It also thrives in zone 3-9 in the USDA Hardiness Zone Map.
Silver maple is not as strong as other maple varieties like red maple. Silver maple weighs about 529 kilograms per cubic meter. On the other hand, red maple weighs around 609 kilograms per cubic meter.
With this hardness data in mind, soft maple can easily substitute hard maple within the context of other hardwoods.
What is the Grain and Color of Silver Maple Wood?
Mature silver maples have a flaky gray bark. When they are young, they are gray but smooth. What makes its wood stand out is the straightness of the grain. In some cases, the grain is wavy, and patterns can be quilted or curly.
The texture of the wood is fine and even. I cannot fail to mention the sapwood, which people prefer more than the heartwood. The sapwood color ranges from nearly white to a light golden or reddish-brown. The heartwood tends to be more on the darker side.
When checking the end grain, the growth rings on silver maple wood are commonly lighter in color, therefore, less distinct.
How Dense is Silver Maple Wood?
According to the United States hardwood index, silver maple wood falls under medium-density hardwoods. After drying and seasoning, silver maple wood weighs 529 kilograms per cubic meter.
This weight is after 20% moisture content loss. Silver maple wood weighs up to 721 kilograms per cubic meter when green.
How Workable is Silver Maple Wood?
Woodworkers prefer wood that withstands both hand and machine tools. Silver maple wood does fairly well but tends to burn when using tools such as routers or high-speed cutters.
That aside, the wood turns, glues, and finishes well. When staining, you have to be careful because blotches can occur. I would advise you to use a pre-conditioner, toner, or gel stain to get an even color and perfect finish.
Since the wood is somewhat soft, there’s some tension (as found in leaning trees). Tension wood, like silver maple, tends to fuzz when using machines.
How Much Does Silver Maple Wood Cost?
Silver maple wood does not fetch as much as its harder counterparts, unlike hard maples. Hardwoods such as oaks are highly-priced. If you buy silver maple wood from a miller, expect moderate prices.
Pieces that have curly or quilted grain go for a higher price. Probably because they are more aesthetically pleasing.
A great disadvantage is that silver maples are commonly grown in backyards. That makes the wood too readily available on the eastern side of North America.
A board size 5/8” x 3-5/16” x 29-13/16” costs around $9.
Is Silver Maple Wood Toxic?
Most hardwoods are not toxic. However, everyone is different. Some individuals present allergic reactions to maple trees. The good news is it has no characteristic smell.
Some woodworkers report skin irritation and a runny nose when working on silver maple wood. More adverse effects include asthma-like respiratory symptoms. Woodworkers must wear protective gear such as masks and gloves while dealing with wood.
However, if you notice allergic reactions to silver maple wood, it is best to avoid it altogether.
How Sustainable Is Silver Maple Wood?
Unfortunately, silver maple wood is not very sustainable. Compared to other hardwoods, this wood is prone to insect attack, especially by the Columbian timber beetle.
On top of that, the durability of silver maple wood is on the lower side. This wood has a mediocre resistance to decay.
How Well Can You Use Silver Maple Wood for Furniture?
The soft nature of silver maple wood makes it less suitable for making furniture than hard maple varieties. It is relatively lighter and cannot withstand a lot of use.
On the flipside, silver maple wood is harder than pine wood. Pine wood makes furniture pieces too, so it wouldn’t hurt to try. The golden yellow color and grey streaks also give silver maple wood a beautiful finish.
Depending on what furniture you want to make, these elements can make a brilliant design or an eyesore. Use silver maple wood to make tool handles, wagons, crates, and rails to be on the safe side.
Is Silver Maple Wood Good for Smoking?
In general, maple wood is excellent for smoking meats. It produces a mildly sweet, medium smoky taste.
If you prefer a less sweet taste on your chicken, beef, pork, or vegetables, go for silver maple wood. It complements their natural flavor and does not add too much sweetness. Mix silver maple wood with oak or hickory to add a smoky element.
Can You Burn Silver Maple Wood?
Silver maple wood is available all over eastern North America. Because of its high availability, many people use it more in their wood furnaces or fireplaces.
Additionally, the wood produces a hot fire (though it is difficult to split). Silver maple wood produces about 17 million BTUs (British Thermal Units) per cord.
The general range of BTU output is 30,000 to 100,000. That should tell you how hot a silver maple wood fire is.