Is Maple Good for Carving? All You Need To Know!

Is Maple good for carving

Maple wood is one of the most popular hardwoods on the planet. It is used for high-end furniture, cabinetry, flowing, and kitchen accessories. I have made so many woodworks with Maple wood.

But when it comes to woodcarving, I have always wondered, Is Maple good for carving?

I decided to check it out and here’s what I’ve discovered:

Maple wood is an excellent wood for carving. Maple has a fine texture with straight grain and can be a beautiful wood for many different patterns of carving. But Maple wood is can be difficult to carve with limited tools because of its high hardness and high density.

But there’s a lot more to know about Maple wood carving.

So, in this article, we’ll walk you through is Maple good for carving, why Maple is hard to carve, properties of Maple wood that are important in carving, Hand carving, chainsaw carving of Maple wood, and many more.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about carving with Maple wood with pros and cons as well.

So, let’s jump in!

Is Maple Hard to Carve?

Carving Maple wood is not hard when you have enough tools and they’re sharpened well. Maple wood is hard and dense.

Therefore, carving Maple wood can be difficult for beginners with limited carving tools.

Overall, Maple wood is pretty with straight grain with wavy potential and with a uniformly fine texture.

Carving soft Maple is so much easier than carving hard Maple (Sugar Maple) because soft Maple is less in hardness and density than hard Maple.

Softwoods are easier to carve than hardwood.

So, according to the Janka hardness ratings which are used to measure hardness levels of different woods

  • Hard Maple has a hardness rating of 1,450 lbf (6,450 N)
  • Soft Maple has a hardness rating of 950 lbf (4,226 N)

As you can see according to the Janka hardness ratings hard Maple is significantly harder and denser than soft Maple.

Therefore, carving with soft Maple is so much easier than carving with hard Maple.

In the wood carving world, Basswood is known as one of the most softwood that is easiest to carve.

Basswood has a Janka hardness rating of 410 lbf (1,824 N). As you can see when the wood becomes soft, it is much easier to carve.

Even though soft Maple is no way near to the hardness of Basswood, it has some significant qualities that will give great wood carving results.

However, I recommend you begin the carving project with Maple wood with a sufficient well-sharpened toolset.

If you’re a beginner in wood carving it’s better to start with a softwood like a Basswood, Cedar than directly starting with a hardwood like a Maple to get better results with learning.

Because even the soft Maple is hard to carve for especially if you’re a beginner due to lack of practice.

Maple Wood Properties That Are Important in Wood Carving

1. Durable and Long-lasting

Maple wood is a strong hardwood with excellent resistance to environmental elements like insect attacks, moisture, and many more.

Maple wood carvings don’t dent so easily and have excellent durability. Therefore, wood carvings made from Maple wood will easily last more than a decade if you keep them clean and properly maintain regularly by applying a quality finisher.

No other softwoods are more durable than Maple wood and it is excellent for huge wood carving projects as well.

2. Beautiful appearance

Maple wood comes in a range of warm colors, and you can pick one as your wish.

Reds, neutral beiges, chromatic grays, and browns are popular shades of Maple that decorate your beautiful wood carving creation.

Maple wood takes stain so well. Therefore, if you want to add dark color to carvings, you just need to pick and apply a dark stain on top of it.

Plus, the carvings made from Maple wood dry quickly and result in a nice and smooth appearance.

3. Affordability

Maple wood is an affordable hardwood that is used for carvings. Normally hardwoods are expensive and unable to carve due to high density.

But Maple wood is able to manage both factors by providing affordable wood with good carving capabilities.

4. Safe and cause no Allergies

Maple wood is 100% safe for woodcarving. You don’t have to worry about touching and handling Maple wood with bare hands.

It doesn’t cause skin irritations or respiratory problems like some other wood types.

Spoons, bowls, and many other kitchen utensils can carve using Maple wood and they can use apart from decorative purposes because Maple is a non-toxic food-safe wood.

Nowadays baby toys are also carved using Maple wood because of their safety factor.

Is Maple Good for Chainsaw Carving?

Maple wood is excellent for chainsaw carving. With a chainsaw, you don’t need to worry about tearing up the wood when carving. The grain of the Maple wood makes chainsaw carvings so attractive.

So, always make sure to carve along the direction of the wood grain for better results.

Normally softwoods work better than hardwoods with chainsaws because softwoods yield to creative impulses with a small kickback.

But surprisingly Maple wood carves beautiful things with the chainsaw.

Because of the durability and hardness of Maple wood, chainsaw carving of Maple wood is able to carve huge things which are nice in spite of having been dead for decades.

I have carved huge woodcarving projects by Maple using chainsaw that finished with epoxy coating and polyurethane coating for better protection.

Soft Maple (Silver Maple) is great for chainsaw carving than hard Maple (Sugar Maple) because of its less hardness and high resistance to prone.

Is Maple Good for Hand Carving?

Maple is not good for hand carving. Mallet or power carving is recommended with Maple wood.

Carving Maple wood with hand carving tools is possible but difficult due to the high hardness of the wood.

The woodcarving tools must be sharp and only an experienced woodcarver can hand carve Maple wood in the right way. Because the grain pattern of Maple wood is not straight always.

Some hard Maple species create a tendency to blotch when they’re finished and display various densities with variations in different parts of the wood when the wood is carving.

On those occasions, splits and cracks can possibly happen and you’ll have to make cuts sharp and carefully.

As wilder the wood grain becomes, it is harder to carve especially with hand carving tools.

This is why you should be experienced before carving Maple wood with hand carving tools.

Is Maple Good for Spoon Carving?

Maple is great for spoon carving. Hardwoods are not very porous and have a fine grain that will be more durable, resist moisture, and stain well. Therefore, spoon carving with hardwoods like Maple is good.

The handle of the spoon should be thick and dense. So, if you use softwood for that task, the spoon lacks the strength.

By using Maple hardwood you’ll be able to make a deep serving spoon with a thin design.

Plus, Maple has no toxicity, and it is food-safe. Therefore, Maple is popular for carving kitchen utensils like a spoon.

Both Silver Maple (Soft Maple) and Sugar Maple (Hard Maple) are great to carve a spoon. But soft Maple is better because of its less hardness than hard Maple.

Even though Silver Maple is not really a softwood, it carves the spoon perfectly with a sweet unique scent with a gorgeous grain pattern.

At the end of the process, it will make a strong attractive spoon as you wish.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Maple Wood for Carving

High durabilityProne to cracks
Easy to sand and finishSensitive to heat and humidity
Great appearanceFades over time
AffordableDifficult to carve using hand tools
Eco friendlyCarving tools need to be sharpened well
Easy to maintain 
Dust resistant 

As you can see, there’re lots of advantages of Maple wood for carving, and disadvantages can easily eliminate by practice and using power carving methods.

Alternative Wood Types for Carving?

Being hard and dense is the only drawback of Maple wood which makes it really hard to carve.

Here’re some popular wood types that can replace Maple wood for carving.

  1. Basswood
  2. Pine
  3. Black walnut
  4. Paper birch
  5. Butternut
  6. Cherry
  7. Red oak
  8. Mahogany

Sometimes, when the wood is too soft, it can be full less resistant to environmental elements like moisture, bugs attacks.

Also when the wood is too hard, it can be full of knots. So, it’s better to go with neutral wood options which are easier to carve while having good durability.

With practice, you’ll be able to carve any wood type in the world without any hesitation because when you’re pro at the game you just have made little adjustments according to the type of the wood and that comes naturally comes in handy.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about is Maple good for carving.

Is Sugar Maple Good for Carving?

Sugar Maple (Hard Maple) is a great wood to carve. but you should have well-sharpened carving tools and a lot of practice to carve Sugar Maple due to its high hardness and density.

Chainsaw carvings are power carving is excellent woods to carve Sugar Maple.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, Sugar Maple has a hardness rating of 1,450 lbf (6,450 N) which is a little bit too much for small woodcarving projects.

But for huge projects, Sugar Maple is a great option to go with.

Personally, I don’t recommend beginners to carve using Sugar Maple because of its difficulties to carve and less user-friendliness.

You can learn lots of new things and carving techniques by going for softwood like Basswood then sticking on to hardwood like Sugar Maple. Carving Sugar Maple need lots of patience and practice.

Is Soft Maple Good for Carving?

Soft Maple (Silver Maple) is an excellent wood to carve. according to the Janka hardness ratings, soft Maple has a hardness rating of 950 lbf (4,226 N) which is softer than hard Maple.

Therefore, carving is a lot easier with soft Maple than going for hard Maple.

Being less hard and dense than hard Maple is a plus point for soft Maple.

Because even though soft Maple is named as soft, it also has a great amount of strength and hardness that are pretty much useful in woodcarving.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Maple Good for Carving?

In this article we have deeply talked about is Maple good for carving and why Maple is hard to carve.

We have gone through properties of Maple wood that are important in wood carving, hand carving with Maple wood, and chainsaw carving with Maple wood with its pros and cons.

Maple wood is considered one of the best woods to carve. but you need lots of practice to deal with Maple because of its high hardness and density. Other than that, it is an exceptional wood with lots of great qualities.

So, I think you have gained good knowledge about is Maple good for carving and how it can be used to carve various wood carving applications.

So, let’s begin your next woodcarving project with Maple wood with practice and practice. Have fun carving!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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