Hard Maple vs. Soft Maple: Which is Better for DIY Metal Legs?

When it comes to crafting metal legs for your DIY projects, choosing the right type of wood is essential. While there are numerous wood species available, Hard Maple and Soft Maple often stand out as popular options. But which one is better suited for your DIY metal legs? Let's explore the characteristics of each and help you make an informed decision.

What are the Common Uses of Maple Wood?

Maple wood is commonly used in high-end furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and kitchen accessories. Because of its durability and strength, maple can be found used as flooring in bowling alleys and for bowling pins. It was also once a popular choice for wood baseball bats before being largely replaced by ash, which is equally as strong but more lightweight.

Its unique color, smooth grain, and strength make maple a popular choice among woodworkers of all types. In its natural state, it can totally brighten a room, yet stained maple looks equally gorgeous and can be dressed up to suit any preferred style. Maple wood also tends to get chosen when durability is a concern because it can take a beating.

What Does the Grain Pattern of Maple Wood Look Like?

Maple wood has a fine, uniform texture with generally straight grain, but variations such as birdseye, tiger, flame, curly, wavy, rippled are often selected for specialty custom artisan furniture. When the grain has added character like this, it’s referred to as “figured.” Figured wood usually results from some kind of strain, injury, or disease in the tree as it grows.

maple wood

Sugar Maple Spalted Wood Grain Pattern

white curly maple wood

White curly maple

How to Care for Maple Wood Furniture

The care guidelines for maple wood furniture are mostly dependent on the type of finish used to seal the wood. Because maple wood has such tightly knit grain, it doesn’t absorb oil finishes as well as other furniture hardwoods. Oil finishes also tend to cause maple to yellow slightly over time. For this reason, maple furniture is often finished with a lacquer or varnish. These finishes are low maintenance and generally carefree.

Maple Stains and Wood Finishes

Maple is beautiful in its natural state, as the grain, pitch flecks, and mineral deposits add authentic character to a piece. That said, it can easily be stained with many different hues to suit any preferred style or decor.

What’s the Difference Between Hard Maple and Soft Maple?

The term “soft maple” is used as an umbrella term to describe several different species of maple trees. “Hard maple”, on the other hand, refers to lumber that comes from the species acer saccharum and is synonymous with “sugar maple”. Besides acer saccharum, the only other species in the maple family which is sometimes referred to as hard maple is the Black Maple (acer nigrum). In fact, the two species are so similar that some consider the black maple a subspecies of acer saccharum.

Both hard maple and soft maple are harvested from dicot trees, so both types are technically hardwoods.

Hard maple, or sugar maple, is the most durable of the maple species with a janka value of 1,450, which makes it one of the hardest domestic woods used in furniture making.

There are many varieties of soft maple wood, though the most common are striped maple, silver maple, red maple, bigleaf maple, and box elder. Although called “soft maple,” it’s really only about 25% softer than hard maple wood and is still harder than wood from a Douglas fir, southern yellow pine, or California redwood.

Hard Maple: Strength and Durability

Hard Maple, scientifically known as Acer saccharum, is renowned for its exceptional strength and durability. This hardwood variety is known for its tight grain pattern, which lends itself well to the construction of sturdy and long-lasting metal legs. Hard Maple boasts impressive density and resistance to wear and tear, making it a reliable choice for heavy-duty applications.

The strength of Hard Maple ensures that your metal legs can support significant weight without compromising stability. Whether you're creating a dining table, desk, or any other furniture piece, Hard Maple provides the structural integrity needed for reliable support.

Furthermore, Hard Maple possesses a light, pale color with subtle variations, making it an attractive choice for those seeking a clean and contemporary aesthetic. Its smooth surface allows for easy finishing and staining, enabling you to achieve the desired look for your metal legs.

Soft Maple: Versatility and Affordability

Contrary to its name, Soft Maple (Acer rubrum) is not necessarily softer than Hard Maple. Soft Maple encompasses several species of maple trees, including Red Maple, Silver Maple, and Bigleaf Maple. While Soft Maple is generally less dense than Hard Maple, it still offers considerable strength and stability for many DIY applications.

One advantage of Soft Maple is its versatility. It is relatively easier to work with, making it a popular choice for woodworking projects, including crafting metal legs. Its lower density allows for easier shaping and carving, which can be advantageous if you plan to incorporate intricate designs or details into your metal legs.

Soft Maple also presents a range of colors, from pale cream to reddish-brown, offering flexibility in achieving various aesthetics. It accepts stains and finishes well, providing opportunities for customization to match your desired style.

In addition, Soft Maple tends to be more affordable compared to Hard Maple, making it a budget-friendly option for DIYers

5 Metal Legs Styles to go with Maple Table

1. Lithe Single Legs With Maple Burl Table Top

Pedestal Base for Round Maple Tables

2. Dentro Single Base for Dining Maple Table

Pedestal Base for Heavy Maple Table

3. Akro Metal Legs for Counter Height Maple Table

Contemporary Metal Legs for Counter Height Maple Table

4. Xeni Metal Legs for River Table using Maple wood

Steel Table Legs for Maple River Tables

5. Yami Metal Legs for Maple Coffee Table

Steel Table Legs for Maple Coffee Tables

We're furniture manufacturers based in California and sell customizable metal table legs and bases, including farmhouse table legs, coffee table legs, dining table legs, metal table bases, wishbone table bases, pedestal table bases and more.

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