Soft maple for table top?

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agrieco

anthony
Corporate Member
I'm looking at a dining table project and am in the process of wood selection. Going to use a dark stain (most likely 'black' General Finishes Gel stain- https://generalfinishes.com/wood-finishes-retail/oil-based-wood-stains-sealers/oil-based-gel-stains).

I'm trying to balance wood expense vs durability vs the finish choice. Because the table top will be 8/4 and approx 9 ft long, lumber costs get expensive quick.

Given all this, I've been considering Soft Maple (from Hardwood Store) for this project but am concerned about its durability. Anyone have experience/opinions on how well a soft maple table top holds up? This will be for home use.

thanks
 

Canuck

Wayne
Corporate Member
Regarding your finish schedule. I have used a lot of the GF Java stain on pieces (primarily red oak). Very pleased with the results.

Important to wipe off the excess between coats (until you want the color you are looking for. I then apply a couple of coats of clear dewaxed shellac. Lightly sand and then topcoat with a couple of coats of GF clear satin High Performance.

Wayne
 

TENdriver

New User
TENdriver
The hardwood store also lists Ash, which is nearly as hard (Janka) as hard maple. It’s good for spans (9’ table) and perhaps a touch lower weight for an 8/4 top.


If you’re going for a very dark color, you may want to consider a dye under your stain.


BTW, 8/4 is an incredibly thick top for a table. Some types of work benches aren’t much thicker. Is there something inherent to the design that you need a thicker top?
 

Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
.... I'm trying to balance wood expense vs durability vs the finish choice. Because the table top will be 8/4 and approx 9 ft long, lumber costs get expensive quick. ...
Rather than a full top at 2" thick, consider doubling up the edges and ends, but having most of the table at 'just' 1" thick.
Here's a link to a thread describing how I did that - https://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/showthread.php?t=63771&highlight=padauk+table

I expect that others have better methods, or descriptions. This takes some work, especially if you are trying to grain match. But the time spent was well worth for me on this table. I could buy a single piece large enough for the table top in 4/4 material, but only narrow boards in 8/4.

Worth considering - and I'd be happy to answer any questions that you might have (again, I expect others with more experience might choose somewhat different methods for the same effect).
 

marinosr

Richard
Senior User
Yeah a 8/4 table top 9'x3' would weigh ~173 lb in red maple. That would be a very unwieldy table, and the base would be very heavy also to support it and not look scrawny.
 

agrieco

anthony
Corporate Member
thanks you all for the suggestions. I'll definitely give them a look (both on the design side, as well as the comment about dye).
 

chris_goris

Chris
Senior User
Soft maple is not soft, it's only soft when compared to hard maple. In terms of durability, it's in the same range as cherry or walnut. This article may be helpful -> https://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/differences-between-hard-maple-and-soft-maple/

The quality of the finish is at least as important as the species, so don't skimp on that.
I agree with Bas and "soft" maple is wonderful to work with. The wood species choice depends on the ultimate appearance youd like at the end typically.
 
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