Maple

Other commercial names Sycamore maple | Norway maple
Botanical Name Acer pseudoplatanus L. | Acer platanoides

Historical and cultural information
Up to the modern days, maple has been used to manufacture spoons, cups, plates and bowls that have been used by many populations as containers for food and drinks. The wood is not dried and is well suited for turning, an ancient type of machining: however, given the low durability of this wood, not many ancient artefacts remain.

General information
Among native species, only sycamore maple and Norway maple are of interest in the forest and wood industry. Maple grows in mixed woodland and agricultural land, so the majority of these types of maple is not to be found in forests used for timber production, where they represent a mere 1%. Initial growth is very quick. Sycamore maple can live up to 500 years while Norway maple lives max 150 years. Sycamore maple is felled from 0.4m diameter up since unwanted discoloration may occur at larger dimensions.

Characteristics
At a macroscopic level, the limits of the different growth areas are often highlighted in mature wood by thin dark parts with distinct edges. Among our woods, sycamore maple is one of the lightest. When exposed to light, it turns brownish-yellow in colour. In older plants the heartwood can be differentiated. Despite base colouring being nearly white, wood coming from the same log can show light and dark contrasts due to different light reflection; this can be noticed in particular on veneering. This is caused by the different orientation of fibres on the shear plane. The pinkish or pale brown lines of the numerous rays that brighten the pattern of the wood are visible to the naked eye on tangential planes. The pattern on radial surfaces is characterized, again, by rays, similar to those of beech, but smaller. A wavy grain is frequently found in all types of maple. This creates a particular optical effect of striped texture. The rich bird’s eye texture can be only found in the sugar maple.

Properties
The sycamore maple is slightly lighter than the Norway maple, 590 kg/m3 dry density against 620 kg/m3 respectively. Brinell hardness is between 27 and 29 N/mm2. This wood is difficult to cut through and processing is problematic. All maple woods can be cut and peeled easily, bend resistance is good with straight grain. Sycamore maple, in particular, is suitable for shaping, turning, perforating and carving. Its wood can be successfully impregnated and can undergo all processes of surface treatment. During the drying phase it is advisable to avoid keeping humidity at high temperatures for long as this can cause unwanted discoloration. Cut wood must be stacked using thin strips leaving sufficient empty space to allow good ventilation of the stack. Maple wood is not durable(durability class 5), it is suitably impregnable and is subject to woodworm(Anobium).

Use
Maple wood is suitable for all decorative veneers, rotary cut veneers (plywood), furniture, flooring (parquets and boards) and steps. It is used for making wind musical instruments and for the back of string instruments. Maple wood is also used for children toys, kitchenware (spoons, chopping boards etc), carving and sculptures.