Best use for maple and madrone? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 06-29-2020, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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Best use for maple and madrone?

Hello everyone,

Iím having a large maple and madrone removed and would like to incorporate both into a timber frame cabin Iím building on the property. I was thinking of maple for the cabinets and possibly the structural braces (the frame will be Douglas fir). The madrone is large enough for live edge countertops in the kitchen and baths.

Where or how else might I use the wood? The maple is 36Ē so thereís potentially enough for flooring. I can handle the cabinet-sized, rough-cut maple myself but would need to have the madrone and flooring milled. Does this use of the wood make financial sense if I canít process it myself?

Iím open to suggestions. They say both make great firewood but that seems like such a waste.

Thanks,
Nick
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post #2 of 12 Old 07-01-2020, 08:03 PM
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Firewood would be a terrible waste of good hardwood, for sure. I don't know what species of maple it is, but maple can generally be used for ANYTHING interior. Whether it is financially feasible all depends on the comparison between what it costs to get it to usable lumber, and what you could buy it for from a dealer.



Madrone, on the other hand, is not something you can typically walk into any hardwood store and obtain. It is not in common use for cabinets or furniture, but is more a specialty species. For starters, it is known for twisting while drying. To dry it successfully, you must do so very slowly, and it should be well stickered and weighted down. I know a guy locally who does very well with it, but others who split it so badly it's, IMO, unusable. But if you can accomplish that task, it is a hard and beautiful wood.



I don't know where you are located, but if you have a madrone, I am guessing that you may be in the pacific northwest. If so, then there is a good chance that your maple is a broad leaf maple, or western maple. If it is, and if the wood inside is figured, then it may be a very expensive lumber to buy, depending on the figure and how much of it there is. Here is a link to a place near me that sells it, and you can get an idea from the website. Bear in mind that this place sells only the cream of the crop, and is probably the most expensive source for it, but it will give you an idea of the potential in a broad leaf maple tree. If indeed that is what you have. ( https://nwtimber.com/ )
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post #3 of 12 Old 07-01-2020, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks mmwood_1

Youíre correct; itís broad leaf maple. Since posting this I spoke with my sawyer and he thought Iíd come out ahead if I could handle rough cut maple. I wonít use it for a couple years, which should be enough time for 4/4 boards to dry, right?

As for the madrone, would it be better to dry it in a shed (rather than a garage) to slow the drying? Can I use clamping cauls (on the stack) to keep them straight or do I need external weight? Any suggestion for countertop thickness? I was thinking 2Ē, so start with 10/4 slabs.

Finally, any cautions about which sticker material to use or avoid for either species to avoid staining?

Sorry for the basic questions; Iíve only ever used QSWO purchased in dry condition.

Nick
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post #4 of 12 Old 07-02-2020, 12:32 AM
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1) once the wood is cut, you want to paint, wax, or otherwise seal the cut ends to reduce moisture loss through the end grain. Failing to do that will very likely result in extreme checking.

2)the general rule of thumb for air drying is 1 year/one inch of thickness. Conditions will vary that accordingly.
3)milling and drying wood is not something I do, personally, except for a small amount for my own use. I've known a few people around who do it and some are pretty good at it. I have learned a lot from them, but it is not my own first-hand experience. I can tell you this much, I got some 13" diameter apple logs some years ago. Apple, like madrone, is infamous for its twisting while drying. I sealed the ends well, propped them up off the ground, and let the logs sit out through an Oregon winter. In the Spring, I brought them in to get milled, then I stacked and stickered them and covered the stack with a tarp in a non-heated shed for about 8 months. After that, they moved into my shop, where they sat for another year or so, still stickered. The result was practically no checking at all, some amount of cupping and twist, but nothing I couldn't lose because I had milled them thickly enough, expecting that.


As for clamping, I would think that would work if you can manage it, at least as well as anything else can. And I've yet to meet a sticker that didn't leave a stain. Since this is a small batch run for personal use, wax paper is cheap. You can wrap your stickers with it and that ought to prevent staining.



Most countertops are about 1 1/2". You can do 2", but you must bear in mind that appliances are made to fit under 1 1/2" counters, at a 36" counter height. If you go 36" countertop height with 2" thick counters, you won't get a dishwasher under it. So adapt accordingly, if you go 2".


BTW, whereabouts are you? I'm in Corvallis, OR.
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post #5 of 12 Old 07-02-2020, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips. Wax paper... great idea.

I'm in Gig Harbor, WA (across the bridge from Tacoma). The property is on Herron Island, just north of Olympia.
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-13-2020, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Mark,

Not sure if you're still subscribed to this thread, but I thought I'd give you an update (and ask a question).

We decided to keep the Madrone for now; I'm hoping I can leave it just in front of the cabin and build a deck around it. It's smaller than I thought, so not big enough for counter tops.

The maple came down (3, actually) and they look like they'll have lots of figure. I haven't been into the ravine to inspect the trunk, but my sawyer said there's burl everywhere. I checked out your site (beautiful work, by the way!) before starting this reply and was delighted to see the rain forest green marble in your fireplace surround. I've only ever built 5 pieces of furniture, but I used the same marble as an inset for two end tables.

I like the aesthetic of mission/craftsman furniture, but a good part of it is the way quarter-sawn white oak takes die/stain. I understand maple is a bit more difficult to finish, due to uneven staining. Do you think it's a good species for mission furniture? Looks like I'll have a couple thousand board feet to work with.

Regards,
Nick
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-14-2020, 01:22 AM
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Hi Nick,
Well, maple is not known for its outstanding acceptance of stain, I can tell you that much. If the look of dark stained quarter sawn oak is what you want, then that's really what you need to use. Nothing else will give you the same effect. And if that is what you really want, no matter how pretty that maple is, you won't get it with that wood. In which case, you might consider exploring a trade with someone who has quarter sawn oak and wants figured maple.



Of course, there's always the option of doing something completely different with the maple. Myself, I'm not a fan of staining. I do it if i have to, but in many cases, I would rather do a paint grade job than stain pretty pieces of wood. Personal preference.
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-16-2020, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Mark,

I wasn't thinking of treating the maple like QSWO, it was more a question of whether maple was an acceptable species for mission furniture. It looks like Stickley preferred white oak, maple and gum wood, but I can't find much about how he finished it. Ironically, he advocated fuming white oak with ammonia to lower the contrast of the medullary rays, whereas now people like to accentuate the contrast.

I'm not going after reproductions or anything like that; I was thinking of prairie or settle style chairs/sofas. It's for an island cabin, so something casual to sink into next to the fireplace. What would be your preferred method of finishing maple in that case - to show off the figure?

Nick
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-17-2020, 12:19 PM
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If it's figured maple, my preferred finish would be a wipe-on oil, such as 100% Tung oil, or Watco Danish oil (natural, not stained) I typically use a 4 part finish I learned long ago. Equal parts of 100% Tung oil, linseed oil, satin spar varnish, and lacquer thinner. Wipe on, wet sand it into the wood with 400 grit silicon carbide paper, wipe on again, sit for 10 minutes, wipe off and let it dry. Smooth, satiny finish that is fairly water resistant and durable.


As for what Stickley did or did not do or prefer, I have no idea. I've never studied period furniture, and the mission style never appealed to me much. Ironically, for some of the same reasons it does appeal to you. Haha!
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-18-2020, 08:18 AM
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Sounds like you have some very special wood on your hands. I'm not familiar with western maples, but eastern species deteriorate quickly in log form. The logs should be sawn as soon as possible and, as mmwood says, end sealed to slow down end checking. The best end sealers have a low rate of moisture vapor transmission. Wax works best. Latex paints are "breathe able", meaning they transmit moisture readily; so they don't work nearly as well. Years from now when the wood is seasoned, it's a good idea to cut the sealed ends back an inch or so a few days before you start to work with the planks so the end grain can acclimate to shop conditions.
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post #11 of 12 Old 08-18-2020, 12:53 PM
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sawyers here in pa don't like to cut maple in the summer/hotter months, they claim that the wood stains...

there is some science to air drying, research it well before you dive in, so you gain the most form your harvest
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post #12 of 12 Old 09-18-2020, 04:13 PM
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For the "authority" on any domestic wood, I suggest you check out the USDA's FPL, Forest Products Laboratory, wood science articles, which are technical research documents funded by our tax dollars. They have great articles and extracts about DIY kiln driers, DIY milling, properties by specie, etc....

Here's a link to their "Kiln Drying Operator's Manual": https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/usda/ah188/ah188.htm

Geek out!!
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