Maple wood comes from deciduous maples, which are found in about 200 different species in Eurasia and North America. Maple wood (Latin name: Acer) is mainly used in construction and furniture. European woodcarvers prefer the wood of maple species growing at high altitudes such as mountain maple and curly maple.
Maple wood characteristics
Mountain maple and curly maple are precious woods. While mountain maple wood is white to yellowish in color, curly maple wood is reddish in color. The annual rings are easily recognizable, and often there may be irregular pores and marrow rays between them. Maple wood is easy to split, but it tends to discolor during drying. After felling, the logs must be quickly carved and stored vertically. With an average density of about 650 kg/m³, maple is one of the medium weight types of wood. It is hard and resistant but at the same time elastic. Maple wood is stored for a long time in good conditions, for example indoors.
In general, maple wood is rather difficult to carve because of its hardness. It is therefore normally only used for wood carvings with a maximum height of 40 cm. First, the woodcarver starts making a draft using a pantograph, a hand-guided copy machine. The maple wood is finely finished and the big advantage is that the hardwood does not fray during milling. Then the finishing work will begin.
Raw wood chips are ground by hand and then finished in detail. The particularly marked points, often decisive for the character of a wooden statue, are the eyes, mouth and nose, ears, hair and fingers. They are worked with special tesserae, and we speak of "reconstruction". The surface treatment will take place only at the end, when the carver is fully satisfied with his work. Painters and gilders are used in large woodworking workshops.
Because mountain maple wood and hedgehog wood have only a very fine grain, it is ideal for making wood carvings. The surface of the wood can also be worked, stained, varnished, colored and polished. However, it should be borne in mind that maple wood always has a slight tendency to yellowing.
In addition to its use as a classic construction and furniture wood, maple wood is used by carpentries to make inlays and particularly thin furniture. Mountain maple wood is found in musical instruments and toys. Wood carvers, turners and sculptors particularly appreciate maple wood, as they are able to enhance the finest details.
Tips for care
The maple wood carvings, waxed or stained, should be cleaned preferably with a dry cloth, a fine brush or a soft brush. Never use a microfiber cloth or a damp cloth! The same applies to painted or gilded sculptures.