Steel eating monster maple

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    Topic
  • #553501
    Szoltomi
    Participant

    Hi!

    Early in the summer, I bought some soft maple off a guy’s firewood shipment and put it aside to dry.
    Recently I started processing it, and noticed it dulls tools faster. Some pieces have barely none of this effect, but one piece I started working on takes my best plane blades from freshly sharpened to no cutting in five strokes. The plane takes increasingly broken up shavings, to the point of dust as used.
    Upon examination with touch the edge is rough and has a definite burr on the back.

    As much as I researched, I found no mention of maple having such property, but I am aware that local perturbations may happen. Can any tree gather high amounts of silica or other abrasive compounds? Does maple do it more or less than others? Would every piece in my stock show the same effect? Is there a good method to assess the relative abrasiveness of a certain piece of wood?

    This is pretty much my only decent stock of lumber and I intended to make quite a few things out of it for Christmas so I’d rather not toss it all. It’s also my first encounter with maple. I’m afraid going through, testing which pieces to keep and struggling with the work may not be worth it. Should I buy a plank or two right now instead?

    Any insight is appreciated,

    Tom

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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  • #553512
    Larry Geib
    Participant

    @lorenzojose

    Can any tree gather high amounts of silica or other abrasive compounds?

    Apparently so. The wood database specifically mentions Hard Maple (Acer Saccarum) as potentially having high silica content from water uptake in certain soils concentrated in the roots and lower trunk. It also says the same can happen in the rest of the maples.

    Commentary on the soft maples also mentions fuzzing when you try to turn or plane them unless the tools are VERY sharp. Sanding can also be an issue.

    Soft maple includes a whole range including Box Elder, and each species varies.

    #553513
    Ed
    Participant

    @ed

    It can also be edge failure if the bevel angle isn’t steep enough for the harder wood. You may need to go higher than 30, say to 35-ish. Check your angle with a protractor and see where you are now.

    #553514
    joeleonetti
    Participant

    @joeleonetti

    I was reading something a year or two ago about silica content in woods (don’t recall which book). From what I recall, the silica content can be vastly different for different woods. I seem to recall between high and low silica content, there could be a factor of 10 difference depending on which wood.

    I bought some mesquite a year or two ago when I was in Texas so I could make another Paul Sellers clock. Mesquite has high silica content as well. I plan to give it to my brother who lives in Texas. Also plan to carve that Texas start into the front by the how to video that Paul has.

    #553562
    Doug Finch
    Participant

    @dfsixstring1968

    @szoltomi
    I also work with maple (sugar maple) a lot. It is indigenous to Tennessee, where I live. It is some of the hardest wood I’ve worked with. I found that it dulled chisels and plane blades very quickly. The wood I worked with was also very figured – which meant that I really needed to keep my tools sharp. I love the look and would not dream of throwing it away. It is worth the effort to me, but it can be frustrating. I feel your pain.

    On a side note, I found that often I just needed to strop my blades a few times between actually sharpening them. You may want to try that.

    #553564
    Edmund
    Participant

    @etmo

    Can any tree gather high amounts of silica or other abrasive compounds? Does maple do it more or less than others? Would every piece in my stock show the same effect? Is there a good method to assess the relative abrasiveness of a certain piece of wood?

    Any tree can gather high amounts of silica, but many normally do not. In the aftermath of the 1980 Mt St Helens eruption near Seattle, WA, millions of tons of ash were deposited on the soil of some very productive forest area. The ash was about 65% silicon dioxide. Years later, it was noticed that the trees harvested from that area had a pronounced dulling effect on tools.

    As Larry said, maple is known to absorb silica, and hard maple is a serious wood to work in the first place. Not every piece will show the same characteristics, just as not every board from the same tree exhibits the same characteristics.

    The best way to be aware of this is, as mentioned above, read about the wood you’ll use at the Wood Database and other sources, and talk to your sawyer or lumber provider — they’ll often get feedback about their products. One lumberyard near me will post characteristics of their stock on the same sign as the price, and sometimes it’ll warn, “This load has abnormally high silica content, stay sharp” or similar.

    #553569
    Szoltomi
    Participant

    @szoltomi

    Thanks for the info guys. I checked Wood Database when I started working with this wood, but I skimmed over the fact how maple may absorb silica. Thanks for the heads up @lorenzojose.

    Stropping was among first things I tried, ended up with just a fuzzy strop. Increasing my primary bevel angle doesn’t help, perhaps even makes things worse.

    The wood I have is not hard maple, I can easily dent it with my fingers. I’ve worked with oak, beech and ash and neither was anywhere near this hard or gave me this much trouble. Sadly I can’t tell more to identify it further. I selected them from a colleague’s firewood shipment, who thought it was oak, because “he can identify wood from it’s bark alone”.

    I have since made a chair seat out of a narrower billet, which went OK, but I did have to sharpen three times as much as usual. the wood murders scrapers very efficiently too, so I had to fall back to sanding at the end.

    Thanks for the insight guys, I now know what I’m up against.

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)

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