If you like to work with hand tools (or want to try it), you'll get a kick out of working this soft maple called boxelder. Aside from being low-cost, it's easy on cutting edges, bits, and abrasives. In fact, this is a perfect wood for kids to work. If, however, you prefer the bite of power tools, keep the standard techniques listed in the box below in mind, and remember the following tips in your shop:
- Although boxelder isn't as hard as most maple you might be used to working, it does have a tendency to burn. Use only sharp cutting edges.
- Hesitating or force-feeding the workpiece while ripping increases the wood's chance of burning. Use a constant feed rate. While routing, keep the wood or the tool moving at a constant rate.
- Boxelder provides the perfect chance to try your hand-planing skills. With a sharp cutter, its close grain will give you a smooth surface. This characteristic also makes it an excellent wood to sand.
- Speed up the rpm rate when drilling boxelder, even though it's a hardwood. With thick wood or large-diameter bits, raise the bit occasionally to clear out chips and reduce the chance of burning. And use a backing board to avoid tearout of this comparatively brittle wood.
- The wood holds nails and screws quite well, but be sure to predrill to avoid splitting.
- Because of its tight grain, boxelder's cousin sugar maple some times resists normal gluing, and so does boxelder. For best results, put down a ribbon of glue on each joining surface, then press them together to spread the glue. Pull the pieces apart, let the glue become tacky, then rejoin and clamp. Make sure to clean up all squeeze-out.
- Like hard maple, boxelder sometimes produces blotchy staining results. On a scrap, try using a conditioning sealer coat before staining. Or, use gel stains.
All clear finishes, as well as paint, take readily to boxelder.
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