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Sugar Maple

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Wood identification

Wood identification

Practically all states east of the Great Plains boast sugar maple (Acer saccharum), that in a forest setting, grows 70-130' tall with a diameter of 2-3'. Open-grown trees have shorter trunks with a rounded crown of many branches. All sugar maples when young have a smooth silvery bark that with age turns ash-gray and breaks into unevenly layered flakes or scales. Sugar maple has palm-sized leaves with five pointed lobes that in the fall call forth brilliant shades of red and orange. In early summer, double-winged keys-the tree's inedible fruit-emerge. Straight-grained, fine-textured, hard, strong, and at 44 pounds per cubic foot as heavy as red oak, the wood of sugar maple has high commercial value. Its sapwood, frequently 3-5" thick, appears much lighter in color than the slightly pinkish-tan heartwood. Both are sold. Some trees produce spectacularly figured wood in curly, fiddleback, quilt, and bird's-eye.

Continued on page 3:  Uses in woodworking


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