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Thread: Silver maple wood worth anything?

  1. #1

    Silver maple wood worth anything?

    I hope this is the right board for this... mods move if not!

    My parents have a large silver maple tree on their property that's looking like it needs to come down. It's very old, and the trunk is maybe 3 feet in diameter or so.

    The tree guy that looked at it said "silver maple isn't usually great wood" and that it might not be worth using. Any truth to that? I've never used silver maple before and would hate to let some giant slabs go to waste if they could be used or sold to someone who could get some use out of them.

    (This assumes of course that the trunk isn't rotten; I think it's the limbs that are giving them trouble but I'm not certain yet).

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bert McMahan View Post
    I hope this is the right board for this... mods move if not!
    My parents have a large silver maple tree on their property that's looking like it needs to come down. It's very old, and the trunk is maybe 3 feet in diameter or so.
    The tree guy that looked at it said "silver maple isn't usually great wood" and that it might not be worth using. Any truth to that? I've never used silver maple before and would hate to let some giant slabs go to waste if they could be used or sold to someone who could get some use out of them.
    (This assumes of course that the trunk isn't rotten; I think it's the limbs that are giving them trouble but I'm not certain yet).
    Silver (and other soft maple) is used often in woodturning. I don't like it as much as hard/sugar maple but I generally like to turn hard, dense wood. I have no idea about the market for boards, beams, and slabs. Sometimes soft maple has incredible figure making it valuable, but you probably can't tell until the logs are sawn.

    In general, wood increases in value with each processing step. A standing tree may not be worth much, especially since you can't see if the inside is rotted or hollow. A log can be worth more. A log sawn into useful lumber is worth even more, kiln drying increases that. But you still have to find a market and sell it.

    If it "needs to come down" anyway I'd probably have it taken down, remove the limbs, and evaluate the trunk and go from there.
    You might locate sawmills in your area and ask. (Woodfinder.com is one resource, calling Woodmizer is another.)
    Can you load and haul such a large log yourself? Loading and moving logs, especially large logs, is a lot of work and can be expensive if you don't have heavy equipment and trailers, it might be hard to find someone to come after one log.

    A small independent sawmill might be interested although 30" is beyond the capacity of some bandsaw mills. A swing mill has no such limitation.

    Some tree owners see dollar signs when they consider their big tree but the reality is sometimes disappointing. I once had a large oak on my property come down in a storm. I sawed it into three logs, managed to get them loaded on a trailer, and took them to a local sawmill. They offered me $60, hardly worth the effort. Now that I have my own sawmill such logs are more valuable to me.

    Some small sawmills will saw a log for "shares" - you bring the log and help with the handling and offloading and we split the wood 50/50. You bring the log and don't help the split might be 60/40. If I have to go get the log I'm either not interested or I keep all the wood.

    BTW, best time to take down a tree is in the dead of winter when it's dormant. Sawing and air drying some light-colored species like maple and holly can be a problem in warm/hot weather since the wood can stain undesirably.

    JKJ

  3. #3
    It depends on your intentions, do you want to use the wood yourself or are you trying to sell the log or sell the lumber. I do know locally the guys who sell big slabs will buy large diameter trees. I have a small hobby mill and will cut almost anything just to do it. I would at least talk to the local sawyers before turning it into firewood.

  4. #4
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    Soft maple of any kind around here is firewood. Some of the sawyers will carry a hatchet with them so they can take a slide of bark off to see if it's curly (which is the only soft maple that will go to a mill). I've heard it's used to make pallets and for sofas and chairs (under the fabric). Also very few mills around here will touch a tree from a yard. The risk of hitting a nial is too great. When I was a kid next to our house was a mill (softwood). We played in the woodchip pile many of days. My father had to very large pines cut down because the roots were growing above the ground makign it very hard to mow. The neighbor came over with a large loader to take the logs away but I don't think he actually cut them up.

  5. #5
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    Soft (red) maple is one of the best woods for paint grade millwork, cabinets, and furniture. It's worth anywhere from $100 to $300 or $400/MBF, half that of hard maple. I'm not sure silver maple is used much commercially, however. My personal experience milling and drying it wasn't too positive as it cupped and twisted quite a bit. I politely decline when people offer me silver maple logs now.

    John

  6. #6
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    It's either sugar maple (hard maple) or everything else (soft maple).

    It's nice for paint grade or curly.

    I picked some silver maple up Saturday
    20220604_135223.jpg

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jared Sankovich View Post
    It's either sugar maple (hard maple) or everything else (soft maple).

    It's nice for paint grade or curly.

    I picked some silver maple up Saturday
    20220604_135223.jpg
    Actually even sap from soft Maples can be used to produce Maple syrup. It takes about 25% more volume to have the same yield as I recall. Just a little publicized almost useless fact.

  8. #8
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    Isn't soft maple great for work bench slabs and the like?

  9. #9
    All the above and I would add that silver maple has a tendency to rot from the center outward, so a standing tree can reap some disappointing rewards as far as good wood. I really like silver maple for turning, but only because of the figure that happens frequently.

    Left click my name for homepage link.

  10. #10
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    I salvaged some 4’ logs from large soft maple limbs that came down in a thunderstorm several years back. Conventional wisdom is that this secondary lumber is only good for turning or small parts. When I finally got around to sawing boards on my band saw, I was rewarded with some spectacular spalted maple which went into door panels for my tool cabinet and keepsake boxes for my kids who used to play in the shade of what was always called the “tire swing” tree.

    So while usually not economical, you can get some value from these so-called yard trees.
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