Maple Butcher Blocks
For any and all kitchen items from cutting boards and bowls to butcher blocks and countertops, there are countless things that must be taken into account. Unlike other wood projects, items found in the kitchen must also consider water damage, how these materials interact with kitchen utensils, whether or not these woods will lead to bacteria growth unknowingly, and whether they can withstand the continual use that is required of them.
With these concepts in mind, maple wood was one of the very first woods to be considered. Not only is maple wood known for its density and neutral tone that makes it perfect for various stains and projects but it is also fine-pored and highly durable. In fact, according to the Wood Database, “Hard maple ought to be considered the king of the Acer genus. Its wood is stronger, stiffer, harder, and denser than all of the other species of maple commercially available in lumber form.” However, to better understand just what makes maple wood so ideal for cutting boards and butcher blocks alike, let’s take a look at its main characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, and how this all applies to butcher blocks specifically below.
The Main Characteristics of Maple Wood
Maple wood comes in both hard and soft wood forms. Surprisingly, unlike cherry wood, maple wood’s sapwood is used far more often than its heartwood. Maple is one of the most popular woods in America for furniture making and is incredibly easy to grow and manufacture making it highly accessible compared to other popular woods on the market.
While the most common grain pattern in maple wood is straight-grained, you can also find birdseye grain patterns and swirl patterns in the harder wood specifically. Maple also has a fine and even texture to its grain making it perfect for all kinds of projects.
Soft maple is most commonly used for its density and durability in furniture making, construction, and flooring while woodworkers adore the sugar maple tree with its hard wood that is very easy to work with and shape accordingly. Soft maple has a 1,450 rating on the Janka scale making it one of the hardest domestic woods on the market likewise.
Because maple is such a light color, maple is often used to mimic other hardwoods such as walnut or cherry when they are harder to find during certain times of the year. This makes it incredibly versatile and means that you can stain your maple wood any way you please.
Lastly, maple is very resistant to scratches which is why it is one of the most top-used materials for furniture, flooring, and kitchen items specifically. While cutting on a plastic or cheap wood butcher block is sure to cause deep grooves that collect bacteria and can lead to illness in the consumer, maple wood butcher blocks are sure to be able to withstand cutting and wear without warping, splitting, or collecting food bacteria.
What are the Most Common Uses for Maple Wood?
Maple wood can be found in countless different industries from furniture making, construction, and flooring all the way to the music industry, gun industry, and woodworking. The most common uses for maple wood specifically are furniture, hardwood flooring, carving, woodworking, countertops, cabinets, gun stocks, and kitchen items such as cutting boards, butcher blocks, and dining sets.
You can also see maple wood in other industries as well such as the music industry in the form of drum sets, drum sticks, guitars, bass guitars, and even reeds found in saxophones and clarinets. However, these industries are not as prevalent as the furniture and flooring industries alone which makes up nearly 80 percent of maple wood’s production.
For furniture-making, hardwood flooring, cabinetry, and countertops specifically, maple wood is ideal for a set of reasons. For one, the neutral color of maple wood means it can be stained however you like and can match any house guaranteed. Maple wood is also one of the most durable woods in production and is aso resistant to scratches which means that it is perfect for building long-lasting furniture and cabinets as well as dealing with constantly being used as is the case with flooring and countertops.
As for kitchen items specifically, the durability, shock-resistance, non-porous grain texture, and scratch-resistance all make it highly useful when it comes to cutting board, butcher block, and even dining set production. These items can withstand water, food bacteria, being cut on, dropped, and used daily without warping, cracking, drying out, or even simply wearing down. This means that maple wood has a far higher lifespan than nearly all woods out there for these items making it not just preferable but highly ideal.
Maple Wood’s Strengths and Weaknesses
While maple wood remains one of the singular best woods on the market in a number of ways, when looking into what made this wood good for cutting boards and butcher blocks specifically, we chose to not just focus on its strengths but its weaknesses as well. With this being said, below are not just the highlights of maple wood but its pitfalls as well. By looking at both sides of this material, we hope it will be exceptionally obvious as to why this wood is one of our top three materials for production.
The Most Common Strengths of Maple
Maple wood isn’t known as one of the best woods on the market for nothing. There are a myriad of pros to using maple wood for any and all projects. However, to simplify things, we’ve taken the top five highlights of this material and showcased them below to show exactly why maple wood is unique and highly sought after not just for butcher blocks but for every product imaginable.
- Highly Durable
Maple wood is considered one of the most highly durable woods on the market as it has one of the highest Janka scale ratings, does not warp or bend easily, and is shock, cut, and dent-resistant. On top of this, maple wood is also straight-grained for the most part and fine-pored making it very sturdy and sound for construction, flooring, furniture building, and design alike. This is why it is so common in the furniture and flooring industry.
The versatility of maple wood is where this material truly shines. Maple wood can be used for countless projects and comes both as a soft and hard form making it perfect for countless industries. You can carve the heartwood of this tree with ease and use its sapwood to create the sturdiest furniture imaginable all while staining it any color you please since its natural neutral tone is great to mimic any and all wood colors and grain patterns.
While some wood materials are harder to find or manufacture, the ease in which maple wood is produced and the amount that is produced yearly makes it far more affordable for its high quality than other woods at the same level. On top of this, the fast that it lasts for far longer than other products made of different materials means that it is also cost-effective as well. This makes its low price even more enticing to countless industries and consumers.
Since maple wood is easy to produce and manufacture with very little effort, maple wood is considered one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable woods on the market. It can also be used to mimic more endangered wood species and this helps the environment significantly likewise. Furthermore, maple wood is consistently producing oxygen for our atmosphere and, at the rate that it is manufactured, this makes a big impact on our ecosystem yearly.
- Easy to Find
Lastly, maple wood is superbly easy to find because it is produced in countless areas across the nation and in mass production. The most common production location is near the Great Lakes but it is shipped across the nation daily and is one of the most popular woods out there so the supply accounts for this always.
With the highlights of maple wood now broken down, let’s take a look at the few weaknesses that must be considered with this material to determine if it is useful for your household products below.
The Weaknesses of Maple
While maple wood hardly has any negative aspects to it, it’s still important to take into account the few that exist. With this being said, below are five that specifically pertain to cutting boards and how we’ve moved past them in our own production process.
- Susceptible to Insect Attack
While this doesn’t particularly apply to maple wood butcher blocks, it’s still important to mention that maple wood’s natural scent and density makes it highly susceptible to insect attacks from termites and carpenter ants. Therefore, when using your butcher blocks, be sure not to bring it outside for long periods of time as this can lead to damage from bugs as well as water and the sun.
- Hard Maple Costs More
Despite the fact that maple wood is still far more cost-effective than other materials, it is important to mention that the denser and harder sapwood is more expensive than the softer heartwood because it is more durable and lasts longer. The main thing to keep in mind is that this durable wood will actually save you money as times goes by.
- Not Much Grain Variety
For those looking for a butcher block with a beautiful grain pattern, maple may not be the material for you. Instead, it may be more beneficial to opt for cherry or walnut wood that has more of a grain swirl. Still, at the end of the day, the lack of grain pattern means it is less likely to crack at these grain points or be susceptible to water damage in the swirls either.
- Less Natural Color Richness
Another thing to consider when using maple wood is that it does not have a rich color like cherry wood unless it is stained. However, for those looking for a neutral color that can fit any kitchen design, maple wood is perfect and can also be stained to mimic any wood color likewise. This means you can have a ‘mahogany butcher block’ without damaging the environment to get it.
- Needs More Special Attention
Lastly, since maple wood is far more high-quality than plastic or cheap woods that are found at retail stores, maple wood requires more care. Just as you would pay more attention to a Lamborghini than you would a Prius, you must be sure to clean and maintain your board more regularly. However, this special attention is sure to lead to a far longer-lasting product that only becomes more dense and durable over time.
Despite the fact that you now know both the highs and lows of using maple wood for production, the question remains—how do these traits apply specifically to butcher blocks and why? To break this down, let’s take a closer look at this correlation in detail below.
What Qualities of Maple are Ideal Specifically for Butcher Blocks?
When it comes to butcher block production, the key is to find a material that is dense, durable, versatile, visually appealing, shock and cut-resistant, and long-lasting. This is why maple wood was one of our first picks.
Maple wood is one of the strongest woods on the market as we’ve discussed above and it is also notorious for its shock and scratch resistance. This is why it is most commonly used for flooring and furniture. However, since these elements are so important with butcher blocks as well, it makes sense why it was a perfect material for these products specifically.
On top of this, maple wood’s versatility and neutral color meant that we could stain it if we wished, show its natural grain, and shape it without damaging its structural integrity at all. Its ability to be carved to any given shape but still stay strong made it great for our butcher blocks entirely.
Lastly, maple wood is known for its longevity with some maple wood products being found hundreds of years later still intact from bygone eras of production. Maple dressers and vanities from the 17th century still as sturdy as ever made it clear why maple wood was a great choice and, paired with its affordability and surplus, it’s clear why it was a great choice not only for furniture and flooring but our very own cutting boards and butcher blocks as well.
All in all, maple wood isn’t just a highly durable, dense, and affordable wood but it is also one of the very best woods out there for making long-lasting and high-quality butcher blocks. This is why it continues to be one of our main woods for production as our customers’ satisfaction is a top priority. We hope to keep every client happy for years to come with the best products available made of the best materials known to man. For more information regarding wood cutting board care, check out our in-depth article ‘6 Ways to Naturally Clean a Wood Cutting Board’ today!