The term “Soft Maple” is not a reference to any particular maples species, per se, but a segment of the Acer genus known for its lighter weight and density (as well as its propensity for displaying the classic maple “curl” figure). Of these lighter maples, Red Maple has the most weight and density, and is also the most prevalent — growing in areas scattered all over the Eastern US and up into (Eastern) Canada. As is the paradoxical case with all maples, its beautiful pale white / pale yellow / pale golden sapwood are more coveted than its darker heartwood.
Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Veneer, paper, boxes, utility wood, musical instruments, turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.
Comments: Its more heavy, dense nature lends Red Maple to a greater variety of utility applications, versus its less substantial Soft Maple cousins. Its figuring can be quite dramatic; tiger-striped, veined, fiddleback and sometimes even quilt figuring are sometimes present.