Hard Maple countertops?

kashka_katMay 26, 2010

Seems to me I recall hearing in woodworking class (yrs ago) that hard maple was difficult to work with  can someone remind me what the issues were and give me tips on how I can work with this wood?

I am thinking just gluing up some hard maple 5/4 boards for a countertop. Just a plain glued joint  would the hardness of the wood be an issue if glue canÂt get into the wood pores? Should I use biscuit jointer? thx

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mongoct

Hard maple glues fine, I've never had issues with yellow glue. Biscuits will definitely give a better and stronger joint, plus they'll aid a bit during alignment and glue-up.

Watch your grain. If flat sawn, it can help to alternate "smiles" and "frowns" when you look at the grain pattern on the ends of the boards. If vertical grain, not a worry.

Treat the bottom of the countertop as you will the top; If urethaning, urethane the bottom too. Were you to just urethane the top and leave the bottom as raw wood, the bottom face could absorb seasonal moisture and cup the entire top. Or at least the slab would try to cup. Which leads to...

Fastening. I attach wood counter tops from below. I'll have one row of screws that are somewhat tight. That row is sometimes at the front of the countertop (near the overhang) or sometimes at the rear (by the backsplash). Depends on where I want the movement to occur. The remainder of the fasteners will be slightly loose, perhaps using fender washers or the equivalent. The fender washers will prevent the top from lifting, but the oversized holes allow lateral movement. That'll allow the slab to expand and contract as needed during seasonal swings.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 10:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
HandyMac

Agree with everything mongoct said with one difference.

Splines instead of biscuits. I love and use biscuits a lot, but in edge gluing long pieces, splines hold better, reduce glueup movement, and make a much better joint. You can even use splines made of the same maple used for the countertop.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 12:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kashka_kat

How do you do splines? Is that where youd cut the edge to fit into the edge of the other board. Can that be done with a router.

Thnx

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 2:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
HandyMac

Splines are simply a long biscuit. You can route grooves in each joining edge with a straight bit. It is best done on a router table with a fence. But, it is possible with a handheld router and an edge guide. You simply center the bit to the edge.

Let's use 3/8" for a start, but you could use 1/4" or 1/2" bits. Then set the depth on the router to 3/16" deep. You route the groove the entire length of each joining edge(Stopping for exposed ends---which actually should get breadboard end treatments).

You now have two grooves that form a 3/8" square ho;e a;omg the joined edges of two boards.

All you have to do is cut as many 3/8" square splines(the strips to fit the groves) as necessary. The splines can be one piece or several in one groove.

Lots of glue. Clamp every 6"-10" along the length and use cauls to keep the glueup flat.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 3:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bobismyuncle

A couple of other factoids:

Hard maple is easy to burn / glaze with a dull blade, pinching, or slow router movement. Not a big deal, but just something to be aware of.

Maple is very cohesive and sometimes jointing or planing will tend to produce chip-out in areas where the grain does not cooperate. Running a damp sponge over the wood just before jointing / planing often helps, and watching the feed direction can be critical.

Being so dense, it can be work to sand it out. A sharp plane or cabinet scraper can help get closer first.

Splines, according to USPL, may actually reduce the strength of an edge glued joint. Your joint should be plenty strong, enough to tolerate this. The major advantage, if done carefully is alignment. If not done carefully it's dis-alignment.

Here is a link that might be useful: See p. 9-18

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 5:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
HandyMac

I'm confused. The link you provided seems to be a construction related source. And all I can find on the USPL is it is plastic lumber.

What I have learned about woodworking and furniture making is much different than what I learned about construction.

In furniture making, which the OP's countertop is closer to, splines are one of the strongest joints as they effectively eliminate wood movement and actually increase glue surface.

I will agree when using normal construction or composite lumber, splined joints will be weaker.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 12:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
someone2010

Maple is not hard to work with and it glues up just fine as long as you mill a good joint, just like any other wood.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 11:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brickeyee

Splines and biscuits are an aligment aid in face gran joints.

They do not add appreciably to the strength, if at all.

A solid glue joint is already stronger than the wood itself.

Splines and biscuits ARE needed if you are trying to glue end grain. Either a direct end grain to end grain joint or end grain to long grain.

These are weaker joints and every little bit helps.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 4:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aidan_m

Hard Maple is only difficult to route with a profile bit. It is very prone to splintering and tear-out. I alwasy use spiral bits for flush trimming. But if you are doing a profile- like a bullnose edge or an ogee, this takes some practice and patience. Many woodworkers make several passes, lowering the router bit a little more each time. I like to run the router backwards for the first passes, but this is dangerous if you don't have a strong grip on the router, since the cutter pulls in the same direction you are pushing. After the cut is made, go back in the right direction to clean up the edge. Done correctly this will eliminate splintering and tear out.

Also be extremely careful hand sanding the finished piece of Maple. The splintering can really catch you by surprise. I've gotten Maple splinters over an inch long embedded in my palm. Not fun.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 1:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
obmachine_netscape_net

Purchased a 22' shuffleboard,it was damaged when removed.A 1" deep x 1/2" wide x4" piece was chipped off edge. I was going to router and glue a new piece of maple, but was wondering if I should dowel it and put screws in it. I would also like to know which type of glue would be suitable and what kind of maple is generaly used so I can match the woods up.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 2:02AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Will these trees make good lumber?
I've got 2 fallen catalpa trees that have remained...
mshepherd2
Need help with staining alder cabinets
Can someone share with me the right way to stain the...
aktillery9
Need help matching wood stain color
The molding in our kitchen was not completed when we...
candeelyn
Table saw for hobby work.
I searched this question on here and I did find a few...
greenhavenrdgarden
southern yellow pine ceilings - how to tone down yellow
Hi, all. We are currently building: natural cherry...
hjs
Sponsored Products
Teal & Blue Cutting Boards - Set of 2
$39.99 | Dot & Bo
Blue Rectangle Countertop Soap Dish
TheBathOutlet
Petite Wall-Mount Glass Sink Set with Mirror
Signature Hardware
16x16 White Onyx Stone Bathroom Premium Sink - PARIS
Living'ROC
Virtu USA Curtice 20-Inch Single Sink Bathroom Vanity
Overstock.com
Porcelain Bathroom Sink
MR Direct Sinks and Faucets
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™