Also known as sweet, rock, and black maple, this durable and abundant species was a popular choice among woodworkers during colonial days. True to form, many of their projects can now be found in antique shops, little worse for the wear and featuring the rich patina of age. Working with hard maple requires very sharp, well-tuned tools. Nothing beats a planed maple surface, and stain will take to it easily. When sanding maple, it is recommended to stop at 150 grit. Any finer sanding will polish the wood to a point where it won't accept stain very well, especially oil stains. Water-based aniline dye stains are the most effective colorants for maple.
Hard maple parts may crack to relieve the stress of a tight joint. Due to the wood's hardness, it is all too easy to break a brass screw driven into a pilot hole. To reduce this, find a steel screw that matches the brass screw in size and thread count and drive it into the hole first (after dragging it over a block of beeswax). After withdrawing the steel screw, safely drive the brass screw into the threaded hole.
In addition to furniture, hard maple has been (and still is) used for farm equipment, shoe lasts, tool handles, and other items that needed to withstand a great deal of wear. It turns well, can be carved, and is a good choice for workbench tops, as it withstands impacts.
Wood grain images provided by HobbitHouseInc.com