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Great Wood! Spectacular Wood and Where to Get It.
by Dave Munkittrick. American Woodworker. April 2001.

Quilted Big-Leaf Maple

Quilted big-leaf maple is a real gem of the forest. Its spectacular figure has a three-dimensional look that seems to shift like the facets of a jewel as it's moved. Quilted figure appears in several tree species, but by far the most spectacular displays are found in the big-leaf maples of the Pacific Northwest.

Because it's a rare find, quilted big-leaf maple is in short supply and is very expensive. To save money, woodworkers will often re-saw the stock to use as veneer, door panels, jewelry box or humidor lids and as accents in furniture. Instrument makers favor quilted big-leaf maple for acoustic guitar backs and sides, electric guitar tops and harps.

Quilted figure has a lot of end grain that is prone to tear-out, so it can be a real challenge to scrape, sand, and finish. But the end result is always worth the extra effort.

We bought this quilted big-leaf maple from Northwest Timber in Oregon. They try to keep a good supply on hand and sell it in random lengths and widths. The lumber is graded according to the intensity of the figure. At the very top is Musical Grade followed by AAAAA down to AAA. The wood is available in thicknesses from 4/4 to 12/4 and prices range from $12/bd.ft. to $25/bd.ft., depending on the grade.

Note: Quilted figure varies from tree to tree and from board to board. Expect variations in color, shape, and size of the blisters in each quilted pattern.

(You can find more work by Aaron Levine and many others in our Photo Gallery)

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