Queensland is best known for the Great Barrier Reef, but it does have another natural treasure - the Queensland maple. The tree is native to Queensland, the eastern-most state in Australia, but it can also be found in New South Wales and New Guinea.
Although the tree's commercial names include many variations of maple, such as Australian maple, maple silkwood and scented maple, it is not actually a maple. The Woodwork Book, by Pan Books Ltd., describes it as "unrelated and distinct in appearance from true maple. It looks more like African mahogany. Light brown with a shiny figure when quarter sawn due to wavy interlocked grain."
Fine Figures Galore
Larry Frye, forestry and veneer specialist for the Hardwood Plywood & Veneer Assn. and author of "Fine Hardwoods Selectorama," describes it as having a light red color similar to African mahogany with a wavy, curly pattern. He also calls it one of the finest Australian cabinet woods and lists its availability as rare for quarter-sliced and half-round veneer with a price in the higher range.
While most experts agree that the wood is beautiful and good for use in a variety of applications, not all agree about how easily the wood seasons. "There is a great tendency for distortion to occur, and for wide boards to cup or collapse," according to Lincoln, who adds that the wood has "medium to high shrinkage during drying." The USDA Forest Service's Tropical Timbers of the World, says it seasons satisfactorily, with some tendency to warp and collapse, while The Encyclopedia of Wood says the wood dries easily with kiln or air drying.
From Cabinets to Cabin Cruisers
Forestry Important to Queensland
Use of the Queensland maple may become more prevalent in other parts of the world in years to come as the Queensland DPI is seeing increasing interest in export markets "where projected global timber shortfalls will provide long-term growth opportunities."
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