Difference between Maple and Rose Wood

Key difference: Maple and rosewood are two different types of wood. Both are types of hardwoods. Maple is a type of tree belonging in the genus Acer. As a wood, maple is a white hardwood and is considered to have a very tight and even grain. Maple wood is available as hard and soft maple wood. Both are quite hard as compared to other woods and both are specifically used for certain applications. Rosewood refers to the wood of different trees, including trees from the Tipuana, Pterocarpus and Dalbergia genera of trees. Rosewood is best known for its dark brownish and/or reddish hue with darker veining. The rose wood has close, dense grain, which makes it strong and durable. Hence, the wood is used for making furniture, especially cabinets.

Maple and rosewood are two different types of wood. There are various different types of species for each type of tree and have various different types of wood available.  Both are types of hardwoods.

Basically, hardwood is the wood that comes from an angiosperm tree. This is a type of tree that has seeds that are enclosed, be it in pods, a shell, a covering or in a fruit. For example, apples or nuts and seeds like acorns and walnuts. These types of seeds allow birds and insects to be attracted to the flowers of the tree and be able to carry the pollen to other trees. This is also the reason why hardwood trees are not often bunched together but are spaced apart and often have other trees in-between them.

Most hardwood trees are also deciduous is nature. A deciduous tree is a tree that loses its leaves annually. Hardwood trees are also slower to grow, taking their own time. Due to this, most hardwood is dense. This is also the reason that hardwood is expensive, as it takes longer to grow. Some famous hardwoods include maple, balsa, oak, elm, mahogany, and sycamore.

Maple is a type of tree belonging in the genus Acer. There are approximately 128 species of maple. They are mostly native to Asia, Europe, northern Africa, and North America. Fifty-four species of maples are currently under threat of extinction. Maple is characteristically known for its leaves, in fact the name ‘Acer’ means sharp and is derivative of the Maple leaves. Canada has adopted the Maple leave as its national symbol, and it also appears of their flag.

As a wood, maple is a white hardwood and is considered to have a very tight and even grain. Maple wood is available as hard and soft maple wood. Both are quite hard as compared to other woods and both are specifically used for certain applications. The soft wood is commonly used in furniture and molding very resilient and hence it used for durable purposes, such as a butcher block. In addition to butcher blocks, hard maple wood is also used for making pool cue shafts, wooden baseball bats. Maple wood is also often used for ornamental purposes such as bonsais, professional drums, syrup, smoking chips, and timber.

Maple wood is characterized for its white color and its tight and even grain. It does not have visible pores running through the wood, like some other types of wood, including oak. The lack of visible pores leaves a much smoother surface on all cuts. However, the lack of pores also does not allow maple to absorb dark stains, which means the staining the wood, a wood characteristic is out of the question. Furthermore, over time maple tend to grow yellowish.

Rosewood refers to the wood of different trees, including trees from the Tipuana, Pterocarpus and Dalbergia genera of trees. These genera contain various types of tropical or subtropical leguminous trees that are most commonly found in Central and South America, Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia.

The wood was named ‘rosewood’ as the older trees have a very sweet and rich aroma, which is reminiscent of roses. This is especially true for the Brazilian or Rio rosewood.

Rosewood is best known for its dark brownish and/or reddish hue with darker veining. The rose wood has close, dense grain, which makes it strong and durable. Hence, the wood is used for making furniture, especially cabinets. The use of rosewood to make furniture date back hundreds of years, with many examples of antique rosewood furniture being available for viewing in museums today.

Some types of rosewood, such as Honduran rosewood, have an excellent resonance that makes them ideal for musical instruments like guitars, pianos and marimbas. Rosewood is also used to make handles, flooring, billiard cues, chess pieces, etc. In fact, handles made of rosewood resist shrinkage and are long-lasting.

Also, furniture made from rosewood can be left unfinished due to the rosewood’s natural color, lightly waxed, or heavily varnished and polished, as rosewood is able to take polish very well. This gives rosewood a more finished look.

Due to the popularity and subsequent high demand for rosewood, many species of tree belonging to the genus Dalbergia, from which most rosewood in the western world is sourced are now listed as either endangered or vulnerable by the ‘Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’ or simply known as CITES.

Both, maple and rosewood are also commonly used for the fret boards in guitars. As fret boards, Maple is considered to be brighter than rosewood. However, most claim that the wood of the frets hardly make any difference to the sound of the guitar and that the actual difference between the two types of frets is purely aesthetic, i.e. visual. 

Image Courtesy: wood-database.com, tjweb.org

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