What is Curly Maple?

Left: Maple, Right: Curly Maple

Left: Maple, Right: Curly Maple

Curly maple is also knowns as tiger maple, fiddleback maple, or flame maple. It is not a special species of maple, but rather it refers to the special grain in the wood. The ripples in the grain create a three dimensional effect, though it is not completely clear what causes this phenomenon. 

In general, higher grades of curly maple tend to be more expensive than standard maple. When curly maple is roasted, it accentuates the curly effects in the wood, making your cutting board or block, or serving board even more beautiful.

"Flame maple (tiger maple), also known as flamed maple, curly maple, ripple maple, fiddleback or tiger stripe, is a feature of maple in which the growth of the wood fibers is distorted in an undulating chatoyant pattern, producing wavy lines known as "flames". This effect is often mistakenly said to be part of the grain of the wood; it is more accurately called "figure", as the distortion is perpendicular to the grain direction. Prized for its beautiful appearance, it is used frequently in the manufacturing of musical instruments, such as violins and bassoons, and fine furniture. Another well-known use of the material is its use in guitars, especially the venerated Gibson Les Paul. The Gibson Les Paul "Standard", initially manufactured from 1958 to 1960, sported a flame maple top finished in a cherry-red sunburst on a mahogany body. Today, these instruments are some of the most prized on the vintage guitar market, and as such are unaffordable to most musicians." Source