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HAREWOOD

Acer pseudoplatanus


An illustrated discussion on the confusion among the names
lacewood, leopardwood, planetree, sycamore, silky oak and others

Acer pseudoplatanus of the family Aceraceae

This is just a species of maple. It is also called sycamore maple but it is what's called "sycamore" in England (or plane, or planetree, or English maple, or any number of other common names). The specific epithet means "false sycamore". Although this is a different maple species than what is normally sold in the USA as curly hard maple (Acer saccharum), I am not aware of any characteristics that would allow you to tell the wood from the two species apart (the TREES may be distinguishable, but I think the lumber/veneer is not). SO ... really, this is just another one of those maples that is sold in the USA as "hard maple" but since when it grows in England it is called harewood, I have given it its own page here.

Hoadley states that harewood is a name given in England to maple wood that is artificially dyed gray. In my experience, that is not the case in the USA, where the name is used as described in the paragraph above. I do note that a couple of the pics I found on the Internet, shown in the "web pics" section below are gray. My friend Mark Peet who is extremely knowledgeable about wood tells me that there is a chemical reaction of some kind (probably caused by a fungus) that occasionally occurs in some woods, particularly in Acer pseudoplatanus, that causes the wood to turn gray. Since this process was not fully understood and could not be forced, but for unknown reasons the wood was found attractive by some, a chemical bath process was devised to make the wood take on the same gray color, which is presumably where Hoadley's statement comes from.

my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K)
colors will vary under other lighting conditions


BOTH FACES OF THIS SAMPLE HAVE A LIGHT COAT OF CLEAR PASTE WAX
both sides of a sample plank of curly harewood / Acer pseudoplatanus --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Mark pointed out to me that this piece looks exactly like a piece of Norway maple that he has. There is no implication in that statement that either of those identifications are incorrect but rather that Acer pseudoplatanus and Acer platanoides can be indistinguishable at the level of a 10X loupe.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above. Note that the end grain closeup and the update directly below are shown here a bit too orange.


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- both faces of this sample have a light coat of clear paste wax
both sides of a sample plank of gray phase English sycamore maple / Acer pseudoplatanus --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Mark tells me that this "gray phase" is a temporary sap condition that turns the wood brown. I had never heard of it and a quick Internet search does not turn up any other references but Mark knows what he's talking about so I take his word for it.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


fiddleback veneer and closeup, sold to me as English sycamore


fiddleback veneer, sold to me as English sycamore

web pics:


planks, all from the same vendor and all listed as figured European maple / Acer pseudoplatanus


listed as figured English harewood


planks listed as English maple / Acer pseudoplatanus


plank listed as sycamore maple


plank listed as quartersawn curly English sycamore


planks listed as English sycamore


veneer, all from the same vendor and all listed as curly


veneer, all from the same vendor as the lot directly above and all listed as fiddleback


plank listed as fiddleback English sycamore


veneer listed as harewood


veneer listed as figured harewood


veneer listed as quartersawn figured harewood


veneer listed as quartersawn figured harewood


veneer listed as British sycamore / Acer pseudoplatanus. These four are, in order


veneer listed as steamed sycamore / Acer pseudoplatanus. These four are, in order


veneer sheets listed as English sycamore / Acer pseudoplatanus. Both levels of enlargement are present. Given the swirl in the grain, I think these must be rotary cut.


veneer listed as English sycamore


veneer listed as figured English sycamore (and in the enlargement you can tell that it DOES in fact have some figure --- a very faint fiddleback, not really worthy of the designation)


veneer listed as figured English sycamore


veneer listed as quartersawn curly English sycamore


cluster burl


harewood burl veneer


guitar back listed as sycamore maple


curly English sycamore platter


goblet of "London sycamore" shot at a woodworking show. HUGE enlargements are present. There is no finish on this piece. It is not completely clear whether this is Acer pseudoplatanus or not, but I'm going under the assumption that it is.