Birdseye maple gets its name from its unusual appearance, in which tiny swirling "eyes" disrupt the regular flow of the natural wood grain. No one knows exactly what causes this unique look, and since there are no clear indicators for what causes it, it is also a very difficult type of maple wood to find. All of these factors add up to make birdseye one of the rarest, most sought after, and expensive woods on the market.
Perfect for Furniture
Besides unrivaled appearance and beauty, birdseye maple is also excellent in make-up for turning on a lathe and other processes that make it well suited smaller scale wood working projects. From cutting boards on up to large fine furniture, birdseye is a pleasure for any artisan to work with. Furthermore, once it's finished it is incredibly resistant to scratches and other damage, again making it ideal for building furniture. Don't expect to install birdseye countertops or hardwood floors into your home, however, unless you're on the Forbes 100 Richest People in the World list. A custom made rocker tooled from birdseye maple can run upwards of $15,000, and even a small cutting board will cost you a hundred big ones. With prices like that, birdseye maple is best used by expert craftsmen to make high quality, individual custom pieces of furniture.
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The highest price tags of this maple wood are for the most common sugar maple variety, but it's important to note that birdseye grain can occur in several varieties of timber. Red maple, white ash, Cuban mahogany, American beech, black walnut, and yellow birch all have demonstrated a tendency towards birdseye grain. None of it is cheap, but the price for this wood will fluctuate depending on the tree it comes from. Also, pay attention to the frequency of the birdseye if you're in the market. More eyes in the maple wood means a higher price, so if you're looking for birdseye but don't need top-grade wood, ask for something a little further down the totem pole.