Don, what are the dimensions of your timber there, and of the original log?
Today I cut down a hard sugar maple tree and I am hewing a 25' section of it right now. The log has an average diameter of about 10 1/2 to 11" at one end and about 8 to 8 1/2" at the other end, I am hewing a 6x6 timber out of it, with one end just a little bit wany.
Part of the reason is I wanted to see how well maple does. I want to see how easily it hews and how stable it is afterward. How much it checks and cracks as it dries, etc.
My experience with hard maple tells me that it is a dimensionally stable wood, meaning it does not check, twist, bend, bow, cup, or warp excessively. But it does expand and contract a bit from season to season which is a disadvantage in some situations. As I am writing this I am sitting at my desk that I built a few years ago entirely out of solid hard maple with a solid 27" top that has not had a bit of trouble not being in a climate controlled environment.
This wood is very stiff (similar to black cherry, which has been used in framing), has a very high crushing strength, is straight grained (it is an excellent wood to make arrows out of because it is very easy to find perfectly straight grain), and around here we happen to have an over abundance of it (to the point where it is advisable to remove some of the smaller trees to allow the neighboring and much more valuable cherry and walnut trees to grow)
As far as hewing, I found it to be surprisingly easy. A good heavy axe swims through it easily, and the straight grain makes a fine partner in the process. It notches very easily, which is surprising because it is very hard and very tight-grained, both properties that make wood resistant to cutting.
What opinions do you all have about maple for use in structural applications? I know I have heard that hard maple is particularly well suited to use as bracing because of its high crushing strength and low bending. I am wondering how it can handle larger spans