County Line Lumber & Hardware carries both red oak and soft maple out of Missouri. When trying to choose between the two, there are a few things to be considered.
Best uses are: Red Oak, Cabinetry, indoor furniture, interior trim, flooring, support beams, and veneer. Soft Maple, Millwork, kitchen cabinets, furniture, pallets, crates, basket veneer.
Scent: Soft maple is known to be odorless whereas red oak has a distinct scent which I find to be quite pleasant.
Grain and Texture: Red Oak has a distinct grain and texture. Oak can display rings, strips, flecks, wavy figures, or other complex patterns, which is a trait that maple wood does not possess. Red oak is most commonly a reddish-brown color. It has medium-to-large pores and a coarse and porous grain. Soft maple has growth rings that are barely visible, but light brown streaks are common along the grain. It can develop an aesthetically pleasing curl and is considered a fine textured wood.
Workability: Red oak is considered to be very strong and resistant to dents and scratches. Red oak is easy to work with and responds well to steam bending. It is also easy to glue and takes stain very well. The main advantage of soft Maple is that it can be stained to look much like cherry wood. Maple is best for indoor projects, since it has no resistance to decay and since it is not considered to be as durable as other types of wood. It is rated medium to below average in terms of workability, so it is not the best choice for steam bending, or projects that involve a lot of shaping and boring.