Soft maple is a lumber term, not species of tree. This normally refers to the cousin of the hard maple tree. Amish craftsmen often use soft, or brown maple as many Amish refer to it, for paint grade pieces. This wood is about 25% softer than hard maple and places it in the category of cherry and walnut. The wood is usually straight grained and smooth.
Consumer note: Amish like to use soft maple for their painted and dye stained furniture.. The lower cost of the wood and saves the consumer money. The smooth grain pattern takes the paint very well giving a smooth, rich finish.