I’ve always wanted to try making my own maple syrup. From past reading, I knew it was easy to do, didn’t require a lot of paraphernalia, and was relatively idiot proof.

So I decided this was the year. I took a 1-hour class, bought my equipment and picked out two beautiful old Maple trees right off my deck. I’m not looking to go into business–I just want to make enough for my family, so two trees ought to be plenty.

All I had to do was wait for the daytime temps to get above freezing with nighttime temps still below freezing. (For most areas, that’s somewhere between February and March.)

bucket Tube spileStep 1: Clean Equipment

Gather and wash all equipment—bucket with lid, taps (spiles), tubing—with 1 part bleach to 20 parts water. Rinse well and dry.





drill and battery chargerStep 2: Gather Drill Stuff

Gather drill and correct drill bit (5/16 in my case as I’m using 5/16 taps). Most spiles require either a 7/16 or 5/16 bit. Make sure drill battery is charged. You might want to put a piece of tape at 2 inches from the tip on the drill bit, so you know how far to drill for the tap.




drill tap holeStep 3: Drill the Hole

Select undamaged trees. Drill the hole and set tap on south side of tree for sun exposure. Drilling at a slight upward angle encourages the downward flow of sap from the hole. Place the tap hole above a large root or below a large branch if you can. If you’re hanging a bucket, 3 feet high is good.  If you’ve tapped the tree before, make sure the new tap is at least 6 inches from the previous tap hole. If your tree’s circumference is big enough to use more than one tap, space them at least several inches apart.

set tapStep 4: Set Tap

Brush off wood shavings from the edge of the hole. Insert the spile into the tap hole. Gently tap the spile into the tree with a hammer (if you pound the spile into the tree, it can cause the wood to split). If the sap is flowing, you should immediately see sap dripping from the spile. Actually, you’ll see the sap run out of the hole, as soon as you drill it.



tubes into bucketStep 5: Hook Up Tubing to Bucket

Select trees that aren’t damaged. Drill the hole and set tap on