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Thread: How to get spalted maple

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Catalunya
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    How to get spalted maple

    Hi there.

    I'de like to make a project with spalted maple but I can't find any place here where they sell it as such, and sorting through the whole pile of boards to find one is out of question even tiping the lumber store guy.

    I've read somewhere that spalting is created by the fungus that invade the wood as part of the decay process, and I thought that maybe burying a board in the garden for some months could make it develop some spalting as I've read again sowhere else that has been done with some results.

    Has anybody tried that? or has anybody more information that could help?

    Thanks in advance.
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  2. #2
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    Jul 2008
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    Alexandria, Virginia
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    Toni,

    Take a look at this and this and this.

    Google helps.



  3. #3
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    Oct 2006
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    Tokyo Japan
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    Yep, I did it myself, with some pieces, I did not mean to, they just spalted

    I cut them in to rough round blanks, and sealed them up, then I left them in the Dungeon annex for about 4 months, I guess the humidity and temps in there were just right, no dirt, just a cool dark damp warm place

    The results ow which you can see here......

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The Blue Keyaki is related to Elm.

    I'd suggest you try some, but the wood has to be wet inside, so dunking it in water for a few days might help with that

    Good luck, if you decide to do this, document it with pictures so we will all know how you did it
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
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    Jul 2008
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    A Safety Note

    There are experienced and inexperienced woodworkers on this site so for those who haven't had the pleasure of creating a masterpiece from spalted wood, a word of caution.

    • Work in a well ventilated area or where dust control is maximized,
    • Use a suitable dust mask or respirator,
    • Wash hands frequently to minimize transfer of spores to digestive or respiratory tracks,
    • Clean (wipe down) tools, jigs, and equipment after use,
    • Minimize exposure to pets and other family members,
    • Educate yourself on health issues related to working with spalted wood.



  5. #5
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    Oct 2006
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    Excellent points, Frank. I've got a couple pieces of madrone burl that have been sitting in a sealed garbage bag for months. Last I looked at them, they were covered in black mold. I intend to be extra cautious with those two pieces.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  6. #6
    I got a webpage of my website dedicated to Spalted Wood. You can take a look at it here.

    I use it all the time on my custom wooden models as its a wood that tends to generate the most interest...as in "what is that piece of wood."

    I like to use Beech as the wood because it spalts the best and is very predictable, but any number of woods can spalt and I have a list of those on my webpage. Generally speaking its pretty easy to spalt wood. The biggest thing is torealize its a kind of thing that requires small pieces. Anything longer then 2 feet and you get some rather sparse splating in the middle.

    I cut my wood into 2 foot sections. This is logs in the round, and not sawn into boards yet. I put these outside next to the edge of a woodsline/field and let nature work on them. In 6 months I roll the rounds over 180 so that the spalting is even. If its hot and dry where you live, douse them with water every now and then,though in Maine where its humid and wet,that is not needed. After a year I put the rounds on the bandsaw and make boards or blocks from the wood. You can also use an ax and a router to make flat boards from spalted wood.

    Here is my web page on this...

    http://www.railroadmachinist.com/Log_Spalted_Wood.html
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Catalunya
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    Thanks everybody! As a start I'll take a piece of hard maple I have, wich is not big enough for a cabinet but maybe for a box. I promise to document it step by step and post it at the end.

    It is a sort of intriguing project, that traines up patience isn't it?
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  8. #8
    Having read most of the links provided and the answers from several knowledgeable folks I would consider burying in the compost heap after you treat the end grain.

    I accidently got some going from some dried wood that was left outside, ground contact and under a pile of firewood. Whilst clearing the mess I sawed in two a piece and saw the markings so I rescued the piece for a Jewelery box (not yet finished but soon and picture posting will occur)
    The presence of moisture and being left alone where fungus spores are in large quanity is the best method.

  9. #9
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    Nov 2006
    Location
    Houston, Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
    Generally speaking its pretty easy to spalt wood. The biggest thing is torealize its a kind of thing that requires small pieces. Anything longer then 2 feet and you get some rather sparse splating in the middle.

    Here is my web page on this...

    http://www.railroadmachinist.com/Log_Spalted_Wood.html
    Hi Travis ,
    Always appreciate your input, thanks for your devotion to this place.
    Must differ with you on the part you noted, now noted above, highlighted in red.
    I have two pieces of book matched pecan (I believe it is pecan) spalted clear through end to end. Each piece is about 2 1/2" thick, about 25" wide and about 11' long. This is not an exception as I have seen many more boards in board feet, in pecan, hackberry and sycamore.
    I would not have believed it had I not been there to see it happen, multiple days, multiple logs, some 36-42" diameter. Guess I got two of the small slabs but they are sweet. There was enough and more for me to do a home theater for a Dr. with the spalted pecan, so of all people, you, don't stop short! Go for the big ones.
    Shaz
    P.S. Thanks Stu for a little input and a tremenduous look at that beautiful bowl!!!!!!!
    Last edited by Robert Schaubhut; 08-23-2008 at 12:15 AM.
    I am a registered voter and you can be too. We ( registered voters ) select the moderators for this forum by voting every six months for the people we want to watch over this family forum.
    Please join me. Register now.
    Shaz
    Here is how

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tyler, Texas
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    336
    Toni,

    There is an article in the August 2008 (No. 199) edition of Fine Woodworking magazine about diy spalting wood. Here's a few points form the article.

    • The ideal environment for spalting to occur is in a dark place with 80% humidity and 80 degrees F temperature.
      • Kiln dried wood will need to have the fungal spores introduced. You can gather them from the woods or even from your firewood stack . Air dried wood already has the spores present .
      • The author used a long, shallow plastic container. A layer of vermiculite (from a garden center) was placed in the bottom and dampened. Then the board was placed inside and covered with more damp vermiculite. The boards were checked after six weeks and every two weeks thereafter until satisfactory spalting was observed.
      • You can also use a plastic bag instead of a bin but don't seal the bag. The fungi require oxygen. If you seal it you will encourage black mold instead.
      • There is a misconception among woodworkers that spalted wood is particularly dangerous. Most fungal spores are no more dangerous than normal wood dust. If you sand spalted wood, wear a dust mask but if you have immune system disorders, don't work with it at all.


    Hope this helps.
    Cody


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