Does anyone have any experience with spalted soft Maple. I can get
some rough cut air dried stuff, and I thought it might make an
interesting contrasting wood for a project that I plan to otherwise
make out of cherry and possibly white oak. I've never built anything
with constrasting woods before. Does this sound like good choices to
get a pleasing contrast? What is Spalted Maple like to work with?
Any comments would be appreciated.
Cherry, yes. Definitely yes. The contrast between cherry and maple makes for
beautiful pieces. They go very well together.
White oak, I'm not so sure about. There's a huge difference in grain
appearance, as well as in color, between oak and maple. IMO, it looks best
when the woods contrast in color, but resemble in grain. E.g cherry or walnut,
paired with maple or birch, but not with ash or oak IMO.
As long as it's sound and not "punky", it's just like working with maple that
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt.
And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
Lots of "soft maple" types out there. Most common commercial in the east is
A rubrum, which spalts toward gray, with fairly large brown heartwood
lagging behind. In my experience, there is very little contrast between the
heartwood and something like cherry. So I'd look at the boards and choose
those with a minimum of heartwood, which is going to take a long time to
spalt anyway. You can then resaw and book the heartwood if you can't get
enough boards of pure sapwood. Works well, save where you can actually see
the white rot areas, where the lignin has been eaten away. It's lignin that
makes it wood rather than straw.
NB - if you're a molds allergy guy, protect yourself. There's plenty of
mycotoxin in the wood. Spores in the bark, if bark's still there.
I have used spalted maple for quite a few projects, with great results.
Tung oil brings out the color and features beautifully. Depending on how it
will be used, a top finish is useful.
When selecting the wood, look for some that is still hard and dense.
Spalting is an early element of decay, so don't try to use wood that is
light in weight and too far along. You show good sense in approaching the
I built my grandson a toy box with spalted maple panels and cherry frame and
top. The color contrast was very nice. It will pair up with other woods,
too. Try small test pieces finished as you will do to see what you will
get. Have fun. Good luck.
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