Just saw the back cover of Feb 04 FWW. There's a stereo cabinet by
Gary Upton that uses splalted maple. I looked "spalted" up in Websters
and I did a google search -- I was not successful in finding what the
word spalted menas or in how to make spalted maple -- or maybe it
grows that way -- I don't know.
It certainly was strinking, though!
Anybody know about this stuff?
Natural spalting is usually caused by mold, fungus, insects or disease in a
tree or log ... some folks cause it to happen by leaving logs, or future
turning blanks, in places that are conducive to the growth of the mold or
fungus for a few months.
Spalting makes wild, and often pretty, dark colored streaks in the grain
Isn't it when a paintball company uses maple as a feature in their course
and then it get "splated" by paintballs?
Oh....you meant "spalted".... That's the result of the natural decay
process. You have to catch the wood just at the right time and it sure is
New question on spalted wood. Is there such a thing as spalted oak? I ask
because I have some oak that has some very dark (black) figuring in the
grain. I am wondering if this is also spalted wood. Sure makes a pretty
contrast tho'. Thanks for any information. Larry
Could be. Most non-durable woods will spalt, in varying degrees of
attractiveness. Maple's very light color makes it an obvious feature when the
rot darkens around the edges. Spalting is usually a light brown color darkening
to brown. Not always, though. White oak is less likely to spalt, because it is
fairly durable. Oak has a heavy load of tannic acids, too, so if the mineral
inclusions from the soil include ferrous types, that black may be from iron in
the wood...or it might be from someone wiping the wood down with 0000 steel
wool and cleaning it carelessly.
"Man is a reasoning rather than a reasonable animal."
For some reason, I can't see the original post, so I'll reply against yours.
Spalting occurs naturally when timber has been felled and the butts left to
lie. We've all seen felled trees on the forest floor which have lain there
for years, with fungus growing on it, particularly on the cut surfaces.
Well, it's this fungus (or the tendrils thereof - forget the proper term)
which causes spalting. This can be as little as dark lines running
throughout the butt, so that when the butt is cut open they show up as a
fantastic irregular tracery, particularly on light woods, such as beech,
maple, sycamore etc, almost like a blue-black pen drawing. In a more
advanced state, there may be areas of the timber with large variation in
The fungi which cause spalting are kin to the fungi which cause dry rot in
timber, and timber which is spalting, is, in effect, decaying, and you have
to catch it at the right stage. Too soon and there won't be much of a
pattern; too late and the structure of the wood breaks down and you're left
Spalting relies on the timber being wet, typically above 22-25% MC - lower
than that and the fungus won't grow, again a bit like dry rot. You can
cause spalting to occur by bagging your green logs in impermeable plastic
bags and leaving it for a couple of years. I've had this happen
accidentally. To stop the spalting process, you simply dry the timber -
well, maybe not so simply, as there are umpty-ump methods for drying timber
in the round, all of which attempt to dry the timber throughout, without it
shaking, ie developing large splits.
Timbers which are resistant to fungal attack don't spalt easily, but even
oak can break down in time. If you DAGS using "spalted oak" as your
keywords, you'll find a lot of woodturning sites, which showcase this
Because of the decaying nature of the timber, it can be structurally weak,
so you wouldn't use very spalted wood in a load-bearing capacity. The old
chippies used to call it "doaty" timber. Don't know where the term comes
from. It's much used in turning, but again, it's apt to fly off or break up
on the lathe if it's far gone, and the dust from it is reputed to be pretty
bad stuff to breathe. Because of its often crumbly nature, it can be
difficult to get a good finish. You can get stabilising compounds which
firm up the crumbling portions.
On Sat, 20 Dec 2003 23:26:40 -0500, "larry in cinci"
In general, no. Oak is full of tannin, and not much wants to eat it.
The benign little spalting fungi that will happily do beech and maple
in their delicate fashion just can't hack it.
Anything hairy-arsed enough to deal with gobbling up bitter old oak is
probably going to ruin the cell structure of the timber in doing it.
It's "spalted" in the end, but it's also a rotten spongey mush and
useless. I'm not sure which rot it is, but our usual oak rot is a soft
white sponge that starts in the sapwood but then works inwards.
One fungal infection that is interesting in oak is "brown oak". This
is caused by the beefsteak fungus (hepaticus), a large bracket fungus
that's known for its oozing red flesh if you cut into it. This turns
the whole trunk an even dark brown colour (a bit like ammonia fuming).
If the fungi are there long enough, the whole trunk comes out quite
even and the timber is highly prized. Small infestations can be just a
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