Spalded Maple Raised panel blanket chest

  • Advertise with us
Project by Roz posted 01-16-2008 07:45 PM 5145 views 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I build this in 2002 of Spalted Maple. I had read in some woodworking mags that Spadting did not affect the structural integrality of the wood, but I have found that not to be entirely true. This chest turned out well. I bought the lumber in Wisconsin and built it at the naval base shop at Great Lakes IL.

I rabbited the corners and used stile and rail construction for the panels. The top is bread boarded on the ends. The inside is line in 1/4” tongue and grove Eastern Red Cedar. I installed a bead on the inside of the lid to create a seal and insect barrier. (We have a lot of them in LA) I built a small drawer into the bottom to hold small items for easy locating. The Lid is held safely up by purpose built cabinet lid hinges from Stanley. The finish is a medium brown stain and three coats of lacquer sprayed on.

The project turned out great, them I moved it to Alabama and the spalted wood began to show its strips. The Maple is not as stable as it would otherwise be without the molds work. The black streaks of the mold are nice, as are the leopard looking spots. However, the wood expanded and bowed in the humidity in a few spots leaving uneven edges on the top and a small gap at the top of the stile in the center of the front panel.

I learned from the experience and the casual observer would not likely notice the problems. However, you all will no doubt see it with your trained eyes. We use it and it works well otherwise.

I build another chest of it and hand cut the dovetails. It worked well. The trouble I had with it was that the lacquer finish tends to lift off. The wood is pretty.

If you have thought of using Spalted wood, I recommend you pick it out carefully. My friend Steve Turner and I bought an entire cutting from The Mullers in Wisconsin. Most of it was fine, but some of the best-looking pieces I should have tossed.

If you can suggest things that might help me avoid problems when I use it, please let me know. Thanks for looking.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

12 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4349 days

#1 posted 01-16-2008 08:30 PM

Very good job! I bet the inside smells great!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View rpmurphy509's profile


288 posts in 4215 days

#2 posted 01-16-2008 09:18 PM

I’ve used spalted wood before with absolutely no issues.
Spalting varies by species and how advanced it is, as well as the age of the
wood before being milled/used. Spalted wood is actually a fungus that
inhabits the tree (usually/always?) after death and eats the wood fibers.

If I am not mistaken (and I could be), you need to stop the growth
of the fungi somehow. Using a seal coat of an alcohol based finish
or stain should do nicely. Kiln drying the lumber will also kill the fungi.

If the spalting is advanced, it could sacrifice the structural integrity of
the wood you’re using, so care should be made in milling the wood for
the project. Think of spalted wood as a real pretty rot and adjust your
plans accordingly.

That is a real nice chest you’ve got there.

-- Still learning everything

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4147 days

#3 posted 01-16-2008 09:31 PM

rpmurphy, It is clear to me you are correct about the spalted wood. My problems could be explained by your descriptions. I think the mold is dead. I haven’t seen any indications of it progressing. The fellows I purchased the wood from told me that drying the wood killed the mold. I hope so.

Gary K, Yes, it does smell nice.

thanks to you both.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View CharlieM1958's profile


16282 posts in 4579 days

#4 posted 01-16-2008 09:40 PM

Very nice.

I’m wondering if moving it to a pervasively moist climate like South Alabama didn’t play a role in the wood changes you experienced.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 4352 days

#5 posted 01-16-2008 09:45 PM

Nice Job Terry.. Here in Florida we have to let any lumber we order acclimate for quite a while.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4607 days

#6 posted 01-16-2008 10:13 PM

You need to be very careful with spalted lumber. I had an experience about a year or more ago which it had gotten into my eyes and sinus. Eventually sending me to the eye Dr. She was quite befuddled, but knew it looked like some kind of fungal disease. Then it dawned on me as to what I had been turning, spalted maple. After a round of anti biotics and eye drops I finally got rid of it. Since then I am very carful turning spalted anything. You never know if that fungus is dead or not. Just a word of warning. Be on the safe side and wear breathing protection and eye protection. mike. I love spalted wood too. Your project is excellent.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4235 days

#7 posted 01-16-2008 10:24 PM

Nice looking chest Roz. Good advice Mike.

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4147 days

#8 posted 01-17-2008 08:39 AM

CharileM, I think the climate change definitely caused the trouble, but my guess is that the wood reacted more violently to the climate change because of structural weakness from what amount to decay.

jockmike2, you are 100% right about the wood. I am not as good as I should be about safety gear. I have used some other woods that I know cause health problems if the dust is inhaled, like Black Ash and Osage Orange (Called Mock Orange down here). Osage grows into a large tree this far south.

Chris, you make a good point too. Here we have to give the lumber time to adjust to the climate it will be used in too. Air-conditioned interiors of houses are much less humid than say August in the deep south.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View Jiri Parkman's profile

Jiri Parkman

953 posts in 4173 days

#9 posted 02-06-2008 11:19 AM

Great chest.

-- Jiri

View GaryBuck's profile


268 posts in 3587 days

#10 posted 07-30-2009 05:32 PM

O.K. after joining this group about 5 days now and don’t get me wrong I think it is the greatest site I’ve ever came across and love getting on here, I actually look forward to jumping on here first thing in the a.m. but one thing that I have learned is I NEED TO LEARN A LOT MORE!!!!!! L.O.L. I have worked with wood quite a bit {remoldeling houses fixing things that break restoring etc.} But I now know I don’t know as much as I thought. sometimes you guys jump way over my head with terminoligy I guess would discribe it and with the feed back sometimes I get the answers but sometimes I just say WHAT??? Like for example with this one you stated,, I rabbited the corners and used stille and rail construction for the panels the top is bread boarded on the ends??? Now for most of you this probably makes since. me being the brain dead dummy I am,,, all I could say was what? So if when some of you are desribing these can you give a brief explanation for some of us that get lost. I know it would be a GREAT help to at least me. Sometimes I can figure it out but some times I don’t have a clue. Just thought I pass that along. Everybody keep up the good work I’m 99% satisfied just once in awhile I just scratch my head L.O.L. Thanks

View GaryBuck's profile


268 posts in 3587 days

#11 posted 07-30-2009 05:39 PM

Roz,, just wanted to add I wasn’t complaining, I reread what I wrote and it sure sounded that way. I think you do great work, and really enjoy looking at your work and reading what you have to say Keep it up.

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4147 days

#12 posted 07-30-2009 11:26 PM

I’ll try,
A bread board end is made by placing a board across the end grains of a glued up panel. This board is slotted and attached to allow for movement as the wood swells and contracts. It is done at both ends. I used this method to build the top.

stile and rail construction is the name use for making a frame around a “raised panel”. The completed assembly usually makes up a end, door or front panel on a large piece of furniture.

Keep asking questions, you’ll soon have it down. Roz

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics