Spalted Maple slabs...first time I cut them and need advice!

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Forum topic by Matt Pec posted 11-05-2010 05:24 PM 3233 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Matt Pec

21 posts in 3757 days

11-05-2010 05:24 PM

I recently cut these nice, 8/4 Spalted Soft Maple slabs. I think they’re beautiful and will use them myself if I can’t sell them but what I would like to know is: where do professional woodworkers draw the line between spalted and rotted Maple?

These slabs are highly spalted and physically solid (I can knock on them and they sound solid throughout and will hold 200lbs+ no problem if I lay them between 2 supports like cinder blocks). I just don’t want to try to sell something that a serious woodworker would consider poor quality. The 2nd piece from the left (top pic) I trashed since the backside was spongy, otherwise they’re solid. Any advice?

-- hswoodcutting, "Catchy sayings are fun but I'm in it for the wood."

7 replies so far

View Anthony Finelli's profile

Anthony Finelli

52 posts in 3757 days

#1 posted 11-05-2010 06:47 PM

Matt, I can only speak for myself but when I buy slabs I check for spongy material and visable fracture lines. It also depends on the piece that I am looking to build. Sometimes a spot of rot or even a rotten section in the middle of the board can be removed and integrated into a piece for character…I build rustic furniture so many of the people I build for like the wood to have “character” and as long as the rot can be removed and not effect the structural component of the piece I use it. So for me it really comes down to strength of the piece….someone who builds fine furniture or heirloom furniture may have different views on it…

-- Salem, New York "Find something you love to do and you will never have to work another day of your life"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5195 days

#2 posted 11-05-2010 07:12 PM

I pretty much agree with the above.

Based just on the photos, these look perfectly usable to me.

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

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 3815 days

#3 posted 11-05-2010 07:28 PM

I also build rustic- If the extremely spongy stuff can be removed and the rest stabilized with epoxy I use it. I like the look of distressed wood, but like you I don’t want a piece of wood that is completely compromised.
Whether I can use the board, or only parts of the board depends on what I want to do with the wood, and where the soft sparts are. Try and sell it but it will probably to sold to someone who builds rustic/contemporary rustic. If you keep it yourself ENJOY IT! Build something really cool and post it online!

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Sawmillnc's profile


150 posts in 4031 days

#4 posted 11-05-2010 11:56 PM

If you can pick it out with your finger nails it is too far gone.

I would also recommend drying them in a kiln if you have access to stop any insect infestation.

-- Kyle Edwards,, Iron Station , NC (near Charlotte)

View Matt Pec's profile

Matt Pec

21 posts in 3757 days

#5 posted 11-08-2010 01:19 AM

Thanks everyone for the feedback. Seems like as long as it’s not rotted it’s a personal preference thing. They seem fine to me and I’ll find out what locals think! I can always use them myself if no one else likes them. Kyle—you have quite a setup man! Love the woodmizer…maybe one day I’ll put down my chainsaw mill and stop killing my back!

-- hswoodcutting, "Catchy sayings are fun but I'm in it for the wood."

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4214 days

#6 posted 11-09-2010 03:27 PM

If I’ve got any soft spots in maple, I use West Systems marine grade epoxy thinned with 15% acetone. When thinned, it flows like water and fills the soft spots. But, don’t depend on stabilized wood for structural areas of your project.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4714 days

#7 posted 11-09-2010 04:37 PM

Just mark out the soft sections and defects ( checks, etc ) and do your layout with what is left on each board. It is no different than laying out any other board in the rough.

One thing to remember is to use a proper respirator when working with spalted woods. They can ruin ones health very quickly. Some lung infections can be debilitating for a lifetime. I use fans, vacuums and fresh air when working with spalted wood.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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