Spalted maple durability

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Forum topic by Twdmar posted 02-28-2019 02:43 AM 2096 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 802 days

02-28-2019 02:43 AM

How durable is the commercially available spalted maple? Does it resist impact very well? I am going to build a 3 ply target rifle stock that is pretty stout. I was leaning toward a hard maple center section around an inch thick and ambrosia maple on the sides. The stock with be for 308 win. My question is, will spalted maple stand up to the forces a rifle stock undergoes?

12 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile


2956 posts in 3213 days

#1 posted 02-28-2019 11:42 AM

Welcome to the forum!

Only answer to your question is maybe. Would not be my frist choice if cannot see or feel the wood. Essentially would not buy unseen!

Have harvested and turned a lot of different spalted wood species and have thrown a lot away. Really don’t know a source of commerically avaialble spalted wood.

Would look for a vendor selling quarter sawn wood that has been air drying for couple years! There is a grading system gun stock wood know standard grade might be least expensive. Any flaws should be very slight, and easily filled.

-- Bill

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5986 posts in 3429 days

#2 posted 02-28-2019 02:30 PM

Spalting while beautiful is basically rotten wood. It is a fungal attack into the wood structure that creates the unusual patterns and ink lines. It is usually softer than normal maple and often has spongy spots. For your purposes I would not choose it unless it was stabilized with acrylic resin, a process that will make it much more expensive.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Dustin's profile


707 posts in 1819 days

#3 posted 02-28-2019 03:21 PM

I could quite easily be mistaken, but I believe you’re referring to two different things re spalting vs ambrosia. Ambrosia maple is caused by an infestation of ambrosia beetles, where I believe spalting refers to a more general fungal infection/decomposition. I used some ambrosia maple to make a small, shallow appliance table for a friend’s kitchen. I’ve had spalted wood that was soft and spongy, but the ambrosia maple didn’t have any noticeably significant softer parts than my plain maple boards. Of course, I could have gotten lucky, so YMMV.

-- "Ladies, if your husband says he'll get to it, he'll get to it. No need to remind him about it every 6 months."

View JayT's profile


6424 posts in 3289 days

#4 posted 02-28-2019 04:37 PM

^ Dustin is spot on with ambrosia and spalt being different.

Ambrosia maple will be as strong as any other maple of the same species. You will have the beetle holes, but they can be filled with clear or black epoxy.

Spalting depends on how much. A little spalting will not drastically affect the strength, especially if you are laminating around a solid piece. If it is too far gone toward the soft and spongy, that’s a different story. Something like the first pic below, I wouldn’t hesitate to use for your application, if it’s as far as the bottom table top, then nope.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Twdmar's profile


10 posts in 802 days

#5 posted 02-28-2019 05:25 PM

Thanks everyone, I was leaning towards the ambrosia but thought I’d ask. If I use a center lamination of hard maple, that would absorb most of the shock and provide significant strength. I will see what I can lay my hands on but as you’ve all mentioned if its soft its gonna be a no go. This will be on a target rifle so the hardest use it will see is getting put in the truck, which can still be hard. The outer lamination mostly provide a little extra wood to flesh out the stock.

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682 posts in 1763 days

#6 posted 02-28-2019 08:54 PM

At least in my area, north east, most ambrosia maple is soft/red maple. The beetle marks don’t impact the structural integrity like spalting would, but it’s not as hard a species as rock/sugar maple. The link below may help

View Andybb's profile


3270 posts in 1682 days

#7 posted 02-28-2019 09:13 PM

I’d be more worried about denting. Spalt is soft and would probably dent easier.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Twdmar's profile


10 posts in 802 days

#8 posted 03-01-2019 03:55 AM

I d be more worried about denting. Spalt is soft and would probably dent easier.

- Andybb

Denting is my biggest concern with the spalted wood. That is the major point in favor of the ambrosia. I’d love to find a piece of mango but that is not easy to get around here.

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3270 posts in 1682 days

#9 posted 03-01-2019 04:00 AM

Just curious what most gun stocks are made of like a Browning shotgun? Is it stuff that is usually high on the hardness scale?

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Twdmar's profile


10 posts in 802 days

#10 posted 03-01-2019 02:32 PM

Walnut is probably the most common wood on a browning. Birch is used on cheaper wood stocked rifles often. Laminate is also common.

View Woodknack's profile


13557 posts in 3458 days

#11 posted 03-01-2019 02:45 PM

American black walnut is a medium hard furniture wood, red maple is only a little below it in hardness. English walnut is a little bit harder. I wouldn’t worry about shock, if a rifle kicked hard enough to break the stock it would break your shoulder, unless you used really crappy wood. The denting factor is a legit concern. I have no experience with commercial spalted lumber but I have milled spalted maple from my property and the outer sapwood was punky and soft but had amazing spalting. The heartwood was hard but had less spalting.

-- Rick M,

View LiveEdge's profile


600 posts in 2698 days

#12 posted 03-01-2019 08:02 PM

Just a FYI, but ambrosia maple IS spalting that comes specifically after being attacked by the ambrosia beetle. So if you are worried about stability problems with one you should also worry about it for the other. The only difference in my eyes would be the extent of the spalting might be much less with ambrosia maple. In other words, if you are fine with ambrosia maple, you would also be fine with mildly spalted wood.

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