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Working with Spalted Maple

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Forum topic by controlfreak posted 08-02-2020 07:33 PM 436 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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controlfreak

1217 posts in 449 days


08-02-2020 07:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question padauk maple plane milling

It is really only the second time I have bought some wood other than what the big box stores have. The first was to make the jaw of my Moxon Vise. Other than that all of my projects have been shop related for storage, flipkarts etc. They had some stuff that was 50% off at Woodcraft and I got a piece of spalted maple just because I liked the crazy pattern. I want to use it with a contrasting wood like padauk for either finger joints or dovetail joints. As contemplate working it am am wondering if tearout is going to cause this to be a lesson in failure. I have some clear maple as a backup but still like that crazy pattern in the spalted maple. I also don’t have a low angle plane but that is a problem I would love to fix. “But honey my buddies said I have to buy one of these”


10 replies so far

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theoldfart

11998 posts in 3299 days


#1 posted 08-02-2020 07:56 PM

CF, just be careful with the spalted stock. It has the potential to be toxic if inhaled. The spalting is the result of the decay process. Microbes begin to feed on the wood creating mold like deposits, nasty stuff if your lungs are sensitive to such things. Stabilizing the wood helps make it workable and stronger. There are posts on LJ’s for stabilizing.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

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controlfreak

1217 posts in 449 days


#2 posted 08-02-2020 09:08 PM

Thanks OldFart, I looked that up but I don’t think that treatment will work for a longer board. I did know that I need a mask and was wanting to use hand tools to keep dust down. Does anyone know about the strength on this type of wood? I need to find something I can do with it like build a box or a drawer front or something. Maybe I will hit it with a plane and see what it does. Of course that means I will need to figure out the grain direction and that can’t be easy on what I have. I suppose I can make a bunch of small drawer fronts out of it for a future wall tool cabinet. Those I could do the vacuum treatment on but after that will it plane and smooth?

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tmasondarnell

138 posts in 2637 days


#3 posted 08-03-2020 12:53 AM

controlfreak,

The spalting will not cause problems with tear-out. As theoldfart said, the spalting is cause by microbes and does not affect the grain pattern.

If you were buying figured wood, like bird’s eye or quilted, then you have to worry about tear out. Figure is caused by the wood fibers turning and twisting.

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torus

485 posts in 1261 days


#4 posted 08-03-2020 05:24 PM


controlfreak,

The spalting will not cause problems with tear-out. As theoldfart said, the spalting is cause by microbes and does not affect the grain pattern.
...

- tmasondarnell

Spalting is caused by very specific fungi with very specific goals. It’s not caused by microbes according to the Wikipedia and Woodcraft articles ( have to do search to get the answer :) )

Go Spalt: A Beginner’s Guide

-- "It's getting better..." - put this on my RIP stone!

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LesB

2598 posts in 4291 days


#5 posted 08-03-2020 07:04 PM

The affect of Spaulding on wood varies with how long the fungi has been growing. Drying the wood stops further growth. Early on it will just leave discoloring and lines in the wood but as it progresses it breaks down the fibers and weakens it. In late stages it can get done right punky. End grain tear out can always be a problem with maple and if it has softened from the fungi then it may be worse.

If your wood still appears to be sound and dry then use it like regular Maple. You can test it with your thumb nail or a probe to see if there are soft spots.
And yes, the spores from the fungi can potentially do harm if it get in your lungs so use reasonable dust control that is true for all wood working.

-- Les B, Oregon

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tmasondarnell

138 posts in 2637 days


#6 posted 08-04-2020 01:24 AM


controlfreak,

The spalting will not cause problems with tear-out. As theoldfart said, the spalting is cause by microbes and does not affect the grain pattern.
...

- tmasondarnell

Spalting is caused by very specific fungi with very specific goals. It s not caused by microbes according to the Wikipedia and Woodcraft articles ( have to do search to get the answer :) )

Go Spalt: A Beginner’s Guide

- torus

Well, to be technically correct, all Fungi are microbes. “Microbe” is the same as microorganism….they are 6 type

“A fungus is a special type of microbe – “

http://microbemagic.ucc.ie/about_microbes/fungi.html#:~:text=A%20fungus%20is%20a%20special,on%20plants%20and%20in%20you!

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torus

485 posts in 1261 days


#7 posted 08-04-2020 03:10 AM


...
Well, to be technically correct, all Fungi are microbes. “Microbe” is the same as microorganism….they are 6 type

“A fungus is a special type of microbe – ”
...
- tmasondarnell

I did not know that… Thanks!

-- "It's getting better..." - put this on my RIP stone!

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

11998 posts in 3299 days


#8 posted 08-04-2020 03:25 AM

My intent was to warn against inhaling the dust from spalted wood. Wood dust is bad enough, dust combined with other biological elements increases your risk. As to the correct terminology I have learned something so thank you.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

1217 posts in 449 days


#9 posted 08-05-2020 02:49 PM

I hit it with a smoother and while not totally slick it did not have tear out. No dust so no mask required. I am slowly moving to hand tool work so this is a benefit.

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

6241 posts in 1422 days


#10 posted 08-05-2020 04:47 PM



My intent was to warn against inhaling the dust from spalted wood. Wood dust is bad enough, dust combined with other biological elements increases your risk. As to the correct terminology I have learned something so thank you.

- theoldfart

It was a VERY good well made point too.

Any time you are cutting, sanding, or creating dust with ANY wood wear a mask, and you won’t have something you wished you hadn’t done.

If you have Splated wood to use it can be great, or a nightmare. Before using any spalt even if it doesn’t look like it’s soft I whack the wood flat so it doesn’t crease an edge on my saw table. Many a time the spalt is more internal than I could see, and it really is punky. Smacking it will tell you real quick, if it’s suddenly a broken piece of mashed taters, it won’t return to good woodworking stock, ever.


controlfreak,

The spalting will not cause problems with tear-out. As theoldfart said, the spalting is cause by microbes and does not affect the grain pattern.

If you were buying figured wood, like bird s eye or quilted, then you have to worry about tear out. Figure is caused by the wood fibers turning and twisting.

- tmasondarnell

All one needs to do is look at a piece of spalted wood to clearly see it is in fact in the grain lines. If that spalt is going toward what most refer to as “Punky” when it’s getting soft it most certainly will break off, crush, tear out and otherwise not stay sound like you want it to. So to answer that, it’s often a crapshoot, because even with NON spalted wood grain lines can have weaknesses in them so when cutting, planing and sanding it you can have a piece come apart in a fashion you did not expect. Spalt increases those odds greatly.

-- Think safe, be safe

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