White Residue in Leopard Wood Grain

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Forum topic by Ted posted 06-05-2014 05:21 AM 3982 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2877 posts in 3270 days

06-05-2014 05:21 AM

Just messing around with some leopard wood for the first time, I discovered the white residue looking stuff in the grain. I realize it’s not a residue but rather it’s part of the grain. Still, I don’t like it. Are there any tricks to hiding it or getting rid of it?

The photo is what I turned on my mini-lathe, cleaned with alcohol, sealed with CA, then sanded up to 6000 grit. It’s a nice finish but really does make the white stuff stand out.

Here’s a closer look at the white stuff.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

16 replies so far

View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 2588 days

#1 posted 06-05-2014 05:34 AM

looks like dust-filled pockets, even if it’s not.

Without stain I can’t imagine how to alter the color – especially in that fine of a space, how could you alter the color of the white portions only anyway?

I’ve never seen it turned before, I guess when it’s veneered for furniture those white stripes don’t really show…

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2877 posts in 3270 days

#2 posted 06-05-2014 05:43 AM

Looking at the blank I cut this piece from, I can see the white if I look really close. At first I thought dust got into the grain, before I looked closer at the blank. I’m really disappointed to see this as I want to make pens from this wood…. same finish.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View bowedcurly's profile


519 posts in 2788 days

#3 posted 06-05-2014 05:45 AM

liquid dye concentrate?

-- Staining killed the wood<<<<<>>>>>Dyeing gave it life

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4393 days

#4 posted 06-05-2014 07:33 AM

It’s beautiful wood and the white looks a lot like when the pores on open grain woods like Elm and Oak are purposely filled with white wax to give the same effect. It’s a technique known as ‘liming’. I guess lime was use in the past, perhaps mixed with wax to make it spreadable. Personally I like that effect and I believe it adds interest to the grain.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View JayG46's profile


139 posts in 2917 days

#5 posted 06-05-2014 07:47 AM

Ted – I’ve never worked with leopard wood before but I’ve seen this in other exotics. Not sure exactly what it is (perhaps some sort of mineral deposit) but have had some luck with oil based finishes like Danish oil obscuring it. CA glue is the one finish that imparts almost no color onto the wood, thereby preserving that white-ness.

-- Jay Gargiulo, Naples, FL "Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi

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Jim Jakosh

26095 posts in 4164 days

#6 posted 06-05-2014 11:32 AM

How does it look if you spray a wet coat of a finish on it. Does it go away? I have used leopard wood and never saw this effect…........................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Ted's profile


2877 posts in 3270 days

#7 posted 06-05-2014 12:49 PM

Mike, I appreciate your enthusiasm but I can’t say I share it. The white stuff has got to go. :)

All, I threw it back on the lath and took the CA finish off, sanded it to 320 and wiped some gel stain on it. That did seem to hide the white stuff. I don’t particularly care for the stain itself, I think it killed the wood (bowedcurly). I’ve never used dye before but I’m guessing that’s the answer.

Jay, it does appear to be some sort of mineral deposit.

Jim, I really want to stick with the CA finish. I’m turning pens and using a number of different woods, and want to stick with one finish for all of them as much as I can as I’ll be making a lot of them. Hopefully, using dye will be the solution.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about dye. I’ll be stopping by my local Rockler store later this afternoon so will grab a few different color dyes while I’m there.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2545 days

#8 posted 06-05-2014 12:58 PM

Some leopard had his way with a knot hole.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View knotheadswoodshed's profile


225 posts in 3231 days

#9 posted 06-05-2014 01:02 PM

I have made a lot of leopardwood boxes, I use Watco’s natural danish oil as the base coat (prior to lacquering).
It pops the grain and eliminates the white specks you are seeing.

-- Randy - "I dont make mistakes, I make design change opportunities"

View EPJartisan's profile


1123 posts in 4184 days

#10 posted 06-05-2014 01:29 PM

It is called Tyloses… this is why knowing about how wood grows, where, and why helps us become better woodworkers. Many tropical and semi-tropical species (and past tropical species like Black Locust) absorb a lot of chemicals and minerals into their cells. As the tree cells die and become heartwood, the chemicals, phenols, minerals, and other nutrients harden inside the Tracheid and Parenchyma cells and crystalize. This does many things for the tree.. such as water and rot resistance and structural support. Jatoba, Wenge, Bloodwood, Ipe…these are just a few of many species that you will find tyloses. There is nothing to do about it, other than celebrate the amazingness of trees. The crystals will not dissolve nor take stain very easily.

Leopardwood in particular has been well known for Tyloses since the late 1800's

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View boxcarmarty's profile


17437 posts in 3419 days

#11 posted 06-05-2014 08:30 PM

It was an albino leopard…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View pintodeluxe's profile


6345 posts in 3872 days

#12 posted 06-05-2014 08:33 PM

Use a colored wax like Howard’s Walnut Wax to fill the pores.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3863 days

#13 posted 06-09-2014 12:08 PM

Good idea from pinto. I hate woods that come out like this. I have 2 bolt actions that I did from Red Palm, and they look like %^*& !!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Ted's profile


2877 posts in 3270 days

#14 posted 06-12-2014 05:06 PM

Thanks for the replies, everybody.

EP, thanks for your hugely informative reply and the link. I figured it was some sort of mineral in the wood. Somebody else told me it was due to oil in the wood, but that just didn’t sit right with me. I was thinking it’s lime, silica or something of the sort. I’d still like to hide it somehow. I appreciate what you say about celebrating the amazingness of the wood, but I’m making gift items for other people so it would be more like explaining the white stuff and why they “should” like it.

Fridge & Marty…. uhhh boy….

I’ve been too busy with my paying work lately, to give this any further attention. I will try dye, watco and colored wax to see if that makes a difference. I think it is showing up so much on this piece because it’s turned rather than flat. Or it may just be the pieces I acquired have an exceptionally large amount of tyloses.

I’ll post more about this when I get a chance to do some more tinkering with it.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View Ted's profile


2877 posts in 3270 days

#15 posted 06-23-2014 07:43 AM

I still haven’t tried dye yet but spray lacquer (rattle can) seems to yield acceptable results. The Tyloses is more visible in this photo than it actually is—I can see it but it doesn’t jump out at me.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

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