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What makes this wooden so particular? Fungus.

If there’s one wooden that may actually problem your sense of design—and your woodworking abilities—it’s spalted maple. Those inky black strains can each delight the attention and drive you loopy.

Spalted maple is simply peculiar maple that’s partly rotten. After the wooden is lower, totally different colonies of stain, mildew and decay fungi assault it and set up boundaries to protect their turf. That’s what these black strains are—borders between warring tribes. They don’t comply with any common sample, such because the tree’s progress rings. Their summary nature teases the attention, drawing you in and making the wooden fascinating to take a look at.

Those strains can change in unpredictable methods contained in the wooden. You might have the right sample picked out on a board, solely to have it change drastically—or disappear—with one move by way of the planer. Working spalted maple is like fastidiously excavating an archaeological website: You should know when to cease digging.

The fungi colonies might also alter the colour of the wooden they’re feasting on. Some areas may stay mild, whereas others flip a deeper shade of yellow. Add maple’s pure determine to the combination and also you’ve acquired an terrible lot happening in a single board.

Problems to search for

Ordinary maple begins turning into spalted maple when its moisture content material (MC) remains to be pretty excessive. When the MC drops, the fungi die off. The trick to drying the wooden to be used in furnituremaking is to cease the rotting course of at simply the precise time.

This doesn’t at all times work out, although. Within one board, chances are you’ll discover sound, exhausting wooden with wonderful working properties and tender, punky wooden that you could’t work in any respect. Sometimes, the tender spots have the consistency of popcorn—these are areas the place the fungal assault has gone too far. Plan on giving each board the “fingernail test.” If you are able to do severe injury along with your fingernail inside one of the tribal zones, lower out that part.

You might also discover pockets of grayish black mud. It’s OK to go away them in your completed piece for those who don’t thoughts the best way they give the impression of being. The downside with the mud is that it will possibly unfold once you sand. It will work its means into the wooden’s pores and find yourself wanting like grime smudges. The answer is to harden the dusty spots previous to sanding by dripping some CA glue on them. Use the skinny glue, not gel. It soaks in in a short time.

If you encounter empty pockets with out mud, fill within the holes with epoxy blended with black tempera powder. It’s a simple, everlasting repair, and visually blends in with the opposite black areas.

How to purchase it

Most cupboard retailers don’t wish to cope with wooden that varies a lot from board to board, so spalted maple isn’t usually carried by lumberyards. You’ll should do some digging to search out it, however nearly any operator of a small sawmill can steer you to the precise provider. Some wooden sellers will induce spalting on objective, however others could also be sitting on a “bad” batch of lumber that you just’ll assume is gold. 

While you possibly can order spalted maple on-line, it’s exhausting to foretell precisely what you’re going to get. It’s safer to see boards in individual, however even then, you’ve acquired to watch out. Remember, this isn’t wooden that has been dried within the regular means, so be alert for checks, cracks and of course, that punky stuff.

Spalted maple will strive your persistence and demand your full consideration. You have to “ask” relatively than “tell” every board the way it want to be used. So decelerate, means down, listen, and get to know each bit intimately. The rewards are value it. 

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