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Thread: Advice needed....spalted maple

  1. #1

    Advice needed....spalted maple

    Hello everyone. First post on Sawmill Creek. Great place… I need advice on how to prepare some recently acquired spalted maple. It was cut into rounds that are around 30” diameter and 2’ or so in height. Tree was dead when felled 2 years ago and remained in someone’s back yard since then. I live less than five miles from where it was cut and am located in the Upstate of SC. The spalted wood MC is above 25%.
    The tree was cut about 5 days ago. Its covered with some tarps and sitting on 4x4’s in my driveway. The plan is to cut most the rounds into quarters (because of the size, probably more than quarters) and seal the ends. They will be stored in the shop on 4x4’s. It is not climate controlled.

    If I uploaded the pictures correctly, you will notice their size. In the past I’ve used latex paint with spalted pecan, but with less than desirable results. Paraffin wax might be a good option…..however, there is a lot to seal. The budget is tight…. So, how do I economically seal the ends? Bulk paraffin wax….with mineral spirits? There is mention of people using roofing cement, oil based paint…all the way up to the costly Anchor Seal.
    Additionally, there is a possibility of using a piece or two for making some round live edge coffee tables.

    So, I am open to all suggestions. Sealing the ends… what to do...what to not do... any and all advice is needed and greatly appreciated.

    Kindest regards,

    StarkAttachment 409811IMG_20190509_111516.jpgIMG_20190509_102012318.jpgIMG_20190509_131946.jpgIMG_20190509_131520.jpgIMG_20190509_132450.jpgIMG_20190509_111627.jpg

  2. #2
    Your photos didn't show up, just a link. If you are going to seal them, use the "costly AnchorSeal". It's cost is relatively minimal considering the potential value it might add. Spalting is a step well in to the decay process, they won't dry as efficiently as freshly cut lumber, especially in quartered sections only 2' long. Some of the other things you mentioned are a real mess on the sawmill (if these would even fit on most mills), and even worse in the workshop. Some roofing products are tough on blades and will smear on table surfaces and gum up blades on planers and tools.

  3. #3
    Both turning clubs I belong to sell anchor seal at a very reasonable price. You might ask around but I too think that would be your best option.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    8,330
    Scott,

    I just saw this message - I suspect you have it all taken care of by now.

    But if not, from experience: AnchorSeal is the easiest and cleanest solution, but as you mentioned, can be expensive. The worst price I've seen is on Amazon, better at the woodcraft stores, but that is still high. Some years ago I bought a 55 gal drum and the cost was only $6 a gallon - I think it is higher now but still much lower per gallon than retail so the turning clubs can sell it cheaper. If you don't know any turning clubs you can find them on the AAW web site (American Association of Woodturners). I know there are some not too far from you. In exchange for a piece or two I'd drive over and seal them for you!

    You can buy Anchorseal by a 5-gal can too - look up UC Coatings for pricing.

    Latex paint doesn't seem to help - moisture will go right through even several coats and the wood will dry too fast. Oil-based exterior paint is better, especially if you apply several coats. Aluminum paint is said to work well but I haven't tried that. As you mentioned, roofing tar is great but oh what a mess. Paraffin wax is perfect but skip the mineral oil, use it melted. A friend of mine prepares blanks for sale by dipping them in a vat of hot paraffin - most exotics are prepared this way for sale. That would be a real problem for pieces the size you have!! I've heard of people brushing on melted paraffin but I haven't tried that. BTW, if you are not familiar with working with paraffin wax be aware that heating it over an open flame is a disaster waiting to happen!

    Are you a woodturner or do you want to sell blanks to woodturners? If you have pieces at least 6-12" thick you can cut it up first into turning squares and easily dip the ends into hot wax, no need to coat the entire blank. If you want to sell blanks, sizes like 2x2, 3x3, 4x4 and up are useful. For example, a 4x4x6" or 8" blank (with the grain running the long way) is perfect for turning a lidded box, larger pieces for vases, etc. The longer the blank the better since it can be cut shorter - for example people might fight over a 6x6x24" blank of nicely spalted maple Turners are always interested in bowl blanks from spalted maple - it should be easy to sell sizes from 6x6x2", 8x8x4", and up, all with the grain running across the largest dimension. For woodturners the value of the wood goes to nothing if you slice the log sections up into "cookies." Sorry if you already know all this, but if might be useful if you don't!

    If you want to sell turning blanks, the biggest problem is connecting with the customers. I cut a LOT of green wood into turning blanks and while I don't sell, I use them, give to friends, and give to clubs for fundraisers. I could easily sell if I wanted to.

    ambrosia_maple_IMG_20171202_175649_933.jpg drying_IMG_5757.jpg

    If you made a bunch of turning blanks an easy way to sell is to a wood dealer - you won't make as much that way but all the effort and risk is out of your hands. I can put you in touch with a honest dealer. I think he will buy prepared blanks or even the raw wood, but be advised the raw wood is not nearly as valuable - each processing step adds value. Drying turning blanks before sale further increases the value.

    Let me know - you may have to sign up here as a Contributor to send private messages or email, I don't know. But if so, it's only $6 per year! If you do that you can even offer blanks for sale on the Classifieds section.

    (Oops, you might not be able to see the photo above without the Contributor status.)

    BTW, if covering with a tarp be sure to allow air to get under the tarp and over the wood.

    JKJ

    Quote Originally Posted by Stark Suggs View Post
    Hello everyone. First post on Sawmill Creek. Great place… I need advice on how to prepare some recently acquired spalted maple. It was cut into rounds that are around 30” diameter and 2’ or so in height. Tree was dead when felled 2 years ago and remained in someone’s back yard since then. I live less than five miles from where it was cut and am located in the Upstate of SC. The spalted wood MC is above 25%.
    The tree was cut about 5 days ago. Its covered with some tarps and sitting on 4x4’s in my driveway. The plan is to cut most the rounds into quarters (because of the size, probably more than quarters) and seal the ends. They will be stored in the shop on 4x4’s. It is not climate controlled.

    If I uploaded the pictures correctly, you will notice their size. In the past I’ve used latex paint with spalted pecan, but with less than desirable results. Paraffin wax might be a good option…..however, there is a lot to seal. The budget is tight…. So, how do I economically seal the ends? Bulk paraffin wax….with mineral spirits? There is mention of people using roofing cement, oil based paint…all the way up to the costly Anchor Seal.
    Additionally, there is a possibility of using a piece or two for making some round live edge coffee tables.

    So, I am open to all suggestions. Sealing the ends… what to do...what to not do... any and all advice is needed and greatly appreciated.

    Kindest regards,

    StarkAttachment 409811IMG_20190509_111516.jpgIMG_20190509_102012318.jpgIMG_20190509_131946.jpgIMG_20190509_131520.jpgIMG_20190509_132450.jpgIMG_20190509_111627.jpg

  5. #5
    Everyone, my sincere apology for not getting back to the folks who took the time to give their input. I'm usually good at follow up, but dropped the ball on this one. Anyway, I was able to get most of the maple tree cut into more manageable pieces. Anchorseal has been carefully applied with either 2 or 3 coats. Gallon number 4 should be enough to finish the job. It was that much wood. A lathe would be nice, but finances are tight. For some time now, power carving is my thing.

    What I'm faced with now is how to stop the spalt from progressing. Due to the massive amount of wood, using an oven or microwave is out of the question. Besides, the wife would kill me . Cutting and selling might be an option. I will go with the membership option because I can support Sawmill Creek and possibly sell some of this wood. There is a woodworking guild here in the Upstate of SC that will be hearing from me to obtain a membership.

    Thanks to all for taking the time to post back with excellent info. I really appreciate all of the and great advice.

    Kindest Regards,

    Stark

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    8,330
    Quote Originally Posted by Stark Suggs View Post
    What I'm faced with now is how to stop the spalt from progressing. Due to the massive amount of wood, using an oven or microwave is out of the question. Besides, the wife would kill me . Cutting and selling might be an option. I will go with the membership option because I can support Sawmill Creek and possibly sell some of this wood. There is a woodworking guild here in the Upstate of SC that will be hearing from me to obtain a membership.
    I think the fungus needs warmth, moisture, and air to propagate and eat it's way through the wood. Removing it from the source of moisture (often the ground) will help since it does grow very slowly. If it were me, I'd cut up log-sized chunks into turning blanks, whether for bowls, small platters, boxes, or smaller spindles, and let it air dry which stops the fungus. The smaller the pieces the quicker they dry, of course. (1"x1" maple squares might dry in just a few weeks.)

    If you have the option of putting the wood in a cooler place that will further slow the fungus, but may not be an option in the summer where you live.

    Kiln drying will stop the fungus immediately but not many have access to a kiln.

    If you want to turn bowls, might best to start turning as soon as possible. Just rough turn them and set aside to dry and the spalting will stop very quickly. (Even quicker if you can push the open end of the bowl or vessel against a seal and pump a bit of compressed air inside - the water will bubble out of the pores and accelerate the drying.)

    Another way to stop the spalting is boil the blanks or the rough turnings. The heat will kill the fungus.

    Another way to stop the fungus is to sell or give away pieces and let others turn or cut them up to dry!

    This is an example of how I like to cut green wood for drying, spalted or not. I also cut a lot of smaller spindle squares. I cut most of the blanks with the shop bandsaw.

    Spalted_IMG_20170118_132621.jpg

    BTW, here are a couple of threads that talk about spalting that you might find interesting. (Sorry, can't remember if I already gave these.)
    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....41#post2926541
    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....94#post2646994

    JKJ

  7. #7
    Thanks Dave. Working on that Anchorseal idea now along with trying to secure a mid grade, economically priced band saw. Might be on the items Sawmill Creek has for sale. Take care

  8. #8
    Good morning John. Thanks for getting back to me. Beautiful setup with some drop dead gorgeous wood. Great ideas which I'll have to consider when setting up shop further. Last night I noticed that there were some small splits, not checks on the end, but on the sides of the wood itself. Obviously, sealing off the entire piece defeats the whole purpose of sealing. So far, trying to fill the cracks with Anchorseal when noticeable has been the only option. So, your thoughts and anyone else's two cents are welcome. Some of this wood will be donated/sold at a future point. Take care.

    Edited: a few pictures that have my concern. Some of these have begun to crack. There is some significantly punky wood, but very little. This is less than 10% of the entire lot.
    IMG_20190513_193617699.jpg
    IMG_20190513_193343845.jpgIMG_20190521_122452105.jpgIMG_20190520_004530.jpgIMG_20190519_163831470.jpg0.jpg


    Last edited by Stark Suggs; 06-07-2019 at 11:36 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    8,330
    I'm not sure sealing the entire piece is bad. Nearly all exotic wood I buy is sealed on all surfaces, usually dipped in hot paraffin. Moisture still goes through any wax so the wood dries, but slower.

    When I process wood that is known to be "dynamic" in shrinkage, I often coat one or more sides in addition to the end grain. For example, dogwood is particularly prone to extreme warping and shrinking at the boundary between the heartwood and the sapwood (the sapwood is particularly desirable), I paint anchorseal on any side that has both heart and sapwood. Wood that has very dense and softer areas side-by-side, any wild grain such as from a crotch or burl, and other surfaces that have significant figure also get sealed. Often I seal the entire piece then after a few months I scrape off most of the wax on the sides to accelerate the drying after the the most critical period for cracking is over.

    But again, for me the best defense against cracks and splits is to process the wood into smaller chunks. The smaller the dimension, the less likely the wood is to crack. This is, of course, after the pith and area near the pith is removed, which it looks like you already did. (The juvenile wood at and near the pith is usually more unstable than anywhere else.) After trimming the pieces down to size, I let dry for "a while" then put them back on the bandsaw and skim the sides and remove a thin slice from both ends. (Squaring up the sides also exposes clean wood and lets me better see the figure and color.) If cracks are evident I remove a bit more or even cut the blank into even smaller pieces until I see no more cracks then reseal. If I decide to leave some minor cracks or checking I mark them with a red sharpie before sealing so I won't be unpleasantly surprised later. I realize a lot of people think such attention is an unnecessary extreme and just glue or fill cracks when turning, but I don't like to turn such wood.

    If you haven't done it, periodically weighing and recording is a great way to track the drying. I put a piece of tape on waxed surfaces and record the weight and date. When the weight changes very little from month to month the wood is at EMC, as dry as it's going to get in that environment. Large chunks can take a LONG time to dry, even years for some sizes and types of wood.

    To get the exact moisture content deep inside the wood, you can sacrifice a typical piece and use the "oven dry" method on a small sample cut from the center. I understand spalting ceases when the moisture content reaches 20%.

    For all you ever wanted to know about spalting, consider Sara Robinson's (Dr. Spalt) book "Spalted Wood: The History, Science, and Art." https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0764350382

    Also,


    Quote Originally Posted by Stark Suggs View Post
    Good morning John. Thanks for getting back to me. Beautiful setup with some drop dead gorgeous wood. Great ideas which I'll have to consider when setting up shop further. Last night I noticed that there were some small splits, not checks on the end, but on the sides of the wood itself. Obviously, sealing off the entire piece defeats the whole purpose of sealing. So far, trying to fill the cracks with Anchorseal when noticeable has been the only option. So, your thoughts and anyone else's two cents are welcome. Some of this wood will be donated/sold at a future point. Take care.

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