Spalting how-to
Response To:
Spalting ()

John K Jordan
I checked my files. I have one article from FWW that looks reasonable:
Spalting wood http://www.finewoodworking.com/2009/04/14/spalt-your-own-lumber

Also, this is from Charles Richards, might be useful.

I don't have a fool proof method but with the species i know will spalt from my personal experience here's what I do:

I cut most of my logs 4-6 inches longer than the diameter, so if the log is 17 inches in diameter I cut it no shorter than 21-24 inches long. For me it doesn't make any difference how long the log piece is just want to be able to handle it.

Sometimes I do stack end on pieces on top of each other so help spalting thinking that the moisture coming out of the endgrain staws helps the piece on the bottom spalt quicker. Not sure about that either. It seems the more you would cover up the wood with leaves, etc the easier it would be to let it get to far in the process before you realized it.

Logs are kept outside in the open end up
top end sometimes has some dirt thrown on it
check the log in 6 months by cutting 1/2 inch off the end to have a look see
if no spalting yet check monthly

When I cut a piece off the end I just flip the log over on its side and cut off 1/2 inch or so. Either end for the cut, not big deal. If it's not ready it gets flipped back up on its end for another month. Like you, I cut up left over pieces of bowl blanks and other spalted pieces for smaller projects.

From experience the only time I vary from this is with river birch. At least in my area (south Georgia) it will spalt in about 4 months. Everything else seems to take 6-9 months. I keep a number of logs that routinely spalt around the place and check regularly depending on where they are in the process above. Since I sell my pieces and most folks seem to gravitate to spalted bowls so I try to keep those pieces coming along all the time.

The wood I work with in my area that spalts pretty easily is:

river birch
sweet gum
black gum

(poplar takes a little longer than 6 months- more like 12 months)- love to see mushrooms growing on any log of mine cause 90% of the time its spalted

What doesn't work so well:
bradford pear- not much character change for me.
dogwood- I know you like this wood after reading some of your posts
camphor- not that dramatic
holly (JKJ)

I forgot to mention that I have tried covering the wood with a tarp and putting the logs on a pallet instead of the ground. At least at this point I don't think any of that helps. Not a scientific experiment but just an observation. I have read that the fungus in everywhere so if the wood has a potential to spalt I guess it will do it not matter how I help.

I have some magnolia logs outside the shop end up sitting on a plastic pallet and they spalted in about 6 months. Most of the time I do use Anchorseal on the ends before stacking end up and it doesn't seem to matter with the outcome.

I'm just trying to grow a perpetual spalt garden 'cause I like the way it looks..... never tasted it mind you.



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