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Spalted maple burl - R Clark - 04-12-2023

I was given a maple burl several years ago.  It is good sized; about 8 inches from the flat side to the top and "somewhat" symmetrical in spherical shape.  It sat in my shop wrapped in plastic until I decided to open it up the other day.  This is what I found:


I think the entire burl is like this; there are no soft spots that I can feel on the outside.  Of course, spalted wood is not hard.

I'm not crazy about turning this piece; I think it would tear easily.  I could slab it on my bandsaw and then use the slabs for box tops and panels.  It would be a simple matter to bookmatch the result to end up with larger pieces.  

I really don't have experience with spalted wood.  If I slab the burl, should I harden the wood before any further machining?  How would I do that?  Any advice on how to treat this wood is appreciated.  

I have another much larger maple burl that has been stored the same length of time, though in the open air.  I have not opened that larger burl.  I doubt I'll find spalting in that one.  It's so large I'll have to cut it into smaller chunks with a chainsaw.

RE: Spalted maple burl - bbrickey - 04-19-2023

If you end up with punky spots, you can use CPE (Clear Penetrating Epoxy) which is super thin and will harden / stiffen the wood fibers.

RE: Spalted maple burl - EightFingers - 04-21-2023

I use Minwax wood hardener. I’ve turned a lot of spalted maple and that’s what I used for the softer stuff.

RE: Spalted maple burl - FrankAtl - 04-21-2023

That could be a beautiful turning. I think I'd have to give it a try if it were me.

RE: Spalted maple burl - R Clark - 04-22-2023

(04-21-2023, 01:21 PM)EightFingers Wrote: I use Minwax wood hardener. I’ve turned a lot of spalted maple and that’s what I used for the softer stuff.

I may have some hardener out in the shop.  I had to make some window repairs last year for some punky window pieces.  Maybe I'll test it out on the slice I took off.

(04-21-2023, 01:45 PM)FrankAtl Wrote: That could be a beautiful turning. I think I'd have to give it a try if it were me.

I only have a Jet 1014 that I use for furniture parts.  My bowl skills are weak.  But, maybe I'll try it.

RE: Spalted maple burl - AHill - 04-25-2023

That's a real good find.   Another thought is to create some veneers out of the burl.  They could dress up some panels and make them very nice without wasting so much of the burl.  I made this tool cabinet several years ago with some spalted curly maple and used a veneer on the drawer fronts.  The door panels are 1/4" slices.

RE: Spalted maple burl - R Clark - 04-25-2023

Love the tool cabinet!

I tried some JB Weld wood hardener on the slice I cut off.  Wasn't impressed with the penetration.  I'm going to try the Minwax wood hardener.  I looked online at the epoxy mentioned above, but it seems thick and I don't think it will penetrate any better than the JB Weld product.

There's enough of that burl for a turning project, as well as some box tops.  May try the veneer route; it will challenge my bandsaw tuning skills.  I do have a Supermax drum sander, so it will be a bit of an experiment to see if the spalted wood will hold up to that.  Two factors affect it that I can see.  One is the structural soundness of the wood fibers.  The second is "bleed over" of the dark colored sanding dust making the light areas look muddy.

RE: Spalted maple burl - R Clark - 05-30-2023

An update to this piece.

Like many, life has been busy.  Throw in a bit of indecision and time flew by.  I just undertook to make a few cuts this afternoon.  I cut two 1" thick slices and then sliced each of those in half again.  Now I have two pair of book-matched pieces.  Picture of one by itself, and then with a tape measure to give a sense of scale.



I'll even up the long "straight" edge on the table saw.  I may try to slice them thinner to get more veneer slices as AHill suggested.   I've been sort of "sneaking up" on resawing thinner and thinner pieces.

There's still quite a bit of this burl remaining, so I may try my hand at turning part of it.

RE: Spalted maple burl - AHill - 05-31-2023

Very nice looking burl. I would love to see pics of whatever you end up building with it.

RE: Spalted maple burl - R Clark - 06-09-2023

Update:  I'm fiddling with these book-matched slices to get them to go together as seamlessly as possible.  I'm not there yet.  I don't have anything in mind for this piece, yet, so there's no sense of urgency and I work on it when the mood strikes.

The slices are now uniform thickness at about 5/16".  Today I have been working to get the mating edge lined up and straight so I can join them to make one panel.  That's the part that is giving me a hard time right now.  Pic of what I have:


My first attempt at making the mating edge cut was by mounting the burl slices to a carrier board and running them through my table saw.  I used toggle clamps to hold the burl to the board, but wasn't able to hold the workpiece solidly enough to get a good cut. My next method was by sandwiching the slices between two 1X4s on edge and then running that across my jointer.  That worked better, but I still have a noticeable line at the mating surface, and I think if it's used as a panel in a small project, that seam will be very easy to see.

Ideas welcome...thanks!