Home > My Wood > I came, I saw, I spalted…

I came, I saw, I spalted…

November 28th, 2009

A little over a year ago I had eight sweet gum trees taken down on my property as they were a little to close to my home for comfort. Not knowing much about this species I researched it a bit on the web. From what I read it makes for a difficult material to work other than turning as it has pretty wild, interlocked grain. So without much thought I gave 95% of it away as free firewood.

I cannot tell you how much I dread that decision at this moment. If I could go back in time I would tell myself to not let so much of it go as well as inform myself of the results of a few horse races (I might as well make a buck or two if I’m going to time travel, right?). So, what’s the cause of my regret you ask? (if you did not ask, where’s your sense of curiosity?) The answer is I took a shot at spalting the logs I kept and today I opened one of the logs up and to my amazement, with each successive cut I made, some impressive spalting appeared before my eyes.

Nice flame figured grain revealed upon squaring up log

Nice flame figured grain revealed upon squaring up log

Log split in half revealing spalting

Log split in half revealing spalting

Sectioned into quarters

Sectioned into quarters

Close up of spalted sweet gum

Close up of spalted sweet gum

I should say that even without spalting this sweet gum material is impressive stuff. Here’s a log I opened up at about the 6 month point… I don’t believe there’s any substantial spalting, but I was still surprised to see the variety of colors as well as the flame like grain. Just pretty stuff.

So what’s my super secret formula that I followed to achieve this? I wax sealed one end of the log with Anchorseal and set the log on end with the non-sealed end on the bare ground and then I forgot about it. The idea is, from what I understand, that moisture wicks up from the ground and cannot escape through the sealed end, thus providing an environment for fungi to flourish.

The original reason I even kept these logs was to turn handles for a bunch of chisels. I’m not sure I can do that in good conscious with this stuff. I think I’m going to have to slice up the remaining logs into small boards. This looks like prime box-top material! Uggh, I don’t if I can wait for this stuff to dry.

Since the bottom edge of this log was starting to turn “punky” I imagine it’s time to harvest the rest of the material. So tomorrow I’ll slice these up into small boards and sticker them up. I can’t wait to see what I find inside the others… it’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas… actually Christmas eve.

And to the remaining sweet gum trees on my property, my suggestion is to live in, and really appreciate, the fleeting moment.

Note: In the interest of remaining chronologically factual, with regards to the title of this post, the actual order of events occurred in reverse.

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  1. November 28th, 2009 at 20:40 | #1

    Wowza! Those are beautiful logs. You’re a masterspalter.

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