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I came, I saw, I spalted…

November 28th, 2009 1 comment

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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Genuine crotch wood

February 24th, 2009 1 comment
Yeah, it hooks to the left a little.

Trees are people too.

When I saw this magnificent piece of buckeye burl on eBay I knew had to have it. For the life of me, I can’t explain why this piece of wood spoke to me. Maybe it’s just my cockeyed perspective on life, but it seemed that it could hold great potential in my hands if worked properly. Ok, ok… I’ll drop the ridiculously thin veneer of sincerity. I’m guessing you know me better than that by now.

I obviously only bought this piece of lumber because it looks like frank and beans and as such would yield me great comical amusement (if you can’t see this at first, squint your good eye and smack yourself in the head repeatedly until it’s obvious). I did laugh for quite a while, but now I find myself stuck with a piece of male-genitalia shaped lumber.

I was thinking that it I could slap it on a lazy Susan to be placed on the kitchen table where condomints could be put atop. This was the only idea I had that wasn’t tacky. Maybe a bookstand to hold books erect? An oddly shaped table-tennis paddle? Thoughts?

No, I’m not proud of myself but I felt compelled to share. I have boundary issues.

As a complete non sequitur, if you don’t mind, would you fill out the following poll to help me better serve you in a subsequent post about being a digital woodworker.

[polldaddy poll=1397792]

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Wood of the Day – Spalted Maple

February 20th, 2008 Comments off

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Here’s a block of spalted Maple. The spalting is the result of fungi invading the wood and taking up occupation. Or rather… the fungi are spreading democracy to the wood. The dark lines or “zone lines” are where different colonies of fungi are fighting for territory with one another. From what I understand, it all started over some holy grain that each side claims is theirs…. then of course fungi extremism developed and terrorism ensued. I’m still not sure which side was right, but I do know that fungi terrorism must be rooted out at all costs! (get it…. fungi terrorism… rooted out… wait, does fungi even have roots? crap, back to Wikipedia)

To answer your question… No, I really don’t know why I kept going with that analogy/metaphor long after it had served it’s purpose… yes, it was kind of interesting to see that highly sophisticated organisms such as ourselves behave similarly as fungi on the macroscopic level, but did I really need to take it as far I did… not really… It probably was not very fair to the fungi. My apologies to all the fungi out there…. especially the fungi-Americans.

You know I just noticed that the word analogy has anal in it… what’s up with that? Just another example of how you can go through your whole life and can miss the little meaningful details. I think I’m just noticing it because it phonetically sounds different from Anal. It has that ‘a’, with the two dots above it, sound… like in canal… hey there’s an anal in canal! For some reason that one seems more appropriate.

And to answer your latest question: No, I don’t do drugs… I do insomnia. Same net effect minus the fun part… and less track marks.

Please stop asking questions.

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I'm getting wood.

May 2nd, 2007 1 comment

Yup, it’s finally happening. For the first time in my life I’m getting wood from eBay (though, to be fair, it has given me a semi several times in the past). Below are various pictures of my newly purchased lumber. All are Black Walnut which is a relatively easy species to work with and finishes well. Several pieces are “book-matched” which simply means that were cut in succession allowing for certain design patterning options such as creating mirror image type effects.

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