Working with spalted maple

Spalted lumber results from wood subjected to a high moisture environment for extended periods of time allowing for fungal invasion of the wood. This results in fascinating creations in the grain that look like free-form art drawn with a calligraphy pen containing profiles, images, faces, etc. Certain fungi can produce stained areas of blue, pink, red, rust, green and other colors.

When working with slabs of spalted maple there are unique challenges due to the inherent nature of the wood which contains varying degrees of rot and as a result, contains areas of varying density, texture and porosity also referred to as ‘punky’.

The finish applied to spalted maple is different from that used with a dense hardwood, such as cherry or walnut..

In selecting a finish for the spalted maple tables, maintaining the significant color contrast between the top and walnut base was a high priority and to maximize that contrast it was necessary to use a finish that did not alter or darken its natural shade. Most finish materials contain oils/polyurethanes/shellac/etc have an amber color which ultimately changes the shade of the finish. Therefore a water-clear resin is used that penetrates deep into the grain and hardens resulting in a perfectly smooth beautiful finish....the natural beauty of the wood.

In the end, the spalted maple top is encased in resin and that helps to minimize changes in moisture content.