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Spalted Wood

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  • Spalted Wood

    I have several pieces of oak limbs about three inches in diameter that I believe to be spalted. I viewed photos of all sorts of spalted wood and what I have seems to be the same. Being oak it is hard to cut or carve. I am carving spoons from it and use the scroll for decorating the spoon handles. In carving I found the wood to be stringy when cutting with the grain and I must use shallow cuts to minimize this problem. The wood in its natural state is lovely. So far all I have done in finishing the wood is to use wipe on polyurathane. Any other suggestions as to stains or finishes? I have several more pieces of this spalted oak wood. Anyone out there have experience in carving and scrolling spalted wood?

    Forest Woods

  • #2
    I have some spalted oak that went so far that it is yellow with black lines in it. Sometimes people don't believe me when I say it is oak unless I show them a board that isn't all that way. It is hard and I have burns hidden in a lot of fretwork. I use spirit BLO mix to finish. I have been using fine SR blades - lots of them - to get clean cuts. Anything other than fretwork or really tight corners is done on the BS.


    • #3
      I am not so fond of poly on spalted wood.
      I like the patina that an oil finish produces. It seems to have more depth, yet not look plastic.
      I havent used linseed oil since highschool. I am using Tung oli right now but I am always open to new suggestions.
      "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
      Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21


      • #4
        I agree with Carl if it is a fret work piece my preference would be a Danish oil or a Tung oil and french polished to a soft finish. I too do not like the look of plastic. Now if it is a turned piece then I go the other way and lacquer it and polish to a high shine to highlight the spalting. Such as in bowls and vases or even pens.
        John T.


        • #5
          Real tung oil or wiping varnish?

          Here is some interesting reading to explain why I ask:

          One thing I should have noted is that I use spirit BLO mix for natural wood scroll projects that are display items. I like oil better than varnish for that.


          • #6
            More Spalted

            I should add about using spalted wood that the user should wear a mask to filter out the fungus and mold that makes up spalted wood. The oak I have is also yellow with mostly black lines. Wish I had pieces for larger scroll work.

            Phil Durt


            • #7
              First let me say Phil brings up a very good point about the spalting and what it actually is so always wear a good dust mask we should be doing that anyway but in this case more important.


              It all depends on the look you are after. I suggest Danish oil because it can be applied liberally and just wiped down and the more coats you give it the more the sheen. You want to seal the wood before using a wipe-on poly so the BLO mixture would work there. You can go with just a coat of BLO/mineral spirits mixture alone and it will put a soft glow on the wood but will leave it a flat finish with no gloss. That is acceptable for fret work. Now with any finish of the oil nature you must continue ti wipe it down till it dries and it does not ooze out of the grain any more. You get alot of this with oak.

              That link you put up is a very good source for finishing type questions. If you have problems distinguishing what type of oil or finish to use it is worth reading. Bob Flexner is well known in the finishing field and has many books out there. Good luck.
              John T.


              • #8
                Danish oil is a mystery mix. Tried and True does say what the main ingredient in their Danish oil is:

       is now! Same company, same service, same brands, but much bigger selection

                linseed oil.

                Here is another bit of info on "Danish Oil":

                Danish Oil
                There are several products sold under the name "Danish Oil". The most common is the Watco® product in the brown can, but there are other similar products available. These are an oil (only) finish that is made from linseed, soybean, and other oils, a lot of thinner, and no varnish resins. Since they contain no varnish resins, Danish Oils will not build a surface film, and any film that will form is incidental to the amount of linseed oil that is present.
                While Danish Oils are fast and easy to apply and have many other uses for our finishing, they are not a good final finish for our turned wood. The finish is soft, not very durable, and will require rejuvenation every couple years when exposed to even indirect sunlight.
                It is interesting to note that there is nothing "Danish" in these finishes. They are an oil finish that was marketed as a way for us to duplicate the finish on the "Danish Modern" furniture style that was popular at the time, which was a lacquer.

                Last edited by arbarnhart; 12-27-2005, 12:27 PM.


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