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Spelting in wood

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 4:50 am
by Mark H
Does spelting in wood affect its strength ? I have some beech, still green and only a few months old. I had not used beech before and did not realise it spelts easily. The look is not a problem but I'm making chairs and wondered if the wood becomes weaker?

Spalting in wood

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 10:37 am
by Robin Fawcett
I wouldnt use any spalted wood for making chairs as the strength of the wood is definitely affected as the fungus which causes the spalting spreads through the wood.
It might be OK for small decorative items but there is also the possible inhalation of fungal spores to consider when turning it.


PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 5:49 pm
by Mark H
Thanks for the reply. Do you know if the fungus stops spreading as the wood dries ?, ie. if it is only at one end of a piece of wood thats been shaped into a chair leg.

PS. Thanks for the restraint in not making puns about me spelting it wrong etc.

Fungi in wood

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 6:39 pm
by Robin Fawcett
The fact that theres any type of fungal decay process happening in a piece of wood means that the strength of the whole piece is compromised.
I think that if spalted wood is dried and seasoned and not allowed to get wet the process will stop.

Spalted wood strength & Stopping it

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 12:13 am
by Andrew Hilton
Spalting is one part of the normal decay process of wood. The particular fungi associated with what we call "spalting" does affect the strength of the wood to a degree depending on how far it's progressed. If it hasn't progressed very far then strength is not affected very much. But then it's not as pretty either. :) I don't think I'd use it unless the place you use it doesn't need great strength.

The fungi for spalting need mainly 3 things to keep them active and growing.... 1) Heat, above 70F and below about 100F 2) Moisture. Dry it down to around 15% MC or flood it with water as in keeping it underwater and spalting will stop 3) Air. It's an aerobic activity and needs oxygen for optimal growth.

Drying the wood is the most effective method for preventing or stopping spalt with cooling the wood coming in second.

Here's a bit more information...


PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:47 pm
by Bob_Fleet
Spalting definitely affects the strength.
The spalting is usually the pattern where the active fungus is in the wood and you can see two distinct areas either side of it.
a) the whole wood which hasn't been affected ahead of the fungus
b) the wood which the fungus has fed on 'behind' it
This wood is much weaker.
I use a power lathe to turn ornamental items and it's a race between the fungus giving a good pattern and letting it go too far so the wood is too punky to be any use.
You can soak resin, superglue, laquer or sanding sealer into it to give it some 'body' but it can be almost like cardboard or sawdust and your cementing it together..
Don't use it where any structural strength is needed.

Hope this helps.