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Mike Greene

Spalted Oak?

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Hey everyone,

 

So my father helped my uncle cut down a tree a couple weeks ago, and I thought the wood looked kinda funny. My dad said the tree was an Oak. Is this what you'd call "spalted"? And would it be any good for knife handles?

 

Thanks,

Mike

 

 

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I think that could make really nice knife handles. Try to save as much of it as you can. Stuff like that would be nice to hang on to just for selling/trading at hammer-ins :D

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ditto

 

i'd stabilze that sucka... could make some interesting handles forsure

 

or even some kind of end table top..

 

never seen oak do that around here... interesting

 

 

G

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Mike,

OOO nice find!!!

 

 

cut it up into slabs that a maybe a 1/4" to 1/2" bigger sizes than what you will use them for... make the length at least 2" or 3" inches longer to allow for some checking to

 

take place as it dries... use something on the end grain to slow down the drying . old oil based paint works good.. or glue. wood glue like yellow glue or the

 

 

white elmers... a few heavy coats of wax or parafin will work also... you need to slow down the drying so the end check as little as possible... once you do the ends stack them up with

 

 

stickers so air can get around to all sides... a winter season of drying would be OK but now that is is summer it will take longer.. you can speed it up some by heating but you

 

 

should wait a month or two before you try to force dry it... and only experiment with one piece at a time so as to not make a mistake with all of it....

 

 

Dick

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absolutely huge score!!! really good stuff, definitely stabalize it

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Looks like maybe a red oak with what the sawyer in the sawmill I used to work in called " wind shake " He said it was caused by a wind that caused the trunk to twist, causing a partial separation of the grain structure, which healed back together. Don't know if he was right, but it sounds feasible to me. :blink:

 

Wind damage as a young tree which caused the pattern you see as the tree aged and grew. Used to see some real pretty patterns in the logs we sawed up. Wish I could have saved some of it. Dry it SLOW! Get it stabilized professionally, and you'll have some beautiful material to work with.

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Google "microwave wood drying". There's some interesting information there about

drying wood quickly. I know some woodturners in my area dry partially turned

green wood bowls using this method with great success. They then finish the

turning. Hope this might help.

 

Bill

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That is some pretty stuff there, sir. Nice save! How much did you end up with, & how big are the pieces?

 

If that's the bark that's still intact at the bottom of the picture, I'm not sure that's oak. The sapwood/ heartwood contrast leads me away as well, although it could be wind shake as Paul mentioned. Do you have any pics of a chunk from the side, showing the bark? My only concern is if you were to sell it or use it in a project, you will want to be sure it is what you think it is.

 

"Spalting" is a fungus that works its way into the wood between the layers. It's usually black, but can be other colors, depending on the wood & the fungus variety. One of the reasons spalted wood is prized is that there's a fine line between good, solid spalted wood & punky, soft rotting wood. It's not common at all to find spalted oak, most especially in a standing, live tree. If you look at the inside, there where it's split, it should have squarish black outlines, like the old Trebark camo pattern. (Do they still make Trebark camo?) I just took some pictures of some spalted maple a few weeks ago - I'll try & dig them up.

 

As mentioned by others here, you should get it slabbed up, end sealed, & stickered before it starts checking too much. My suggestion would be 4/4 (1" thick) boards, just plain/ flat sawn (all sawcuts parallel, like a stack of cheese slices). Depending on how big the logs/ chunks are, you might want to just leave the live edges (the crooked edge of the board where the bark is) to maximize what you can get out of each piece. It depends, too, on what you use to cut it up, again depending on the size of the pieces. Put it in a warm, dry place with good air circulation. Unless you're in a hurry to do something with it, I would just air dry it. Haste makes waste, as they say. There's an old saw about air drying hardwoods 1 year per inch of thickness, but in my experience, depending on where it's kept & the type & initial condition of the wood, that's pretty conservative.

 

For the harder woods - oak, maple, etc. - I'm not sure I'd go to the trouble of getting it stabilized, but that's just my $0.02, so take that for what it's worth....

 

Good luck, great find, & if you need more help, let me know & I can hook you up with some links, more info, maybe even some help finding someone near you with a bandsaw mill if you need/ want to go that way.

 

randy

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Mike-

 

Just as a quick response - go here:

 

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/

 

The "Forestry & Milling" forum has a lot of good info about sawing, drying, & storing wood, & they get into a lot of salvage wood & "urban forestry" as they call it - utilizing wood that would otherwise go to a landfill or be burned. It's a great place to see what can be inside some of that "junk wood". Be prepared to spend some time just enjoying the "wood porn" some of these guys expose.

 

That'll get you started. I'll be back with more, but here's a peek at what I'm talking about:

 

wal stump 3.jpg

 

A slice out of a walnut stump. (Hope that's not too big a pic)

 

Later-

randy

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You do need to do something with it right now.

The stump shows to be shook. It is going bad from the inside out.

It needs to be cut up, sealed and stacked right away to keep it from cracking further.

It will make some beautiful handle or bowls, what ever you want to make of it.

 

sandpile

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You can also quick dry it by soaking it in alcohol. You weigh it green and then weigh it after it has soaked a few days. When there is no more weight loss then you know it's dried. I have a moisture meter and it's surprising how fast most of the woods I cut on my place dry out. 3-4 dia wild apple limbs are down to 6-8% moisture in less then a year. And I live in damp and cold western WA.

 

As mentioned above the "1 year per inch" is completely over generalized since every wood has a different density and every climate if different. That gets repeated over and over and nobody stops and analyzes the lack of logic to it.

 

I have cut some big ass chunks of maple and split it into 10x10" pieces which are completely dry within a year. If that goofy "rule" was even close to true I would have to wait ten years before burning it. Nobody is going to wait ten years to burn firewood. And anyone that has burned some of the denser hardwoods knows that you split it ASAP because even waiting a few months and it will be so much tougher. I learned that the hard way with madrona which is in the ironwood family. A very dense wood that should take a long time to dry got plenty dry in just over 3 months. enough that I just about beat myself to death splitting it. Most of it I just sawed into chunks.

 

And if you are going to harvest your own wood a moisture meter is a good idea. They are less then $75.

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Mike-

 

Here's a link to the Woodweb.com sawmill diectory (I hope):

 

http://www.woodweb.com/cgi-bin/directories/sdd.cgi

 

You should hit New Jersey about page 8 or 9. Looks like a pretty good list - you should be able to find someone near you.

 

Most of the custom sawyers work in one of 3 ways:

 

 

-by volume - they are paid per board foot (equivalent to a board 12" x 12" x 1" thick). I've seen prices from $.25 to $.45 per bd ft, depending on the mill & the market

 

-by time - they charge per hour of their time. A portable mill will often charge by time because he'll have some setup to do when he comes to your location to cut your logs (probably not your situation), but a fixed mill may work hourly as well. A range here might be $40 to $80 per hour depending on crew, market, etc. And again, this is in my experience - your mileage may vary.

 

 

-share cutting - they cut your wood & keep a "share" (usually 1/2) as payment. If you have small chunks this may not be an option

 

 

Most any small bandmill will tack on an extra charge ($10 - 25) for a band blade that gets ruined in your wood from hitting metal. A nail or 2 isn't going to ruin a blade, 'tho the sawyer won't be happy about having to resharpen it, but if he hits an anchor bolt, an embedded axe head, or a fence wire insulator, that'll likely cost ya, so know what you've got, 'cuz he's going to ask you. Mills don't like yard trees as a rule, & some will refuse to open a log if there's any question.

 

That should be enough to get you started, & at least talk to some mills in your area. Be warned, though, opening an ugly, gnarly chunk of wood is like beating on hot steel - it's addictive. Don't be surprised if you're soon driving a 1-ton pickup & cruising neighborhoods looking for tree service trucks & listening for the sound of a chainsaw. You've been warned!

 

 

Brent-

 

I've heard about guys drying wood with alcohol, but I've never tried it - mostly because I haven't had a large enough quantity of alcohol, or a small enough piece of wood. I assume the wood needs to be immersed, & that a closed container would minimize evaporative loss of the alcohol. Is the alcohol re-useable? Ethyl or methyl, or does it matter? Soak time - just allow the alcohol to penetrate, then air dry? Do you notice any effect on finishing?

 

Thanks-

randy

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The wood has to be weighted down and the container covered. The alcohol will get saturated with water but depending on how much you probably could use it again on a smaller piece. It's nicer to the wood then nuking it. Wood turners will partially turn a piece then alcohol dry it then finish it. I have done it on a few knife handle sized pieces. De-natured alcohol around here is about $11-$12 per gallon. I have also used wood hardener under vacuum to dry wood which seems to work. The vacuum makes the water go to vapor thus pulling it out. Ans at the same time the thin hardener wicks into it.

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Those colors are amazing! Good score!

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A good idea as a little extra insurance might be to get a can of some sort of wood finish, or you can use wax, and just coat the ends of those, it'll make the ends slower to dry out which can help prevent checking as the ends tend to dry fastest compared to the middle, thus cracks.

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Mike ,

I have a Sperber "alaskan" style mill that I would like to get rid of... PM me if you are interested...

 

Your stack looks perfect... time will do the rest... that is some nice looking wood you got there... congrats......

 

Dick

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Mike-

 

Sorry I didn't get back sooner, been away. I told you - it's as addictive as working hot steel! And part of the attraction is that you don't know what's in there 'til you open 'er up. "Nature - the ultimate artist."

 

The guy whose mill we use ran out of good band blades, so we've been waiting for new ones to come in. I was also out & about on the motorcycle the other day & came across a lot where a bunch of walnut logs had been skidded out - & the woods was just full of crotch wood in the tops that were left. That's where the good stuff is. Been trying to get with the owner since to see if I can get a few choice pieces before it all goes to the woodstove.

 

That's a nice stack, for sure. You'll have to start checking farm auctions & flea markets for a small wokshop-size bandsaw to get your fix for now; maybe start a little cottage business..... Nice thing about knife handles - they don't need a very big piece of wood. Downside, that means you start saving every neat little piece you find - "ooh, that'll make great scales for a little necker..." Ask me (or the little woman) how I know. Guess it's better than collecting porcelain cats.... (apologies to any porcelain cat collectors on the forum).

 

Have fun-

randy

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