View Full Version : spalted bowl

cedar n silky
13th Apr 2007, 09:01 PM
After a long break from turning (well a few months or so), I was down in the shed looking for wood to burn in my kitchen stove (sacralige I know). (Winter is coming on fast, and it looks like it will be a wet one here).
Well I put the chainsaw through a log I had stored away under cover outside, and it was nothing special, just a bit of very young red ash I think. Well sometimes you get a lovely surprise, and this being about the wettest place in NSW, I often complain that I'd like to be in a dryer place, but than I guess you wouldn't get these lovely moulds , would you!:D

13th Apr 2007, 09:04 PM
awesome bowl mate...nice thickness and i like the form too:2tsup:

EX's Timber
13th Apr 2007, 09:06 PM
That's a bewdy, love the spalting :2tsup:

13th Apr 2007, 09:21 PM
G'Day Cedar

Incredible piece of wood, and the form really makes the most of it, great pic


13th Apr 2007, 09:28 PM
How lucky can you get to find a piece of spalted wood like that. Absolutely beautiful and well turned. Good one!!!! :2tsup::2tsup::2tsup:

Darrell Feltmate
13th Apr 2007, 10:18 PM
Nice bowl. And the other half of the log is....?

Gil Jones
14th Apr 2007, 02:49 AM
Wow, that is a for-sure bewdy of a bowl!!! The wood looks rather like my spalted Beech. Mother Nature is very good to us.

dai sensei
14th Apr 2007, 08:38 AM
What can I say, wow :2tsup: To think it could have been burnt :o

It's been very damp here too, but damp not the heavy stuff we need. Unfortunately the only spalting I'm getting looks like plain old mould, all the way through :~

14th Apr 2007, 09:38 AM
...It's been very damp here too, but damp not the heavy stuff we need. Unfortunately the only spalting I'm getting looks like plain old mould, all the way through :~

Has anyone ever tried innoculation in order to get desired moulds to grow in timber for the "right" sort of spalting?

Welcome back Cedarus in a t'rrific way. Like the Darrell said, what happened to the rest of the log?

Gil Jones
14th Apr 2007, 11:44 AM
Read somewhere that pouring beer on the fresh-cut ends of a green log, and placing one end on the ground can start (or instigate) the spalting process.
My wood starts spalting without any help from me, so I just drink the beer, and hope I don't start spalting. :)
Edit: Just found this article on spalting. (not mine)

Spalt Your Own
A Recipe for Creating Spalted Wood
Since the question of spalting comes up time and again, I will share a description of what I use when the natural ingredients aren't available.
A "brew" of some kind is required when the conditions for natural spalting do not exist. There are a lot of ways to induce spalting. Like everything else in woodturning, nothing is "tried and true". You will have to experiment. Some wood spalts. Some wood just rots. Others (cherry and walnut) don't do much of anything.
This spalting brew has everything necessary for almost anything to grow in any wood that wants to spalt. I have used it on maple, birch, beech, sweetgum, oak, alder, holly, and pecan.

1-qt water
2-scoops Miracle grow
2-cans beer, drink one and put th other in the spalting brew.
1-qt horse manure, doesn't have to be fresh, but the ammonia odor should still be present when it gets wet.
1-qt dried oak leaves There is nothing sacred about any of the ingredients as long as we have the nitrogen, organics, ammonia, sugar, malt extracts, tannins, and leaf molds - everything necessary for all kinds of things to grow in the wood. The only additional ingredient is heat.
I have used packaged steer manure from the garden store and added a half cup of household ammonia. Don't use the sudsing type because it contains detergents which will kill the growth.
All leaves contain some amount of tannins, oak leaves contain more than others. I have used maple, alder, sweetgum, and apple leaves, but about 3 times more. Wood chips will not work because you need the leaf mold. You can use chunks of rotten wood to replace the leaves, but the spalting is different with more of an area discoloration than the lines we are looking for. The large black areas look good in oak, but not other wood.
Put the wood in a trash compactor bag (they are heavier than the others) when it is fresh cut and still wet. If the ends have dried, saw off a slice to open up the wet wood. It works better in wood cut in the spring when the sap is up and the free-water in the wood is at its highest. Apply a liberal amount of the brew on each end, and seal the bag.
Now we will need that last ingredient, warmth. Store the sealed wood indoors under an old electric blanket during the winter months when the outdoor daytime temperature is below 65-degrees. Otherwise, outside is fine.
Check it after 2 months. You will be looking for a black slimy mess on the wood, with things growing out of it. Mushrooms are good. Clean it up and split it in half if you can. If it isn't what you want, put the halves together and back in the sealed bag.
You can use chunks or shavings of spalted wood instead of the brew, but it takes forever, and sometimes doesn't start because it is dead. The brew is faster, more reliable, and gives better spalting (my opinion).
You could just seal the wet wood in the bag without adding anything, but some will spalt, and some won't.
And, when all of the ingredients are available in nature, then you don’t need a brew to start the process. Just throw the wood under a tree, let the grass grow up around it, and nature will take its course. Covering it with some leaves will help. Put something under it to get it off the ground, otherwise it will rot on that side.

14th Apr 2007, 12:31 PM
Seems like perfection in spalting, to me. Very well done.
It would have burned too fast anyway, to have done much heating.
I'm just curious how you got it to grow the knife....

14th Apr 2007, 02:02 PM
Seems like perfection in spalting, to me. Very well done.
It would have burned too fast anyway, to have done much heating.
I'm just curious how you got it to grow the knife....

he didn't, it's the latest attachment fer the SAK.

14th Apr 2007, 02:30 PM
Sigh.... given our copious quantities of rain in Sydney...not. I resort to all sorts of formulae and recipes all dumped in a garbage bag and stowed away somewhere safe and hope for the best.

great looking piece

14th Apr 2007, 06:43 PM
That piece is just beautiful :cool:

I heard you can put yoghurt into a plastic bag, along with your wood and that spalting results in reasonably short time. I don't have to use the method as our wet season does it thing, but seems a very simple idea. Has anyone tried it?

cedar n silky
15th Apr 2007, 10:53 AM
Nice bowl. And the other half of the log is....?
Hi everyone, and thanks for the nice comments.:)
Darrell/ Tashammer, the rest of the log is about to go down to the workshop and be cut into bowl and box blanks. I imagine the mould (and decay) will keep going even though the wood is pretty dry now (although the humidity around here is still up around 80-90%, and not likely to go away untill around July, August).
Any comments on halting the process (if it is still happening at a cellular level), or do I have to "pull my finger" out and turn it all soon?:- I would like to take my time with this stuff if possible.

15th Apr 2007, 11:06 AM
well done that man :)

19th Apr 2007, 11:07 AM
...Any comments on halting the process (if it is still happening at a cellular level), or do I have to "pull my finger" out and turn it all soon?.
Better to send some up here so I can help you get through it all (generous of me eh!)
But seriously, I've found moving it to a dryer spot is all it takes to halt the spalting (ie: high shelf in the shed)

BTW - Bloody beautiful bowl Cedar :2tsup:

Skew ChiDAMN!!
19th Apr 2007, 11:54 AM
How'd I miss this one? Lovely piece! Reminds me of a stained-glass window. :)

I'm another who's tried their hand at spalting... and ended up with plain old rotten wood. I've tried a leaf-mould method, a beer method and a few others... haven't tried yoghurt yet, bet all I'll get out of it is ruined yoghurt and soggy wood. :rolleyes:

20th Apr 2007, 01:59 PM
Skew, ya do know that you are supposed to stand there, then eat the yoghurt, then watch the fungus grow don't ya? Some silly billies think they have to smear it on the wood which is fine if you are using a cows teat. 'N resawing a cow is no fun let me tell you.

Sometimes it helps if you scrape some from friendly mould, chat it up, say you have a nice place that you would like to show it and take it from there.

Lots of approaches, really. Just be your creative self young feller.

20th Apr 2007, 09:30 PM
G'Day Cedar

Totally enthralled with this spalting thing after seeing your magic bowl, so have been doing some reading. Came across a couple of things of interest...http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/techline/producing_spalted_wood.pdf
and http://www.ovwg.org/New-OVWG-Site/Techniques/spaltingwood.htm

I have an old aquarium in the shed hasn't been used for years so intend to dig it out and try the artifical atmosphere idea, any suggestions ?


25th Apr 2007, 12:24 PM
when I first started turning,someone told me that when you get a green log you seal the ends and leave it to dry. Well my wife saw these tree loppers cutting down this tree and came racing home, saying "you had better get up there and get some of this tree", so off I went and came home with about 5 big logs. So Remembering the instructions of sealing the ends, I did this with some brown paint that I had in the shed, (no one had said what to seal it with) and I left them for about 12 months, my mate came over with his chain saw and we started to cut up the logs to help them dry quicker, lo and behold they had all this black lines & designs through it and every one who saw it said "bad luck now you will have to start again". Well I turned a bowl & my wife said "yuk" and it was the first bowl sold at the market now I can't keep up supplies and I'm running out of timber, so may be if you want spalted timber then have an accident like I did. I have found it very profitable. BY the way it was a common Poinciana tree, not an exotic wood.
Rod W

cedar n silky
30th Apr 2007, 10:32 PM
Hi Rod.
Yep It happened just about as you described it. I just painted the ends with common old house paint, and left the wood outside under cover, but offf the ground for about 12 months! All by accident of course.
I do live in a very damp valley particularly in Winter, and well it's sub-tropical in Summer. So if you were trying to replicate the process, you would have to take your particular climate into consideration!:D Out West where it is dryer , you might have to wet it regularly, use plastic bags, maybe even bury it in wet sawdust or in the ground for a period of time. And as the previous posts have said, you might have to "inoculate" it. Maybe with spores and moulds from a "wetter" place. There might be a market for someone who lives in a "wet" place! (selling spalting starter!):doh: