A growing number of woodworkers are looking past the decay and discovering the beauties of spalted wood (see health note below). Spalting, the coloring or bleaching of wood by fungi, can happen to any kind of wood, but various conditions determine whether the result is a prizewinning specimen or a punky lump. These include the types of fungi that colonize the wood, how long the fungi remain there, the interactions between different types of fungi, and the type of wood itself. There are three main types of spalting in hardwoods: white rot, pigment (commonly referred to as stain), and zone lines. Just for show. Because spalted wood may have lost some strength, it’s best for non-load-bearing locations such as floating panels. This cabinet, built by Chris Gochnour, uses book-matched panels of spalted maple. Softwoods generally don’t produce usable spalted wood as they are more susceptible to brown rot, which often degrades the wood too quickly for use. White rot is fast but hard to control–White-rot fungi give spalted wood its white appearance by bleaching the lignin found in the walls of wood cells. However, these fungi also reduce the strength and weight of the wood. One of the most common white-rot…
Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers.
Start your 14-day FREE trial to continue reading this story.
Get instant access to all Fine Woodworking content when you try membership today!