Over the holiday weekend I spent some time with my wife’s family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. Their homes are surrounded by acres of heavily wooded hills. There is a lot of downed timber in these hills, what would I look for in the way of wood that might be useful for woodworking? One question in particular, how can you tell if a downed tree is starting to decompose or is spalted? Do you have to split it open to check? Can you see it from cutting a cross section from the tree? Would you just remove a small wedge to check for spalting? Is there anything I should watch for to avoid (certain insects or odd colored rot)?
Any help would be appreciated. There must be someone here who goes out hunting for such things, or books/websites dedicated to finding spalted wood.