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Tips on working with soft spalt maple?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Tim Barber, May 25, 2003.

  1. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    I've got a bookmatched piece of spalt maple that I got on eBay for a bass top. Problem is, it is very soft, almost semi-rotten in certain parts. I complained to the seller and they said keep it, they will just credit my account. Which is cool, but now I'm wondering if there might be a way to use the wood after all. It really looks good, but areas of the figure are very porous and almost as soft as cork. It just turns to dust when I try to plane it. Does anyone have experience with stabilizing wood like this so it can be worked, and if so, how do you do it? Or is it just opening up a can of worms? I appeal to your collective wisdom. :)
  2. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    two solutions:

    epoxy or superglue :D

  3. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Yeah, what he said!
  4. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    OK, as in: build and sand out the body and then paint/soak it with the glue, or are you treating the wood before you assemble the laminates?

    Thanks for the replies :)
  5. gyancey


    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Minwax makes a product called Wood Hardener for stiffening rotten woods. It is very thin and will soak into the wood. I've used that and super glue - both work.
  6. Carey


    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    I used a product form Bondo of all companies. It's sold as a rotted wood stabilizer, which is what you want to do, really. I believe it is very similar to the Minwax stuff. I'm still trying to figure out what is in it, but it seems to work...
  7. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    Thanks for all the replies :)

    I assumed I just got a really bad piece, since it is the first time I have dealt with spalt. But now I'm guessing that this is not such a unique problem, if you all have had to deal with it too. Live and learn!
  8. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Actually, the rotting is what makes the wood "spalted". So no, the problem you're having is not unique--it's pretty much a fact of working with spalted wood, though I expect some pieces are harder to work with than others.

  9. gyancey


    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Oh yeah I also made a small tortilla sculpture with the wood hardener - it soaks in and preserves the tortilla. One day I plan on making a Tortilla Hat.
  10. Carey


    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    Hah Greg,
    That cracked me up!
    Now though I'm wondering what else one can harden with this stuff. Maybe an old hat that's too worn out to wear anymore, but you can't bring yourself to throw away?
    Hmmm... possibilities!
  11. dhuffguitars

    dhuffguitars Luthier/Bass Wanker depending on your opinion

    Sep 18, 2001
    Wear a good repirator when working with it!!!!!

    And get ahold of me if you ever need a hand around there, I also live in Spokane!!!

  12. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    greg, will you make me a spalted tortilla hat ?