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Working with spalted woods re-visited

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by lamia, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. lamia


    Jan 30, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    I know this has been covered before here and there on the boards but I have a couple of questions I didn't find answers to. I just took delivery of my first piece of spalted maple to be used as a top on a multi lam body. While waiting for it to arrive I have been reading everything I can find on the subject of stabilizing it. It seems most of the info out there is for smaller pieces like pen blanks and bowls that don’t deal with large boards or the ability/need to glue the wood after it is stabilized. So I have a few questions

    Normally I let wood sit up a month or 2 because Houston is so humid. Should I let these acclimate before I stabilize them with something? My boards have been kiln dried and are at a low moisture reading right now.

    As for products, I have found these so far, any experience with them?
    If none of these, what have you used that you are happy with for stabilizing spalted wood?

    Once used, which products are better able to be glued and if, let’s say, you used an epoxy sealer/hardener, would you then have to use epoxy glue?

    I’ve also seen where some have used vacuum systems to force whatever you are using into the open pores for better penetration. What are your thoughts on this? Again these were discussed in relation to smaller pieces and smaller vacuum systems. Could it work with larger pieces as well?

    I look forward to hearing everyone’s opinions.
  2. what I have done in the past (and will probably do every time I work with spalted woods) is thin epoxy with denatured alcohol to water consistency and let the wood soak it up in several applications. I would do this after the blanks have been glued if I were you.
  3. lamia


    Jan 30, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    Thanks Wilser, a few more questions. What epoxy do you suggest? Do you apply the mixture with a brush or literally dunk it and let it soak? If I glue the blanks up first, would it be ok to use titebond wood glue or should I use epoxy?
  4. I've been using system three clearcoat and mirrorcoat and they work just fine. I would use epoxy to glue it up. Since these are tops there will not be the need to ever reverse the assembly and you don't risk big glue spots that will show up through the finish in punky areas near the edges. Right now I'm working on a bass that will have a burl top with big voids and I'm using this same process. Once everything is glued up I'll use thinned epoxy to seal it up, then epoxy mixed with wood dust to fill the voids.
  5. lamia


    Jan 30, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    That sounds like the way to go for me. Just one more question. (maybe lol) Once you fill the voids and your happy, what finish will you be using, the clear or mirror?
  6. Yellow


    Apr 20, 2006
    Sooke, BC, Canada
    I am working on a Spalted Maple top right now, and yes, what Wilser said is right on.
    I tried to use a product called WOOD PETRIFIER it works to a degree but not enough, I got some of the Z-Poxi finishing resin for final application.

    I would definitely treat it once at least, before gluing blanks together and routing the shape to prevent it from tearing out during routing, I am a newby and I screwed up one body on a router already but the second one I took extra care and it worked well.

    The body I am making is walnut/mahogony/spalted maple the wings are glued up now, I am going to mask off walnut and mahogony and treat maple once more.

    It is challenging to work with but sure is pretty.
  7. I'm not using these products for finishes, just as a void filler, not even as a pore filler anymore. I'm using target coatings line of products.

    Maybe Tom can join in ...he's the spalted maple guy on TB ;)
  8. T2W


    Feb 24, 2007
    Montreal, Canada.
    I used a spalted maple top on my second build, it wasnt very punky but it sure was soft as butter and really hard to sand properly. I put some CA right on the wood and sanded it in with 150grit, move the sandpaper in your hands (with good gloves !!!) a lot while doing so.
  9. I used the water-thin CA on a spalted maple top, after jointing & gluing down.

    Whatever you use, you need to apply it several times and let it cure well before you try to level it; if you sand through into un-cured wood, you'll have a great variation in the hardness of the surface and those soft spots will develop into big depressions as you continue to sand (and I think CA sands easier than epoxy). I went through 4 stages of CA and level-sanding before I was happy with how well it stabilized.

    I then used sanding sealer on top of that to get a final level before clear coating.

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