January 29, 2012

Spalted Soft Maple

I haven't had a ton of time in the shop lately so it's been quite awhile since my last post. I never quite settled on a design for the nightstands so that project is still on the waiting list. I started working on a storage bench for the entryway to help organize the pile of shoes and winter gear but that project got derailed by some alignment issues I had with my jointer. Getting the jointer re-aligned wasn't fun and it started getting cold so things stalled out for quite awhile. I few weeks ago it was surprisingly warm for January in Wisconsin so I took the opportunity to finally get the jointer tables aligned and I've now started pecking away at the entry bench project whenever it is warm enough to get out in the shop. As soon as I have something worth taking pictures of I'll post an update on that project.

In the mean time here are a few pictures of some wood I dragged home today from a craigslist deal I couldn't resist....

The ad was for soft maple for $1 a board-foot which is a pretty good deal and after talking to the guy he said he had a big pile of "nice" 4/4 boards but they were only 4-5 feet long. He said he also had some "bigger stuff" but it all had stains on it. I started thinking that the "bigger stuff" might make a good workbench top and figured that I could deal with a few stains if the price was right.

When I got there I was a bit disappointed that the "nice" 4/4 boards were all clear of knots but were all checked and cracked pretty bad. The "big stuff" however was a bit more intriguing. They guy was right when he said big as there were a half dozen or more 6/4 slabs that were 18-20" wide and 6-7 feet long. Rather than the sticker shadows that I was expecting the boards turned out to be spalted to various degrees.

I figured I could get some cool looking panels out of the more spalted areas and the plainer off colored areas might still work for a bench-top so I asked the guy how bad he wanted to get rid of it and he said I could have it for $0.50 a board-foot. Sold.

 I picked through the pile avoiding the few that were actually moldy or cracked straight through and ended up with 6 big slabs.

This one had some of the more interesting coloring of the bunch.

I took a block plane to a few areas on a few boards to see what this will look like after surfacing and noticed what appears to be a bit of curly figure. Bonus!

 The curl on the planed area on the one above is a bit more noticeable.

 Here is a picture with a block plane for a size reference.

 The board above appears to have some curl to it as well.

Another shot of the board above.

 In addition to the huge slabs I also grabbed a handful of smaller boards. The one above is only 11" wide.

One of the 11" boards was pretty dark so the guy offered to run it through his planer so I could see what it looked like cleaned up a bit. I'm not an expert on spalted wood but I think this might look pretty cool.

 Here is the whole pile, 140-150 board-feet total. I'm not sure exactly where this is going to fit in the garage but I think I can find room at $0.50/board-foot.