Wood worthy

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Tastes change. And while I still have my favorite woods for particular applications, I’ve fallen in love with spalted maple.

Regular readers know I’ve also had a lifelong love affair with walnut and cherry – both individually and combined in the same piece. My favorite secondary wood is poplar, which I use for everything from shop furniture and jigs, to drawer boxes and carcass components. And while I don’t have much occasion to use it, no wood is more pleasant to work with than Western red cedar.

But during the course of writing my most recent book on box building, I incorporated spalted maple a number of times for decorative panels and inserts, and for turning stock for a lathe box. And somewhere along the way it became, to quote Bogie, the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I find spalted maple easy to work with, far easier than regular hard maple. It finishes easily and attractively with just about any coating. Best of all, it’s the perfect accent for a variety of other wood species. And because the spalted figuring can vary so widely from board to board, with enough searching you can find the ideal shade of coloration for whatever you’re working on.

Naturally, I’ve been picking it up whenever and wherever I see it. I even found some in the maple rack at one of the local Big Box stores. (Tip: Always check the maple rack at the Big Boxes. You’d be surprised how often you’ll find a board or two of highly figured maple priced the same as the regular stuff. Not always, but often enough to make checking worthwhile.)

Of course, at this point I have more spalted maple stored up than I’ll likely use for quite some time. Meaning I’ll have to be very selective in the projects I choose.

What a nice problem to have.

Till next time,

A.J.

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