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Picking Apart (Spalted?) Pecan Logs

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by John Fogerty, Sep 4, 2014.

  1. John Fogerty

    John Fogerty

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    Hi, I'm relatively new to woodturning and had some questions about wood selection.

    I had a pecan tree taken down 5 days ago that was growing a few feet from my house and am interested in using some of the wood for future turning projects. The cut ends of the logs look unusually colorful to my eye, but I was hoping to get other opinions about what this might look like when turned. The end grain looks mostly light-colored without much grain definition, but there are these nice rings of reddish-brown on all the logs to varying degrees. Is this spalting? Whatever it is, I'm wondering if it's going to be visible in the wood once I've turned it into a box, bowl, pen, chess piece, etc?


    20140904_114608.jpg
    20140904_133651.jpg
    20140904_133735.jpg
    20140904_114521.jpg


    I don't own my own lathe yet, so I don't go through wood very quickly at all and probably won't keep all of these logs for turning, but I'd like to pick a few of the interesting pieces for projects. Any tips on which parts of the tree I should look for that might yield beautiful, interesting grain patterns?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    Pecan Turns great while it is green. All your logs except #2 look normal beautiful color. You will want to seal the ends. Since you have it cut into shorter pieces you will also want cut the pith out, i.e. split the log making 2 cuts and take the pith out. Like this (ll) with the pith between the parallel lines.
    Do not know what you know about sealing the ends so here goes. I use parafin to seal. Can in urgent need use latex paint. There are also commercial sealers. The point is seal these now, they are already showing some cracks.
    Oh by the way pecan (related to hickory) is very hard when dry and the blank (rough turned) moves a good bit also.
     
  3. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    ^^ What Gerald says! It is already splitting -- the cracks radiating from the pith. If the pith isn't removed soon as Gerald indicates in his very clever text diagram, the amount of usable wood might be significantly reduced. Using either a bandsaw or chainsaw, I would cut about an inch or more on either side do the pith so that you will wind up with two almost half round sections and a flat slab containing the pith. The most important part is coating the ends, but I also coat the flat face of the halves. The purpose is to slow down the rate of drying and reduce further cracking. If possible, put the logs in your shop or garage or at least in a place that is always in the shade. I use Anchorseal to coat the wood. It is a a water based emulsion containing paraffin wax and some type of anti-freeze (not something necessary here in Texas). My turning club buys it by the 55 gallon drum and then puts it in gallon jugs for our members. Woodcraft and Rocklers sell the same thing and call it something like Green Wood Sealer. Some people melt paraffin wax and coat the ends. As Gerald says you can use latex paint if you do not have anything else, but it is not as effective as the wax sealers.

    The sooner you turn the wood, the better. While it is still wet, it will be easy to turn, but once it is completely dry, it will be very hard and will dull your tools quickly. So, buy, borrow, or steal a lathe ASAP. :rolleyes:
     
  4. Jerry Bailey

    Jerry Bailey

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    +1 for everything Gerald says, that and last photo looks like some spalting happening ........

    this is spalted pecan I got from a local trimmer, if yours is spalted, this is what you can expect for grain/coloring

    BWL 105.JPG BWL 105a.JPG
     
  5. Shawn Pachlhofer

    Shawn Pachlhofer

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    I don't think there's any spalting showing - just typical coloration for pecan.

    you could force it to spalt if you want
     
  6. John Fogerty

    John Fogerty

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    Wow, thanks everyone for the quick responses. Really appreciate all the insight and explanation of process as well as the encouraging pictures of finished product (gorgeous bowl!). I'm excited to see what this beautiful wood that landed in my yard turns into, will post back with pictures if I find anything interesting waiting in these logs.
     
  7. Steve Worcester

    Steve Worcester Admin Emeritus

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    Pecan will readily spalt if you can keep the moisture content up. Seal the ends, keep it off the ground to prevent borers, and you will get some spalt in a month or so.
    understand that spatl is part of a higher moisture decay process, so you can go from spalt to sponge in a short period. Best to turn green what you can and if it spalts, it does.

    I do force spalt, but only on green turned bowls and forms, not usually logs
     
  8. Jerry Bailey

    Jerry Bailey

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    Steve, AFAIK the spalting process also requires some sort of spore or fungi
    how do you force a spalting of a rough turned bowl with just moisture ??????
    that's a process I'd love to know more about if not needing/requiring a spore/fungus/etc ....

    TIA
     
  9. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    John Please note that pecan does have lots of surprises. You may have a beautiful red swirl just to see it turned away to get to final form. There may be holes in the middle or edges of a finished project when there was no indication of that defect (opportunity) from the outside.


    {QUOTE=Steve Worcester}

    Pecan will readily spalt if you can keep the moisture content up. Seal the ends, keep it off the ground to prevent borers, and you will get some spalt in a month or so.
    understand that spatl is part of a higher moisture decay process, so you can go from spalt to sponge in a short period. Best to turn green what you can and if it spalts, it does.

    I do force spalt, but only on green turned bowls and forms, not usually logs

    Steve , I too would like to know how as I always have spaulted (a tricky process to decide when to stop) the log.
     
  10. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I believe that all of the ingredients including fungi are already present and all that is needed is the right environmental conditions.
     
  11. odie

    odie

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    It is my understanding that spalting does not occur on a live tree......Am I right, or wrong about that?

    If I'm correct about that, then the pecan wood from a freshly downed tree should not have any spalting.

    ooc
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  12. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    The heartwood isn't living tissue even though the tree is "alive". You have no doubt seen hollow trees where the heartwood has rotted away. I would guess that fungi (and spalting) existed during the decay process. You may be correct that spalting wouldn't be found in the new xylem.
     
  13. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    Odie I thought I posted this yesterday and cannot find it. Looked spalting up on wiki and found the following. This is just the first paragraph:

    Spalting is any kind of wood coloration caused by fungi. Although primarily found in dead trees, spalting can also occur in stressed tree conditions or even in living trees.

    There is a website for a researcher doing experiments on spaulting
     

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