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Working With Holly


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A few months ago I bought a small block of holly for use in inlays. A few days ago I ran the sides through the jointer to flatten them out. Almost the whole thing turned a powdery blue. :D

I sanded a spot with no difference. It's sat for a few days, hoping it would oxidize white, but nothing.

1) Any ideas why this happened?

2) What can I do about it?

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Its a very common reaction with fresh cut holly. My last GOTM entry featured a one-piece tele style neck cut from a solid block of holly. The wood was cut from a log I found in a client's yard. There were blue/green streaks in the grain afterwards. After quartersawing I had to let the wood sit for over 2 years before it could be used. I heard its some sort of oxidization effect when exposed to iron and air. I've also heard that its a fungus. Either way the discoloration is inherent with this species.



There are other woods that can "weird-off" on you like that. Fresh cut purpleheart will go dull grey if not protected from sunlight.

Edited by Southpa
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I've usually heard that the blue comes from a fungus that is common with holly if not dried quickly and properly. I got a few logs from my neighbor when he cut his down and cut them into strips that afternoon and put them right into a home-made solar kiln. The off-cut went on the firewood pile and all turned mostly bluish-green. The stuff in the kiln ended up with a few minor streaks of color but stayed mostly white. I left them to finish air-drying and are finally ready to use. From most of my research it seems the key is to get the majority of the moisture out of the wood quickly, so I am guessing your piece may not have been dried properly. Though I could be wrong on this, I never found any 100% definitive answers.

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