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Working with spalted maple?


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Hi!

I recieved a very beautiful spalted maple top today. As I have no previous expirience in workinh with spalted maple, I wonder if it is neccessary to harden it somehow. The piece I have has some bug holes and many weak spots, especially the black lines seem to be not very hard. I guess you cannot use spalted maple without hardening somehow....but how should I make it more stable? Using thin liquid epoxy? Or does that harm the sound? Any tips would be great, as I don't want to ruin this impressive piece of wood.

Thanks in advance,

Marcel Knapp!

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Spalted wood is really just 2 steps away from being rotten wood, that's what the spalt is, is the wood rotting (fungus?) so folks who use spalted wood are not using it for it's inherant tone, just for the looks.

I SOAK it in CYA Hot Stuff, but that stuff is very irritating to use, so yes, epoxy works too.

But before I do anything to it, I try to somehow clamp it flat first. I usually use 2-sided tape to tape it down to something very flat that will hold it until the epoxy or glue dries.

The last thing you want is it drying hard as a rock in a warped or humped condition.

There are some other ways, I'm sure someone else will be along to offer more ways...

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The product you are looking for is CPES.....Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. This stuff is great to harden the soft areas of spalted maple.....I have never used CPES on a guitar body, so I can't tell you how it interacts with laquer or poly. This stuff, if I remember correctly, is about $30 per quart. The Minwax product does OK. Thin superglue will harden the soft fibers and take a glass-like finish.....but to do a guitar top or body requires maybe 8oz or more.....the spalt really soaks up the CA. The superglue(CA) also gives off some toxic fumes if it cures too quickly....The heat generated by the large amount of the CA in the wood fibers, sometimes causes the rapid cure.

I know that you can lacquer over the cured thin CA without any problems.

http://www.rotdoctor.com/

tdog....aka....Greg

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Thanks for the answers. I think I'll rather go with epoxy, because it seems less toxic and dangerous to me. Concerning the finish I guess epoxy will work great with epoxy based paints.

But before I do anything to it, I try to somehow clamp it flat first. I usually use 2-sided tape to tape it down to something very flat that will hold it until the epoxy or glue dries.

As the top I am talking about will have to be bent to the forearm contour, I guess it would be best to bend it to the desired form and then soak it with epoxy, because a already epoxied piece should be quite impossible to bend. Is it a good idea to do it that way?

Thanks,

Marcel Knapp!

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Marcel - are you going to be able to bend that top without it breaking apart? I don't think I have ever seen any info on how to bend a piece of spalted wood. I know it puts a figured maple top under a lot of stress but I don't know if it's enough to cause problems with spalted maple. I'd be very interested to hear whether or not this is possible.

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I guess in your case I would go ahead and glue the top on the body first, using a nice hardwood clamp board to press it down evenly (I do that all the time anyway). Once you get the top on, then do your bendover.

Use some wax paper between the spalt and clampboard, since you have holes in it, the glue will work itself up thru the holes and glue your clampboard to the spalt, and when you pull the clampboard up, up comes your soft spalt with it, so put the wax paper inbetween them.

Then, once everything is glued down, give it a quick block-sand, then apply your epoxy.

Note: save your cutoff pieces to fill in any worm or bug holes with the appropriately-same looking wood chips before filling in with epoxy.

This will especially help in the drop-top area where the bend will occur. I'm guessing there will be some small separations that your cutoff wood will help hide.

Use something like a plastic scraper to scrape that epoxy on with, kind of pressing it (the epoxy) into the pores as you go, but try not to leave a bunch of extra, it just makes for a lot of extra sanding afterwards.

PS, Spalt should bend pretty easily. It's keeping it together if it tries to disintegrate as you bend it that would be the issue.

How thick are your pieces anyway?

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PS, Spalt should bend pretty easily. It's keeping it together if it tries to disintegrate as you bend it that would be the issue.

I guess I didn't word it very well. I thought it would bend quite easily but not without it breaking in many places. Sounds like trouble but I think I'd like to try it someday if I had a good enough looking piece.

By the way, do you have any pics of that top?

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Thanks for your help guys, especially for draks detailed post!

Do you think bending the top is a bad idea altogether? It is 1/8" thick....I would have steam bended it the usual way....

P.s.: I have pictures of the top, but no place to host them....I guess I'll have to join one of these free hosting services....but at the moment I don't have time for that stuff....

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No, it's not a bad idea, 1/8" spalt should bend really easily.

I would just go ahead and do it the way you intended to.

Just keep some cutoffs in case you have to fill in some tiny voids here and there...

It might not even fall apart, usually there are different areas of soft and hard wood in spalted pieces, you might not even hit the spalted part doing the bend...

You can e-mail me the pics GM if you want, I'll stick 'em up, I got the hang of that free-hoster now! :D

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  • 8 months later...

That is a very nice looking piece.

The softer parts of the spalt (grey parts) will soak up lots of moisture from the steam, and if they are on the crest of the forearm contour, they stand a good chance of cracking as it dries out. This happened to me; I just filled with epoxy, and now it just looks like more of the spalt structure.

If you can, try to place the whiter/pinker parts of the spalt on the contour, and it will behave more like regular maple.

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Here ya go.

Nos. 1 and 4 will go together as top and back.

Nos. 3 and 5 will go together as top and back.

Nos. 7 and 2 will go together as top and back.

No. 6 will be a top for one of my Shark V's (building 4 right now)

The quilting/flame pattern is -perfect- for a V. And it was CHEAP!

There is some nice stairstep quilting in 1 and 4, especially no. 1. And they'll be done in natural.

Spalt 1

Spalt 2

Spalt 3

Spalt 4

Spalt 5

Spalt 6

Spalt 7

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I bet you were expecting to see a lot of 'blackline' spalted boards like what you typically see when someone mentions the word spalt?

Hehehe.

Only no. 2 is a real 'blackline' spalt board, but I liked these. I'll be using shellac to compliment those golden tones on most of them.

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Hey guys, just got home from the shop, let me tell you!!. Spalted wood bites. I am a wood patternmaker by trade, I have used all kinds of wood in my 35 yrs on the bench so working wood is second nature, but spalt. I get to just where I want the shape to be, and pow a spunky spot just falls away. I put so much ca glue on it I couldn't see without my eyes watering. It just falls apart. I think it is just the most beautifull stuff next to quilted maple I've seen but it works like ****. Sorry for that word but it is true. I think I have just ruined my guitar. :D

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