TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter, January 2012
Saturday , 29 November 2014 , 08 : 39 PM
TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter
December 2011/January 2012 Edition
Focus on Wood - Spalted Ambrosia Maple

Flat Sawn

Quarter Sawn

End Grain

General Information:

Spalted ambrosia maple is a term used to describe any type of maple which has been infested with ambrosia beetles, and at the same time has developed spalting caused by a variety of fungi present in the wood. The wood contains streaks of reddish brown and bluish grey caused by the ambrosia beetle. These tiny beetles bore into the wood, not to feed, but rather to make their homes. As they tunnel through the wood, they leave behind two types of fungus. One is the ambrosia fungus, which provides a food source for the beetle and its larvae as they grow (and which also provides the name for the beetle, as well as the type of lumber produced). The second fungus is a type of fungus which causes discoloration in the wood...creating streaks of color. On top of the colored streaks caused by the ambrosia beetle, these trees have also transformed from a light yellowish tan color to a mixture of dark greens and dark pinks which are intermixed with the other colors caused by the ambrosia beetle. These trees are quite rare, and this wood is only available in very limited quantities.

Common Name(s):

Spalted ambrosia maple, spalted wormy maple, wormy maple


30.5 lbs/ft3 - Moderately dense


850-1150 lbft - Moderately hard

Specific Gravity:


Turning Properties:

Turns very well, with very little dulling effect on tools. Only a slight tendency to tear out across the end grain.

Drying Properties:

Dries very well, with little potential for checking or cracking. Moderate movement occurs during drying. Very stable once dried.

Sanding Properties:

Sands very well. For removing tool marks, 120 grit sandpaper is recommended. Will sand to a naturally high luster, usually requiring grits no higher than 600 to achieve excellent results.

Finishing Properties:

Readily accepts nearly any type of finish. Accepts stains well, but generally is not needed due to the fantastic array of colors naturally present in this type of wood.


Although very uncommon, the dust from any variety of maple wood can be irritating to the sinuses and can cause breathing problems for persons with preexisting respiratory disorders.

Turning Tutorials - Working With Natural Defects in Wood, Part 1

Working With Natural Defects in Wood, Part 1

This month we will begin a series of tutorials that will focus on working with the natural defects in wood. We will cover everything from beginning to end...how to plan ahead and how to recover from problems. This month we will begin with the initial stage of turning, in which the turner must decide the best orientation for a piece of wood.

Inspecting Grain Patterns -

With woods that have a characteristically straight grain pattern, one should inspect the outer surface of the wood for any areas of twisted or distorted grain. While these unusual grain patterns can look quite stunning in a finished piece, they can also be indicators of a possible defect on the interior of the wood. To reduce the chances of having an unforeseen knot or hole ending up in your finished piece by mistake, orientate your blank so that any areas of twisted or distorted grain will be removed as waste, thereby improving the odds that any potentially invisible defects will be removed as well.

Positioning Bowl and Platter Blanks -

As a tree grows, branches will fall off near the lower portion of the tree once they become shaded by larger branches above. As these limbs die off, they are quickly covered by bark and eventually grow into the tree's cellular structure. After many years, these tiny remnants of knots will remain near the center of a tree, with mostly clear, defect-free wood surrounding them in the outer part of the tree. To minimize your chances of finding one of these small, ingrown knots on the interior of your bowl or platter blank during turning, orient your blank so that the face that was originally closer to the center of the tree becomes the area that will be hollowed out as waste. The wood nearest the center of the tree is more likely to contain unforeseen defects. An easy way to do this - look at the end grain of the wood, where you will see the tree's annual growth rings. The larger, wider growth rings will become the bottom of your bowl or platter, the smaller, more tightly compacted growth rings will become the top of your bowl or platter.

All archived monthly newsletters do not include the following:

  • Business updates
  • Recently added woods and schedule of upcoming woods
  • Photo of the month contest results
  • Discounts and upcoming sales information

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