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Stabilizing Soft/Punky Areas

Stabilizing Soft/Punky Areas

Everyone loves the natural, unique look that comes along with Spalted Wood! The gorgeous Smokey Colors and one-of-a-kind Black Line patterns are sought after for every type of project, but this beautiful wood comes with one obstacle: Soft/Punky/Rotted wood.

     

Spalting is dead wood that has undergone a particular form of bacterial decay that often looks like a black ink line of varying thickness and great irregularity drawn through the wood. When it is very sharply defined black lines it is sometimes called “black line spalting”. Because of this decay in the wood, areas of or even the entire slab can become very soft and light with a very low density. Many people see this as a deal breaker, but with a little extra work these areas can be stabilized and the slabs used for any project!

Here in the shop, we stabilize these areas using Clear Epoxy, a Foam Roller, and a Paint Brush. We mix up our TotalBoat 5:1 Epoxy, pour it on the slab, and use the foam roller and brush to coat any soft areas of the wood. As the epoxy soaks into the wood and cures, these areas will gain density and become stable and ready to work! This process may need repeated multiple times to fully stabilize a slab, depending on how deep the soft areas go. You can see a video example of this method here.

       

This is the method that works best for us but there are many other products and methods out there! If you’re interested in a piece like this? Be sure to check out the hundreds of amazing Spalted Live Slabs and Lumber on our site! As you’re looking over the listings, here are a couple tips to tell just how soft/punky the wood is:

  • Check the weight of the slab. If the weight seems light for a piece of that size, chances are it is very low density and soft! Here is a great example. This slab is 2 3/16″ T x 17 5/8″ – 23 5/8″ W x 119″ L but it only weighs 64.3 lbs!
  • Read the bulleted description points below the dimensions. We will ALWAYS note that the slab has Areas of Rot or Areas are Soft/Punky. The more you see this mentioned in the description, the more soft spots it has. Please note: we can only go off of what is on the surface of the slab. We are not able to tell how deep these areas are, and it is very possible that as a piece is worked on, new areas could be exposed.
  • If the slab is EXTREMELY soft, punky, or unstable, we will note this in the description! Watch for phrases like “Price Reflects Severity of Punkiness!” or “Will Need Epoxy to Stabilize Slab” or “Slab is Very Soft/Punky/Fragile and May Break With Enough Pressure Applied!!”.
 

At the end of the day, these pieces are extra work but if you’re willing to give them a chance you won’t be disappointed!

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2 Responses

    1. Hey Jason!

      We use a clear epoxy and roll over the entire surface to avoid any type of staining on the light woods. After this thin all over coat, we apply additional epoxy on the soft/punky areas as needed. The thin epoxy sands off the surface of the slab easily and protects the wood in these areas from staining during the treatment. We don’t turn wood here, so we can’t say if it would help with your glue line issues, but it could be worth a try!

      We hope this information helps!
      Thanks!
      The Lumber Shack

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