Sycoline Slim

Never-before-seen breakage pattern in Maple

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I was cutting off pieces of a red maple that had died (but still standing) while there was still enough solid wood to make something out of.  One piece broke before I sawed all the way through revealing a most interesting “breakage” pattern.  Start by looking at “Maple 2.” The top is a section perpendicular to the length of the limb (a “cross-cut” had it been cut).  When I first saw this, I thought that the bands were worm burrows, but I’d never seen anything like this. A closer look (see "Maple Details"), shows a fascinating pattern.  All the “solid” bands (bottom 3 labeled) are indeed solid - pressing into them with the point of a nail revealed that they are as solid as live, green wood.  The porous bands are also relatively solid.  A microscopic view shows that the latter are composed of parallel fibers with much of the material between the fibers missing. You can see the parallel fibers in the photo by looking carefully. When I first saw it, I thought that it would make a really fascinating pattern for a band saw box or the like.  Unfortunately, when I cut across the wood parallel to the top, none of these details were visible (staining didn’t help).  “Maple 1” shows this cut (front side, with spalt lines). “Maple 3” shows that small diameter worm holes are common.  “Maple 2” shows much larger worm holes, some of which included dead adults.  The worm holes, however, seem to have nothing to do with the banding.  Any explanations or has anyone seen anything similar?  Thanks

 

 

Maple 1.JPG

Maple_2_.jpg

Maple 3.jpg

Maple Details.jpg

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The black streaks are spalting. It's a fungus that eventually will rot the wood. With live worms in it I would keep it away from my shop and any decent wood.

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This is my first experience on Wood Talk and I am impressed with all the responses.  Unfortunately, no one seems to have any idea what has caused this structure, but in a way that is a good thing.  It means that it must be, as I suspected, something pretty unusual.  I don’t see a way that the forum allows me to respond to individual comments (let me know if there is), so I’ll respond here to two:  To Wdwerker:  The only spalting I see is on one smooth cut side (the front in the first photo).  I don’t think that is related to the structure I’m curious about, but maybe you know something I don’t.  To K Cooper:  I like making small items from pendants to bandsaw boxes.  At this point, I don’t see much of a way of incorporating this 3-D structure into anything that would be particularly pleasing to the eye and the pattern disappears when cut flat (2-D).  I’ve got plenty of it though.  This is just a sample.  Let me know if you have any ideas.

 

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It just looks like punky wood to me...you find it in wet deadwood on the ground more often but you can find it in standing dead sometimes too.  It's just a particular stage of rot really.  I've never looked at it that closely because it's not good for much, including firewood but especially not for furniture.  It does have a weird pattern to it and perhaps the worms have something to do with it...but honestly I think it's just rotten wood.  Anyway, what did you plan to do with it?

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Eric, It is kind of punky, but I've cut, split, and examined my own firewood for decades.  I've seen a lot of punky wood, but never anything like this.  I tend to agree that it will be a challenge to figure out anything creative to do with it, but I do like a challenge.  This is one reason I started the post (the main ones being - what the hell causes the pattern and have others seen it) - there are a lot of creative people out there that might have suggestions.  I stained it hoping that an interesting pattern might reveal itself, but no luck there.  Anyone had any experience with sand blasting?!  Bring on the ideas guys.  For those who have never seen a bismuth crystal, I've posted one below.  This is sort of what it reminds me of.  I plan to take more of the log apart today and see if it reveals anything new.  I do love this Forum!

 

 

Bismuth.jpg

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It reminds me of petrified wood honestly. If you found a way to protect it it could be a cool out door western themed something. You could even combine it with petrified wood to make a bench and use pieces like this as accents. I'm grasping at straws here. Some people probably will hate it though others might love it, that's the best/worst part about opinions every one is both right and wrong at the same time.

I've always though bismuth crystals are cool but i like math and science. The geometric naturally occurring patters are cool.

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The crystalline nature is key. That punk had water in it enough that the sugar did not prevent thorough freezing. That part of the trunk broke along water lines and sugar lines. That's my theory. 

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If you can get a larger round to break like this one, I could see doing an epoxy pour to seal it, and then maybe insetting that in a small round table? Kind of like those shadow-box coffee tables.

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I THINK I’VE FIGURED IT OUT.  With the help of comments made here, by my woodworking friends, and a closer examination of other pieces, this is my theory:  The large linear bands on top (see 3rd or 4th photo down) are indeed worm or termite burrows but rather than the soft “sawdust” that I’m used to seeing left behind, it has been impregnated with a “glue” to make it solid.  The glue could be a product of the insect, the original wood, or a combination.  The different shades of light brown are homogeneous throughout the length of each tube but not among all the tubes.  This could be the result of some slight variation in the “biochemistry” of the individual insect.  I sent an email to my local pest control company to see what they have to say about this part of the theory and see if they can guess what the insect species are.

Now this still leaves an explanation for why different bands break off at different heights while individual bands stays at the same height - sort of like a terraced field in Asia (see Maple 2).  A closer look seems to answer this question.  On the photo below, I got a thin enough piece to see what was going on on both sides. The bottom photo shows the “terraces’ as seen in photo “Maple 2” above.  Now, looking on the backside (upper half photo), it can be seen that the terraces show up as wormholes.  The burrows “A” and “B” on the top photo, are the backsides of the terraces “A” and “B” on the back.  Note that these are not, the same worm holes (if that’s what they are) that show up as thick curving bands that can be seen from the top (Maple Details photo).  These are much shorter and the holes clearly have a smaller diameter.  Clearly a different species.  Note that they are all roughly straight with an orientation that was parallel to the gound.

 

This explanation would also explain why this is not something often seen in the field.  It is probably a chance occurrence of two different species that worked the same area of the trunk.  I got some interesting suggestions for how this wood might be used for an art project.  However, in doing the further research, I found that there was only a small part of the log that contained this structure.

 

Feel free if you tend to agree or have come up with an alternative theory.

Terraces,_Frt_and_Bk.jpg

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@Sycoline Slim, sorry I didn't join in earlier. It seems that once again, they forum is not sending me notifications so I did not know I had been mentioned in a thread. @Eric, any idea why I'm missing notifications again?

Anyway, that's some weird s*** going on. Have not seen anything like it. Seems to me like you've come up with an explanation that is more likely than anything I could suggest.

I'm not into trees and bark at all. My expertise is strictly with the wood in plank form. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, it's only a rumor that those planks even COME from those "tree" things. :lol:

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Yes, I'm satisfied I got it figured out.  I love a mystery.  I knew it was not something common because I'd never seen it before.  When no one on the Forum recognized it either, I knew it was something very unusual.  As it turned out it was more a matter of several things that happened to occur at the same place in the log.  I've checked more of the log and could not find it again. Wish there was something interesting I could make out of it!

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4 hours ago, phinds said:

 @Eric, any idea why I'm missing notifications again?

Sorry Paul, I have no idea.  In fact I believe my settings are correct but I didn't get this notification either...I just stumbled upon it.  Maybe Marc can look into it...if he gets this notification. @thewoodwhisperer ?

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38 minutes ago, Eric. said:

Sorry Paul, I have no idea.  In fact I believe my settings are correct but I didn't get this notification either...I just stumbled upon it.  Maybe Marc can look into it...if he gets this notification. @thewoodwhisperer ?

OK, thanks.

 

1 hour ago, Sycoline Slim said:

Yes, I'm satisfied I got it figured out.  I love a mystery.  I knew it was not something common because I'd never seen it before.  When no one on the Forum recognized it either, I knew it was something very unusual.  As it turned out it was more a matter of several things that happened to occur at the same place in the log.  I've checked more of the log and could not find it again. Wish there was something interesting I could make out of it!

If you have a great interest in wood ID, check out my primer at

http://woodbarter.com/threads/wood-anatomy-an-introduction.18349/

 

 

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