Never turning spalted ANYTHING again...

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A bit of a rant...

So the first time I turned a spalted pen it was straight spalted maple- no epoxy, no stabilization, nothing.  I figured that, with as delicate as it is, I'd use my carbide tools.  One small catch and it exploded...  Ok, so i went back to Rockler and picked up a stabilized piece.  Talked to the resident pen turner there and his advice was to use my HSS tools to produce cuts as opposed to shavings and to make sure my tools were sharp. I managed to turn it and got a nice result.  

So my mother asked for a bunch of pens to give away as gifts.  Of course, she wanted not one, but three spalted maple pieces.  I figured, I had learned my lesson and knew what I needed to do, so I agreed.  And of course, the first one exploded before I could even round it off.  So I resharpened my tools and went at it again, and managed to turn two of the pens without issues after that.  Last night, I went to work on the third (a pencil to match one of the pens).  I had freshly sharpened tools and a ton of patience, taking very light passes, when out of nowhere the entire tip breaks away.  I found the pieces and epoxied them back on with some of the shavings to fill any gaps and then covered the whole piece with some thin CA and more epoxy to try and stiffen it up.  It worked and I finished the turning.  It came out beautiful.  Then I went to assembly.  As I pressed the cap coupler into place, my heart sank as I heard the wood split right along one of the lines of spalting.  I figured, I'd push out the coupler and re-glue/finish the cracked part.  And that was the end of that piece.

So now, I'm off to Rockler to get a new pencil kit and yet another spalted blank- which will be my last.  4 pens, 7 blanks (At $7 apiece).  I've had other blanks tear out, gouge, etc... usually when I'm being a bit sloppy or need to sharpen my tools, but I have never had anything as finicky as this stuff.  From now on, I'm sticking to Cocobolo, Walnut or African Blackwood.  :angry::lol:

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I've used Minwax wood hardener on spalted pieces with very good results.   Epoxy can only soak in so far, but a stabilizer will penetrate much better.  Especially with pen blanks, where like 95% of the blank turns into dust, the only part you really want is the middle of the blank, and you'll need that part stabilized more than the outer parts. 

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I'm sorry. That sounds frustrating. I've never had trouble with spalted wood but then haven't tried it as a pen blank. I would try Marmotjr suggestion to see if that helps. If it doesn't you may want to switch to another type of blank. 

This is a spalted bowl I turned over the summer. I think I turned the whole thing with a square radius carbide tool. 



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