Spalted Wood- Watch Out!

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Blog entry by jockmike2 posted 04-22-2008 05:00 AM 2327 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I wrote a blog quite a while ago about spalted woods and the dangers of working around the dust of them. I was working with a lot of spalted maple at the time and I awoke one morning with my eyes almost swollen shut, itching and hurting like crazy. I always wear a face shield, cloth mask and glasses when working on the lathe and had no idea it had anything to do with my woodworking. I went to my eye doctor and she looked over the situation and seemed quite perplexed. She said “you know it looks almost like some kind of fungus”, and it dawned on me right away what it was, I knew spalted wood was caused by a fungus in the tree. So I told her and she had never heard of spalted wood but promised to look it up. Meanwhile she put me on anti fungal eyedrops and somekind of antibiotic. I was truly miserable for at least a week and still felt the affects for another week. When I went back she told me not to turn spalted wood anymore, which wasn’t going to happen. Or if I did to get a resperator and gogles that would completely cover my eyes. She stressed that the fungus could do as much damage to my lungs as it does to my eyes if not more. So, my dear Lumberjock friends beware of that much sought after and much turned and beloved wood, in all species. It is dangerous, meaning, it can kill you, maybe not today or tomorrow but eventually, it will. Peace, and God Bless, Mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

13 comments so far

View againstthegrain's profile


117 posts in 3749 days

#1 posted 04-22-2008 05:07 AM

Thanks for the safety info my friend. Great to know. I love the look of spalted lumber.

-- Anchul - Warrensburg, MO: As a Pastor, I am just trying to get closer to Jesus. He was a woodworker too.

View pappyjohn's profile


138 posts in 3710 days

#2 posted 04-22-2008 05:17 AM

Very Nice Information to Know, Thanks for the Heads-Up. Gotta take care of your Eye’s, without them not much woodworking going on.

-- Your Brother in WoodWorking John, Pittsburgh , PA.

View jcees's profile


1058 posts in 3796 days

#3 posted 04-22-2008 05:45 AM

Yepper, that’s why I haven’t done a thing to the pieces I have that are spalted except to move them around the shop, stare at them and exclaim, “someday I’ll figure out what to do with you.” I have asthma and don’t want to do anymore damage or harm to my lungs than I absolutely have to. Also, I’ve heard that you should also use rubber or latex gloves to handle the stuff as it can also attack some folk’s skin. Yikes!


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3782 days

#4 posted 04-22-2008 06:03 AM

I had a reaction to spalted olive wood I was working with. I was covered head to toe with a rash from HELL!
I knew that the dust from wood was not to good for you but never thought it would do somthing like that to me.
Never again will I use spalted wood w/o the proper protection.
Good Luck to those of you who choose not to use the proper protection while working with spalted wood of any kind.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3796 days

#5 posted 04-22-2008 11:51 AM

great information. Lets hear it for good goggles and masks!!!

-- making sawdust....

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3819 days

#6 posted 04-22-2008 12:31 PM

Thanks for the info Mike. I knew that spalting was caused by fungus but never really made the connection with the possibility of health effects from breathing dust containing this fungus.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3764 days

#7 posted 04-22-2008 01:52 PM

Thanks for helping keep us all safe.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3877 days

#8 posted 04-22-2008 03:29 PM

thanks for the post mike , you just reminded me i have some spalted peaches in the fridge ! the fuzz is now a full beard ! lol i better get rid of them this week before i get a rash ! just kidding thanks for the post

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4084 days

#9 posted 04-22-2008 06:36 PM

Jockmike is right on with this info, the spalding effect in the wood comes from a fungal growth. Sawdust from cutting this wood contains fungal spores that grow on warm wet surfaces, ie bronchi, sinuses or eyes. Can lead to some nasty infections especially if you are allergic to it. A good respirator and goggles are essential when working with any spalded woods. I read once where a guy put his small turning pieces in the freezer before puting them on the lathe. Sorry, regular freezing temps are not cold enough to kill these spores. They can stay dormant for years until the right conditions come along for them to grow. I don’t know if kiln drying gets hot enough to kill them.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3711 days

#10 posted 04-22-2008 07:06 PM

Mike- I had no idea… when I look at spalted wood, I always thought, “well, the stuff is already dead…” I would have never guessed that it could contribute to a fungal infection. I’m glad you posted this… that’s what I love about this site!! Thanks, Mike.

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View jcees's profile


1058 posts in 3796 days

#11 posted 04-22-2008 11:05 PM

Here’s a bit of close reading on the subject of toxicity in woods.

Both of these should be required reading for anyone who wants to work exotic woods.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Grumpy's profile


23916 posts in 3848 days

#12 posted 04-23-2008 02:11 AM

Thanks for the tip Mike. It just goes to show that many types of wood are toxic. I have been working with some ‘Osage Orange’, I understand it can be a bit nasty on the system as well.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4243 days

#13 posted 04-23-2008 02:49 AM

Mr. Trim You’re too much, I love it. My brother and I were selling our baseball cards one weekend about 10 years ago in my front yard. He got in my fridge and found something that had been in there awhile, and put it out with the cards and put up a sign that said guess what it is and win a free card. People were actually trying to guess what it was, until my wife got home and seen it. OMG ! She just about came unglued. She still reminds my brother now and again. But we had a great laugh. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

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