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Is this heartwood or pith, and is it usable?

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Forum topic by Jaybill McCarthy posted 11-26-2014 10:26 PM 1948 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jaybill McCarthy

3 posts in 737 days


11-26-2014 10:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: maple question

I recently acquired these maple rounds from a tree service I work with.

I’m a turner and I’d like to cut these up for bowl blanks. I’ve cut up maple logs before (though nothing nearly this big) and I’ve never seen that super dark, nearly black stuff in the middle. It doesn’t appear to be rotted in any way, it’s just dark in color.

My question is this: Is that heartwood, pith, or both? If so, can I use any of that part, or is that going to be totally unstable?

-- --Jaybill


8 replies so far

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jdh122

879 posts in 2277 days


#1 posted 11-26-2014 11:00 PM

The pith is only the very center of the tree, less than a half an inch in diameter. So the answer is that the dark stuff is mostly heartwood and a very small amount of pith. You can definitely use it but you’re going to want to split each piece in half, which won’t leave much to work with. You’ll end up with very deep and narrow bowls with steep sides.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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Colin_Zimmerman

37 posts in 1435 days


#2 posted 11-26-2014 11:18 PM

Mold caused by sapstreak? I think it’s just a surface mold caused after cutting and drying. I don’t know if the black will run through the log, but if it has sapstreak then there might be grain discoloration. I dunno for sure. Just something we talked about in a college course once.

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jdh122

879 posts in 2277 days


#3 posted 11-26-2014 11:30 PM

Not sure what kinds of maple you had before or what this is, but sugar maple generally has very dark heartwood, seems pretty normal to me. It’s why maple boards (at least high grade ones) are all sapwood.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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Jaybill McCarthy

3 posts in 737 days


#4 posted 11-26-2014 11:38 PM


You can definitely use it but you re going to want to split each piece in half, which won t leave much to work with. You ll end up with very deep and narrow bowls with steep sides.

Related question: My usual method of splitting (admittedly much smaller) logs is this:

That way I get two bowl blanks, two quarter-sawn pieces and the pith. (Yay, firewood!) It seems like this might not be the best way to approach something this large. What would you do instead?

-- --Jaybill

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WDHLT15

1571 posts in 1936 days


#5 posted 11-27-2014 02:03 AM

It is heartwood. Probably soft maple, probably red maple. The heartwood figure can be dramatic. Here is a pic of some maple boards with the dark heartwood. Looks like black flame.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

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EPJartisan

1116 posts in 2585 days


#6 posted 11-29-2014 11:17 PM

oooo.. That’s a some nice dark maple there, Danny!

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

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WDHLT15

1571 posts in 1936 days


#7 posted 12-01-2014 02:12 AM

It really is nice.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

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Jaybill McCarthy

3 posts in 737 days


#8 posted 12-01-2014 09:09 PM

Thanks for the input, everybody! Here are the bowl blanks I got out of just two of those rounds. The contrast between the heartwood and the sapwood is super dramatic. I think this is going to make some very nice bowls!

-- --Jaybill

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