Working With Spalted Wood
When working with spalted wood some precautions are necessary.
It is highly recommended that a dust mask or respirator be worn when working spalted wood. Inhaling sawdust is not healthy, and spalted wood can release mold spores, fungi and other bacteria into the air when being worked. It will be more efficient to sand spalted wood after it has dried. Stay on the safe side and take the precaution to avoid respiratory illness.
This equipment can be found where woodworking tools and supplies are sold. Further, you may want to install an exhaust ventilation system to help avoid build up of very fine or large quantities of spalted wood dust.
When working spalted wood be aware of possible un-evenness in the texture of the material. Spalting is an early stage of rot, and the piece being worked can be alternatively hard and firm or soft and punky. At some point the spalt wood piece may even crumble. There will be less difference in hardness in the spalted wood when it is green, and it will be less of a challenge to work. Always handle your tools in a firm and controlled manner when working spalted wood to avoid injury, and to minimize any damage to the spalted piece.
In order to work a great piece of spalted wood that is "soft", a liquid hardener may be used first to stabilize the piece. Products such as cyanoacrylate glue, clear shellac, sanding sealer, an epoxy resin, or even clear fingernail polish can stabilize spalted wood. Just take care to test first on the spalted piece to be sure of the impact on any finish you are planning to use.
Of course you must at all times wear your eye protection when enjoying your woodworking. The possibilities of flying debris, tools and other objects means that this precaution should be an "automatic".
Most of today's modern equipment is designed to operate as quietly as possible. Even so, it is a good idea to wear hearing protection when operating your power equipment. Even though it may not sound so loud, a long term exposure could damage your hearing. Keeping the sound level down will also help your concentration on the spalted wood piece you are working.
Always be especially cautious around machine tools. Operate the device according to the manufacturer's instructions and NEVER disable or remove any of the safety features built into the equipment.
When turning a piece of spalt wood on a lathe be aware of the hazards. Your hands are in close proximity to the rotating stock and cutting tool. Avoid wearing loose clothing, long hair and jewelry when using the lathe, and be aware of flying chips and splinters from the spalted wood. Work carefully to avoid kickback, which may throw the spalted piece out of the lathe.
Make sure you know how to turn off the power to you equipment in an emergency. Where is that switch? Is it labeled clearly? Is it easily accessible and not blocked by anything? And when you are setting up the equipment for use ALWAYS be sure that the power is disconnected.