Spalted wood was unwanted for a long time until now. Nowadays, woodworkers are searching for new design ideas, for example, using recycled or barn wood, decorating with colourful various material inlays and using wood which was used as a firewood some years ago. Spalted wood include colors not normally found in wood, contrasting light and dark colors adjacent to each other, and most notably, unique brown and black lines running through the wood.
I’d recommend to try one or few times with soft woods to get experience, faster results and understand spalting process. When you feel that you are ready to try it with hard wood, I recommend to pick maple, birch or beech wood because of their color and hardness. Maple is especially good because areas that receive too much spalting won’t turn as soft as others.
Spalting, as mentioned, comes from fungi. Fungi likes to grow in warm and moist conditions. You will need a container that can close but does not have a complete seal. Oxygen needs to get in to allow the fungi to grow. Try and fill your container with some soil and humus (dead plant matter) to encourage fungi growth. The ideal conditions for spalting are darkness with around 80% humidity and 80ºF temperature. Green wood or fresh timber probably already have some fungus present so adding more will make spalting quicker.
If you have the right conditions for growth then your wood can be ready to work after the first 5-6 weeks. I’d recommend to check it every 2 weeks because spalting can make wood too soft to work with. Once you remove it from container, make sure to air-dry it before use.
Here are some examples of beautiful spalted wood: