From contributor L:
Reaction wood is my best guess. From my experience, you can never make it into good stuff.
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The fuzz could be caused by wetter wood, but it is much more likely that it is a special type of wood cell that forms in the growing tree called tension wood. Tension wood is typically much higher than normal in cellulose content and much lower in the stiffener chemical called lignin. So, tension wood fibers are weaker than normal and will fold over rather than cut cleanly. Oftentimes with a finish, they will pop up through the finish.
The cure is to first use sharp tools (no carbide) and sharp (= fresh) sandpaper. The sharpness will cut these weak fibers. A second approach is to use something to stiffen them, such as a sanding sealer or glue sizing. As this only stiffens the fiber, which makes it easy to cut, one must be careful not to sand very much, as you can sand through this coating and get down to fresh wood.
I do have an article in my old book "The Wood Doctor's Rx" that I can send if you need more, but I think this above covers it. We do see this fuzz in yellow poplar, red oak, and many other species.
From the original questioner:
Thank you, Gene; as usual your wisdom is most welcome. I ran the gates through the widebelt slowly with #80 and this took care of the problem.
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