Unpleasant Odor in Silver Maple

      A perfect description of rotten, stinky, bacterially infected wood. January 11, 2007

Question
I salvage what good lumber I can from silver maple that is plagued with some kind of heartwood rot in my area. Some of the wood I cut stinks. I bring it inside from the air drying shed and it smells up the basement. I have noticed doing oven tests for moisture content that the smell will bake out. It's been air drying for about 18 months and varies from 4/4 to 12/4 (it was as much as 20/4, but I had to remove a lot of checking to clean up the billets I plan on resawing). What I have looks great, with some nice figure and color, but some of it just smells horrible, especially if there is some burl wood involved. What do you think I am dealing with and how can I save my wood?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
You have bacterially infected wood. You have described it perfectly. The odor will return in dried lumber if exposed to high RH. Search the archives for more info.



From the original questioner:
Thank you for identifying the problem. Articles archived about wind shake, wet pockets and unpleasant odors apply to my circumstance. I get the point that the structural qualities are destroyed from bacteria. After I plane out an occasional twist or warp and remove the checking, I find that the wood is really quite beautiful and has a very warm and mellow tone when used for making a flat top banjo; it seems quite strong for my purposes. Some of this maple has been air drying for 30 years. I want to store it stickered in an area that is kept 25 degrees above normal room temperature, then bring it out to acclimate a few months before I use it. Now that I am aware of the shake problem, I'll do my part trimming out the wet pockets, but can a local kiln dryer condition my wood and significantly reduce the remaining odors so I can start acclimating it in my shop at 50% RH?

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