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Old 02-18-2014, 06:41 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: Saranac Lake
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cedar carving question

I am new to wood carving, but am trying to make some custom handles for various knives and tools I have. I have had difficulty finding specific answers in my research. I thought since there are a lot of craftsman on the forum maybe someone would be able to advise me.

I am using red cedar, and I would like to get that striking red and white marbled look. Does this appear naturally through the darker and lighter seasonal growth rings, or is that marbling a result of cutting on the edge of where the heartwood meets the sapwood?

The log i am using is about 7 inches in diameter, and looks as though it has been down for only a few months if that makes a difference in coloring.
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:52 PM   #2
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Mr Funk,
I'm in the middle of a canoe build using western red cedar...many of the planks that I started with had a graduated color from red or pink to near white. It's the sapwood vs the heartwood. Not sure why some are pink and some are brown. I know cherry gets darker with age, maybe cedar does the same thing.
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:57 PM   #3
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Spalting may be what you are looking for, it is caused by bacteria or fungus in dead wood and makes black and/or white spots and lines in the wood. Basically the early stages of decay. There are various types of spalting, I guess they are caused by different bacteria or fungi but I don't know. It can be very pretty but if it goes too far the wood is too punky to use for much.
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Old 02-20-2014, 06:15 AM   #4
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thanks, I guess I will need to find some smaller diameter branches for this project if I am to get the sapwood all around the handle. This is what I mean by a "marbled" look, like a steak (not my work, just an example):

My cedar log is more brown than red in the center anyway. I just read somewhere that the red color is a result of some natural chemical in the wood that is effected by the soil quality. This time I will try looking for branches near a marsh and see if the color is more vibrant.
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:46 AM   #5
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Mr. Maximus,

Originally Posted by MaximusFunk24 View Post that marbling a result of cutting on the edge of where the heartwood meets the sapwood?
Yes. However, if you are trying to have the light colored sapwood go entirely around your handles AND have the marbled effect, you are probably better off using branches rather than logs, as you indicated.

Here are some "standard" logs:

Sometimes you can find logs which have "included sapwood". This may also give you the effect you are looking for, at the scale you are working.

If you experiment with different slices, you will definitely arrive at some nice results.
Good luck and have fun.
The fishing was really good for 10,000 years.
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