What is Spalted Beech?
Spalted Beech is not technically a species of Beech or a type of figure, but like figured wood it is highly sought after for the great character it adds to an otherwise ordinary board. Spalting is a beautiful imperfection caused by a fungus in the early stages of decay while in log or tree form. The dark, contrasting lines and variety of colors that add such a unique quality to the slab are signs of the various degrees of decay. If the wood is salvaged early enough and dried properly, the fungus is killed in the kiln drying process and the board should still be stable with minimal punky areas.
When working with wood in the early stages of spalting, it is much like working with regular lumber. Once the wood has started change color and dark lines appear, you will need to be sure to use very sharp tools to try and avoid tearout. If the area is soft or "punky" in the later stages of spalting, it is ideal to stabilize the wood with a resin or epoxy. There are many articles and videos online that can be helpful if you are unfamiliar with these processes and working with spalted lumber.
It can be a little extra work if you choose a spalted slab, but the beauty and uniqueness of these large slabs make the effort well worth it.