SEE HOLIDAY SHIPPING CUTOFFS. 20% OFF ALL ITEMS = HOLIDAY2020. Lifetime Warranty, Free USA Shipping.
HOLIDAY SHIP DATES. HOLIDAY2020 = 20% OFF
Your Secure Cart

What is Spalted Wood? Get to Know a Wood Feature, Part 1

In order to craft the best handmade wood iPhone and Pixel cases possible, KerfCase offers a wide variety of wood species, some of which incorporate unique features that are especially prized.  If you're not a woodworker, but you want to learn more about what makes some wood cuts (and some cases) especially beautiful, enjoy our four-part series on unique wood features!

Part 2: Figured Wood | Part 3: Burl Wood | Part 4: Chatoyancy

Spalted Maple Wood iPhone case for iPhone 8 iPhone 7 iPhone 7 Plus iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus

No two pieces of wood are alike.  One of the great joys of working with wood is knowing that no matter if you're carving a Greek god or nailing together a bookshelf, your creation will be 100% unique.  Like snowflakes and fingerprints, the grain pattern that forms in trees never perfectly repeats, so each board will have its own unique appearance.

This uniqueness exists on a spectrum; many cuts of wood look almost alike, the differences only perceptible to a seasoned viewer, or a microscope.  For craftsmen looking for uniformity across a large project, this is a good thing.  But we at KerfCase are specialty woodworkers, looking for the most unique and interesting pieces of wood around to use in our truly one-of-a-kind cases.  So let's take a look at the special things that we look out for in our wood selection, starting with spalting.

What is spalting?

Spalted Walnut Wood iPhone case for iPhone 8 iPhone 7 iPhone 7 Plus iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus

Why does spalted walnut look so different from regular walnut (and why does it cost more?)

Decomposition is a part of life, and often a dirty, stinky, or gross part.  We don't usually associate the act of rotting with anything pleasant, but aside from spoiled milk and bad meat, many of the greatest things in life come from fungus and bacteria breaking down living tissue.  I'm talking about things like cheese, bread, chocolate, and beer, none of which would be possible without the help of a little controlled decomposition.  Spalting is a part of this proud tradition, because wood that is spalted is technically rotting from a fungal infestation.

When certain fungi encounter wood, they slowly infiltrate the wood grain, absorbing nutrients and leaving behind telltale signs.  There are three different types of spalting, each corresponding to a different fungus type or process.

Pigmentation

A fungus spreads through part of the wood, leaving behind a discolored area from reactions between the fungus and the wood.  These shapes are usually amorphous, and because color spots can vary in color and size (and overlap), you can get a lot of unpredictable patterns from this spalting type.

Spalted Beech Wood iPhone case for iPhone 7 iPhone 7 Plus iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus

Our spalted beech case shows off a large pigmented section running down the side.  The Phantom of the Opera would be proud!

White Rot

This process is similar to pigmentation, but in reality the opposite happens.  In this case, the fungus actually eats the part of the wood's cell wall that produces pigment!   The wood cells get "bleached", producing white spots that can interact beautifully with the wood grain, and with other types of spalting.

Spalted Walnut Wood iPhone case for iPhone 8 iPhone 7 iPhone 7 Plus iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus

Our spalted walnut reliably has some good white rot patterns, along with interesting pigmentation.  Email us to see our current stock!

Zone Lines

My favorite of the three, zone lines happen when various fungi enter into a "turf war."  The solid black lines delineate the edges of a fungal territory, and indicate a defensive cellular structure put up to keep out competitors.  Even cooler, these lines may enclose areas with pigmentation or white rot, so you can see exactly how the fungus spread through the wood!

Spalted Maple Wood iPhone case for iPhone 8 iPhone 7 iPhone 7 Plus iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus

We're very proud of our spalted maple supply, which offers truly striking zone line patterns and sometimes enclosed pigmented zones.  Let me know if you'd like to see what your case could look like by viewing our stock!

Tricks of the Spalting Trade

Spalting is highly sought after for its beauty and uniqueness, but working with spalted wood can be tricky.  Like a piece of fruit that's been infested with mold, spalted wood has a weaker structure than a wood that has not been eaten by a fungus, and if you wait too long for a cool pattern, you might end up with a wood that falls apart in your hands.  At KerfCase, we stabilize our spalted wood in a strengthening compound so that you don't have to pick between beautiful wood and sturdy wood!

Like the controlled fermentation involved in brewing beer or kombucha, it's possible to induce spalting in a controlled environment to get your own supply of beautiful wood.  Our spalted maple supplier "seeds" his maple boards with the necessary fungus and gives them the light, humidity, and time (over a year!) to let them work their magic.  We're particularly proud of the cases we make from this species, as a visit to our Instagram will attest.  Our sales reports tell us that you really like them too!

Spalted Maple Wood iPhone case for iPhone 8 iPhone 7 iPhone 7 Plus iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus

Sometimes we get truly unique cuts, like this spalted maple that features beautiful spalting interacting with a knot.  We send these out to lucky customers, but if you contact us, you might find something special and claim it for yourself!

How to Get Your Dream Case

Given how different two spalted cases may end up being, when you order a KerfCase it'll never look exactly like the picture.  Fortunately, it's fun to help pick the one you like the best for your next case!  One of my favorite parts of my job is showing customers their grain options between purchase and carving, so drop me a line or message us on Facebook if you'd like to see our selection and pick the grain pattern (and spalting!) that's perfect for you.  I'd be happy to show you our coolest cuts.

Tune in next week for a primer on our next wood feature, figured wood!

Phil Giammattei likes to wear lots of different hats.  Formerly employed at Apple, Google and Oracle, he loves applying his technical knowledge to making the best possible custom wooden phone cases.  In addition to writing the Kerf Blog, Phil’s duties at KerfCase include customer service, sales, production, shipping and fulfillment, and anywhere else he can be helpful.  Reach out to say hi and find out what choice cuts we have in stock!


TechCrunch logo - review of wooden Kerf CaseGQ logo - review of Kerf CaseElle logo - review of Kerf CaseWSJ logo - review of Kerf Case

We take pride in offering the best customer service possible. Our customers consistently say we have the best wood iPhone cases on the market. Take a look at what some of them have to say:

"You guys did a fantastic job on this case! I will pass along to my high-end phone case friends. Keep up the good work, thanks for the prompt delivery. You guys rock!" -Steve

"The new case arrived today and you are definitely right - it is fantastic! It is just so different! Love it! Will be letting others know where to go when they want a quality, very different cell phone case." -Sherry

"I received my case yesterday. I love it. Generally, less is more for me with my iPhones. The phone is beautiful, I love the form factor and don't go with a heavier, bulkier case. However, yours is not that. Very unique case. I'm a big fan. Well done." -Jim Rome

"This case is a work of art." -Kurt

"I love this case. What separates Kerf cases from everything else on the market is the quality of the product. When you handle it, you feel like you're holding something special." -Brian

"This case checks all my boxes: eco-friedly, handmade, clean design, durable and light-weight." -Alexandra

"The quality of wood and craftsmanship are outstanding." -Webber

"Absolutely gorgeous, unique case like nothing I've owned before." -Debra

"This is the best case I have ever owned. Not only does it protect the phone but it is visually stunning and gets complimented constantly, truly a work of art." -Justin

"The character of the wood is stunning. It's not like any other wood I've ever seen. Each case is a one-of-a-kind, but this one is uniquely impressive in its beauty. So happy with this case! Thanks to Ben for the outstanding customer service with the speedy shipping and detailed emails. I'm a customer for life." -Lori

"The character of the wood is stunning … So happy with this case!" -L.A.W.

"This is an excellent phone case. It grips well on the hand therefore prevents accidental drops." -Jesus

"This spalted black walnut iPhone 6+ case was beyond my expectations. And the expectations were high … this product does not disappoint as the craftsmanship is five-star." -Steve

"I didn't know what to expect, but when I got it in the mail and put it on it was absolutely beautiful. It is a great looking case. I highly recommend." -Vincent

"Absolutely beautiful! A true work of art. Phone fits perfectly. Looks better than any case I've owned." -TM

"I'm extremely pleased with it. It's like having a work of art surrounding my phone." -Lori

"This case is crazy. No one else has this, it's on another level. Im always looking for something to stand out and this case is it." -Marcus

"I just received my new case and can not be more impressed and satisfied with this product. The flamed maple is awesome and the fit on the iPhone 7 is perfect!" -Andy

"I really love your products. They make me hate my phone a little less." -Johan

"Thank you for making awesome things. I love it." -Goran

"I received my case today. The fit is perfect and it is gorgeous!" -Tom

"I received my new phone case, and it is beautiful...a work of art!" -Dan

"I've never liked a case before. I've tried some different rubber and plastic cases and always end up taking it off within a couple days. This case, however, I will never take off. This is by far the best looking and best feeling case I've ever owned. Also loved the packaging touch. Keep up the good work, I will definitely be buying more in the future." - Yasir S

"The world could use more good design and less plastic!" - John C

"I just got my new Kerf case, and it’s beautiful! My company logo on the back came out sweet! And, I can charge the phone through the case on a Qi pad, which makes it even better. You all should be proud of your craftsmanship. " - Leroy N

"I received my Kerf Case this afternoon and I am really pleased with it! I love how it envelopes the phone and has a feel that is easy to hold. The buttons work great and I like that the silence button is recessed, it isn’t likely to be bumped. I really appreciate the job you did on the graphic on the back. Thanks for your work on this!"- Nels K

"This is the first time I will be using an iPhone case - ever!
I did my homework - I looked at many manufacturers online (none of them seemed worthy). This is a huge vote of confidence and testament to what I imagine will be amazing craftsmanship."- Matt K

"I just have received your product. I just couldn't be happier. It is much more than what I expected. There are few alternatives in terms of google Pixel phone case but your creation is much much better choice. Thank you for creating such an excellent product." - Y Ito

"In the end, what swung it for was the fact you were a small local business that sourced within your local community. Even though I live in Glasgow, Scotland, this really was important and I liked the fact your company was proud of your area, the resources it has and your product. The choice of woods was also pretty cool and at one point is was very torn between the walnut and the rosewood. I ended up opting for the walnut - very much looking forward to getting it on my new iPhone X." -Derek S

"I just received my iPhone case today and it's stunning, keep up the good work!" - Andrew D

"I really do appreciate the help that you guys have done, i know i was frustrated at first. But i do really appreciate companies that really help out with their products. means a lot from someone like me who has had multiple things sit broken in my room because companies would not help out." - Chris W

"I left my phone on the vinyl roof of my car (let’s not discuss that) and it finally flew off as I drove and landed on a busy street. When I was finally able to locate and retrieve it, it had been run over by a large truck and dragged more than 300 feet under the tire. When the truck turned, the case, phone, and wood separated and I found them about 20 feet from each other. Remarkably, my iPhone is fine! Also remarkably, so is the spalted maple backing! However, the steel frame, having done its job well, is now bent (but not mangled). I don’t know if any other case made out of any other material would have done as good a job." -Ben W

"Just received my Alloy case for iPhone 7 and I’m very impressed with the quality of the case. I will definitely purchase more products from your company and will recommend Kerf Case to family and friends. Thanks for a great product." - Gohar N

"As a woodworker I really appreciate the unique iPhone cases you craft. This is my second case. I bought the new iPhone 7 plus, so I had to order another one as soon as possible. I can't tell you how many comments I have received, with the main comment "that's so cool" and " really that's all wood? Thanks and keep up the good work." - Clarke

"I’m a woodworking hobbyist and was really impressed with your product! I have told several friends about it already and will be sharing links and pictures with them when it comes in! Thanks for making these." -B

"I received my phone case yesterday morning, and after the first 24 hours with it my first impression is wow! The quality of this case is beyond my expectation. It's so smooth and wonderfully sanded, I can smell the wood and that is one of my favorite parts of it. I love the little attention to detail that most wood phone cases don't have, like wood buttons instead of rubber. Being a man in the military I take extreme pleasure in attention to detail and your product definitely delivered. Thank you so much for not disappointing me! Good luck with your company I'll be rooting for you!" Very Respectfully, Petty Officer 3rd Class Dehart, Nathan D.

"I received my case last week and after seeing how amazingly made it was I had to order one for my wife right away. Thank you for making such and outstanding product!" - Daniel

"The spalted maple iPhone SE case I just received is wonderful!! A true work of art and totally functional. Love it! Thanks so much. Will recommend to everyone and when it's new iPhone time for me it will always be Kerf case time." - Eddie

"You just can't replicate that depth of color and texture with man-made materials. It brings my glass rectangle addiction one step back into the natural world, and I'll take that wherever I can get it." - Stephanie

"Thank you for making such an awesome product both durable and stylish. You have helped in every way I've needed and in an expeditious way....something you can't find in an owner of a business these days. I greatly appreciate everything." - Jake G Hampu

"I just wanted to let you know that I received my case today and it is quite possibly most beautiful iPhone case I've ever seen! I did a lot of research on wood phone cases and settled on Kerf Case because of the quality—I was not disappointed. The care that went into crafting and shipping the case is evident and I couldn't be happier with my purchase. Thanks for creating such a wonderful product!"- Kirstin

"Apologies for the delay in replying, but it was somewhat intentional. I wanted to wait until we received our cases yesterday. I am more than impressed with the craftsmanship that you and your staff put towards your products. The cases are beautiful and well worth what we paid for them. Thank you again. I will have no problems referring friends to KERF, who have as much of an appreciation for natural hand crafted products as I do." - Kyle Elias, BScH, DVM 

"They are going to become my holiday gift this season ....for all my people....Great product. Very original." - Christopher Bardasian

"Now that's customer service. Thanks Ben I appreciate the attention to detail you guys have with your business plan. No questions but I will tell you that you've earned my respect with the speed, efficiency and quality products you're providing with your customers." - Mark Wilson

"Just wanted to reach out and thank you again- I got my cases back this week and they are beautifully repaired (or replaced, I can't even tell)! Please give Cat my thanks as well for her craftsmanship. I was already a big Kerf fan and repeat customer but will definitely keep coming back thanks to your outstanding service and support. You guys rock, and your products are beautiful. Thanks so much." - Courtney Sanford

"Thank you for your direct contact. This morning I picked up the case from the German customs office. And let me tell you this case is amazing! Thank you so much, you guys did a great job." - Stefan

"Well beyond expectations. Craftsmanship is as close to perfection as possible. Customer service is impeccable and prices are lower than competitors who make inferior products." - Robert W 

Read all reviews
© 2020, Kerf Case     163 State Street     Wilmerding, PA 15148     (412) 447-5602
Custom Alloy and Real Wood iPhone Cases, Samsung Galaxy, & Wooden Google Pixel Phone Cases - Handmade in USA