I have a slab of walnut with two live edges. After sanding down the live edges at 150 to remove bark and prep for finishing, I noticed these spots.

sanded live edge

Did I over-sand somehow? Or are these some odd spots in the grain? Should I do anything specific with them or leave them be?


What you're seeing I'm pretty sure is the inside layer of bark, called the "phloem", some of which is still glued (as it were), to the first layer of wood, the first layer of cells of which are called the cambium layer. If you keep sanding, the "rings" will seem to get wider, when in fact you are just abrading the phloem away.

Here's a good discussion of tree parts:


  • You are referring to the lighter, smoother-looking parts as the phloem, correct? So I should continue to sand these spots down until the phloem is gone and the grain appears in these areas?
    – acurcie
    Mar 28 '17 at 13:56
  • No, the lighter part is the wood. Imagine burning through the veneer while sanding (lucky you if you have never experienced that horror). Walnut veneer over maple plywood will show white circles as you sand through the Walnut.
    – Benchwerks
    Mar 28 '17 at 14:28
  • * Dang I'm still learning these forum tools -- i keep posting when I want a new paragraph *. So anyway the phloem is that salt and pepper looking, grainy stuff on the inside of the bark - that stuff all up your sleeves when you were peeling the bark off.
    – Benchwerks
    Mar 28 '17 at 14:31
  • Oh I think I see where the might be some confusion: the live edge is sapwood, which is light, as opposed to the Heartwood, which is the brown you expect. The phloem is also brown, so things might seem backwards.
    – Benchwerks
    Mar 29 '17 at 0:47
  • Ok gotcha. Yeah, I had it backwards. This is my first time working with live edge. I haven't had a chance to sand it down more but hopefully will be able to tonight and see how it turns out. Thanks again!
    – acurcie
    Mar 29 '17 at 16:53

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