Burl Table

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Project by bobkberg posted 08-11-2014 02:00 AM 1080 views 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A year or two ago, my daughter gave me a slice of burl, since I had said that I wanted a new project. It took a long time to figure out just what to do with it, but I finally settled on a small/medium side table.

The next question was how to build the table. I happened to see some dead vines, and thought that the twisty branches might make a nice set of legs. I couldn’t take those – they were on a fence by the freeway, but eventually I found some nice dry, hard twisted branches.

First thing was to bring them and the burl down to clean, hard wood, so I scraped off all loose bark with a putty knife, and then took everything down with a coarse wire wheel mounted on the drill press.

The tricky part was figuring out how to arrange the legs. Photo #3 shows where I made a cardboard/plywood layout of the intended bottom of the burl and started putting the legs into place. The photo is an earlier one which didn’t work quite right, so I had to cut another hole to move one of the legs over.

Once I had the position right, then I drilled small holes (6” long 1/8” drill bit) through where the dowels to secure them would have to be. Using those holes as a guide, I enlarged the holes on the blind side and glued in 7/16” dowels. That worked for the first two legs, but the third one had to be drilled through from the outside.

Once that was done, I realized that the table was not well enough supported on one side and would easily fall over. So I had to add a fourth leg to stabilize it. More dowels and glue and that was stable.

Now, with four legs, I had to make sure that all the feet, and the tops of the legs which would fasten to the underside of the burl were all flat and level. That’s part of the reason for the 25# bags of buckshot – to hold the feet of the table down so that it would stay put while I touched up (or down).

Once everything was sanded and assembled, the next step was finishing. I wanted the legs to stay looking like old weathered wood, so I experimented with different sealers. The burl is finished with poly – straight. The legs were first sealed with 2 coats of Varathane water-based sanding sealer, and then finished with poly. That way, there was no dramatic color change the way that poly would have done to the old weathered wood.

The only remaining step is to get a glass top, so I’ll be taking the table over to the glass shop to see what they’ve got.


-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

4 comments so far

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 970 days

#1 posted 08-11-2014 12:34 PM

Nice job, looks good.

View MRue's profile


53 posts in 2248 days

#2 posted 08-11-2014 02:49 PM

Nice looking table. Innovative design especially on the legs.

I vote against a glass top. There are many durable clear finishes that will protect it

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 1595 days

#3 posted 08-12-2014 08:59 PM

That’s an beautiful wood project! Great wood and genius support. Well done.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View SundnR's profile


26 posts in 831 days

#4 posted 08-13-2014 05:05 AM

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