Large Oak Tree with Burl - Best way to cut it.

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Forum topic by MikeyCZ posted 08-25-2015 01:55 PM 1632 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MikeyCZ's profile


11 posts in 825 days

08-25-2015 01:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak burl stump flattening jig question advice


A buddy of mine found a very large stump that washed down the river with all of the heavy rains Texas had a few months back and asked me to take a look to see if there was anything we could do with it. It’s about the size of a truck (see pics) and took us almost 4 hrs to drag out of the now dry river bed. It sounds solid when you bang on it and doesn’t appear to be rotten. We drug it 100 ft or so out of the river bed, rehooking about 30 times to different parts of the tree to drag it through the trees and nothing snapped or broke off. I don’t have any experience working with Burled wood but I like to take every opportunity to learn a new skill and this looks like an awesome piece to start with. We like to at least try to do everything ourselves rather than bring it to somebody that knows what to do with it (I know, that would make too much sense but we learn through experience). My questions are:

1. Whats the best way to cut this up? Even cutting from both sides my little chainsaw wouldn’t come close to reaching the center. I can rent a large chainsaw and I have another buddy that owns a sawmill.

2. Do I try to cut the larger burls off first?

3. Plain saw? Quarter saw? Does the type of cut matter that much with burl?

4. Instead of taking it to the mill, can I just cut slabs perpendicular to the line of the trunk and make jig to flatten the slabs with a router?

Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.


10 replies so far

View Julian's profile


1010 posts in 2112 days

#1 posted 08-25-2015 02:10 PM

I have no idea how to tackle this monster but take photos and please post. I think we all would be curious to see how you do this.

-- Julian

View FellingStudio's profile


93 posts in 1104 days

#2 posted 08-25-2015 02:35 PM

Hopefully, you can get one of the board sawyers to put their two cents in.

As for my two bits …

Definitely cut the burls off before sawing.

Flitch cut through the crotch. (Flitch cutting is just taking sequential slabs off of the log.) Cut at least 10/4 so that you have some nice table tops taken out. You can cut thinner 4/4 near the edges of the log because that lumber won’t be wide enough for table material anyway.

You can probably expect to lose a blade or two due to rock inclusions.

Seal the ends of the cut lumber and air dry (or build yourself a kiln, but you don’t really want to be learning how to dry wood with lumber of the value that you are going to get out of that log).

Speaking of value, slabs of that size with the amount of figure that you are going to find in that crotch, and from those burls should fetch a pretty penny.

-- Jesse Felling -

View Nubsnstubs's profile


811 posts in 1152 days

#3 posted 08-25-2015 02:49 PM

Looks like you’ve got a bunch of turning blanks there. Good find and also, kudos for cleaning out the wash or river. You just stopped a dam from being created by junk in the washbed or river. . At least, that’s the excuse I’d give any law enforcement who might happen by. hehehe …...... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View MikeyCZ's profile


11 posts in 825 days

#4 posted 08-25-2015 03:27 PM

Julian – I’ll definitely take more pics and update. I’ve videoed the process of removal as much as I could and it was hilarious. To bad I can’t upload a video to this site

Felling Studio – Thanks for the detailed info! Thats exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. What do you recommend to use to seal the ends? Also, do you think it would be a better idea to try to sell this instead of trying to learn a new skill on such a nice piece? I mainly work with straight rough cut lumber to make things such as tables, doors, desks, boxes, etc. Like I said before, I’ve never worked with burled wood. I’ve had experience drying straight lumber and some live edge slabs from the sawmill but don’t know if you would treat a round slab the same way. I don’t have a lathe to turn bowls or make pens so I’m thinking it might be a better option to sell it to someone who could make something better than I ever could with it and make a profit to boot. Who or where do you go to sell something like this?

Jerry – We are waaaay out in the country and on private property. Not that many cops patrolling out here but if one happened to drive through all of the pastures and fields to find us, its a good bet we know him or her and they’d be fine with it. Small town living at its finest!

View Planeman40's profile


788 posts in 2182 days

#5 posted 08-25-2015 05:22 PM

You can seal the ends with almost any old paint. Just slap some on the end grain to keep the ends from drying out faster then the rest and inducing splitting. I have even used melted wax. The burls and very swirled grains of other parts of the cut wood would have end grain showing on all cuts. Wherever you cut the burls, paint the cuts. And wherever any end grain is showing in any other cuts, seal that end gain with paint. Just the end grain, nowhere else.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View MikeyCZ's profile


11 posts in 825 days

#6 posted 08-25-2015 06:39 PM

Thanks Planeman.

View RichCMD's profile


279 posts in 1363 days

#7 posted 08-25-2015 09:24 PM

Many wood turners use a product made just for sealing green wood called Anchorseal Green Wood Sealer.

-- Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass. Ralph Waldo Emerson

View FellingStudio's profile


93 posts in 1104 days

#8 posted 08-26-2015 03:17 PM

Anchorseal is probably the best stuff to use followed by a decent exterior oil paint. And, like has already been mentioned, with burls, there is end grain exposed everywhere, so it is best to paint any and all cuts on the burls that you remove.

If you cut it like I outlined above, you will end up with a number of slabs of wood that will be excellent for dining/conference sized tables. Depending on your own personal needs, you can keep a few and sell the rest, or keep them all and sell finished pieces. (For reference, in my neck of the woods I would expect to pay at least $1000 for such a slab, maybe as much as $2-3K depending on figure. Walnut would go for more. That’s for the rough cut, dry slab.)

Burls are generally most sought after by wood turners. Considering that you don’t have a lathe, again you could consider selling them. The other common way to treat burls is to slice them into veneers. This not only maximizes the usage of that pretty wood, but makes it a bit easier to deal with the checking and such that you get when you dry wood with that large amount of end grain. The good news here is that you don’t have to be in a rush to do anything with the wood. Seal it up good, and don’t store it directly on the ground or indoors, and it will be fine for years.

As for where to go to sell the rough cut lumber and/or burls, assuming that you can saw and dry the wood correctly, craigslist is a great option, and will probably fetch you the best price. Otherwise, I imagine that the only other way to sell the wood is to bring it to a mill or possibly a hardwood dealer, and try to work something out with them. You won’t necessarily get as good of a price because those guys need to make a buck too, but you will get rid of it all at once. And, of course, if you hold onto the wood and make it into furniture, that’s another ballgame altogether as to where to sell.

-- Jesse Felling -

View MikeyCZ's profile


11 posts in 825 days

#9 posted 08-26-2015 05:17 PM

Wow. I appreciate all the great advice FellingStudio. I’ll pick up some anchorseal and give it a try. I’ll probably keep what I can and make a few pieces and see what I can do about selling the rest. Once again, I really appreciate all the great info from everyone.

View bhacksaw's profile


160 posts in 1246 days

#10 posted 08-26-2015 05:58 PM

It might be worth it to see what a large mill would charge you for making 10/4 slabs out of this. Based on my recent shopping for an 8’x30” slab, you could easily get multiple thousands per slab. Of course, you’d have to account for transportation, storage and eventual shipping.

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