How do I go about cutting these burls? Spalted Oak Burl?

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Forum topic by that1wood posted 03-08-2012 04:43 AM 3867 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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60 posts in 2299 days

03-08-2012 04:43 AM

Topic tags/keywords: burl harvesting cutting burl fresh burl oak burl drying burl question tip oak shaping traditional spalted burl

I found two kind of burls on trees within my property. the first are from a weird vine-type tree that grow everywhere around southeastern WI. I saw them getting the mail the other day and cut them off. Onne is sort of a wedge shape about 5”x5”x4” from washed out root ares of the tree, the other is a cluster wart that was growing off the side of a tree measuring a 5” diameter and 3 inches deep. It sort of resembles a brain to me haha.

But those I would use for smaller pieces. I’m more interested in the larger one I found. I believe it is from a White Oak tree. I noticed it around the first crotch in the tree, growing about 8 feet off the ground on the side of the limb like a wart. It looked like a barked up basketball oozing sap and cover in red and orange splotches of powder(I think fungus) that the tree starting making. So I cut it off almost flush with the tree. I know it probably went into the wood further, but I was just so excited to find one and harvest it!

Every burl is different and has its own unique beauty given to it by God. But now that I have cut it I really have no idea what to do with it! I read about either letting it dry for a number of years and then cutting, or cutting it in pieces and waxing them or just turning a bowl out of it, waxing and it will dry eventually. All methods involve waxing exposed grain. But I still wonder what I can do with this particular piece if anyone can shed some more light about cutting it. I mainly make small projects but I want to make larger bowls and platters, small table tops and other various things. I know some of you work with burl you harvest yourselves. If you could give me some advice I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks for looking!

P.S.- The last pic is a close up of the face and I noticed the rings are kind of black. Is this spalted or is it just the minerals and color of the burl?

-- that WOOD be cool..... JL

1 reply so far

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2983 days

#1 posted 03-08-2012 11:23 PM

Ity may be spalting, but oak usually stains more than spalts. It may also be bark pockets, or partially developed bark. Burl is an odd thing, you never know what’s in there you just hope for the best. Too bad you whacked it already, you could have let it get bigger while you decided what to do with it. As far as what to do now, check out some novelty stores and the like to see what other people have done and make something up. Turning is popular, of course, but it sure wastes a lot of wood. I used a piece of cherry burl I had that was similar to yours by cutting it in half, then polished up the surfaces and made a picture on a face as a small art piece. Pen blanks, name plates, inlay material, bobbles for the x-mas tree, small wall art pieces, lots of little things to do. Best of luck!

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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