Sawing Burl for Veneer?

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Forum topic by JuniorJoiner posted 08-20-2012 10:12 PM 2247 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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486 posts in 3439 days

08-20-2012 10:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question milling veneering

My Uncle just brought me a birch burl from his woodlot. He says there are many large ones I can have if I want to go collect them. They are just too big for one man to handle alone.
when he first mentioned he had Burls, I expected them to be too small to use in furniture. now that i have “One of the smaller ones” i expect I will be sawing them for shopsawn veneer with my bandsaw.

My question is For anyone with experience at sawing burl for veneer.
What is the preferred method of preparing these burls, and sawing them?

Should I de-bark the burl right away?
how long should I leave it dry?
Any special insight on the process will be helpful.

And for all the woodturners who will ask, the answer is no.

Best Regards

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

8 replies so far

View Raymond Thomas's profile

Raymond Thomas

189 posts in 2217 days

#1 posted 08-20-2012 11:55 PM

I can’t answer your questions but the first thing I would do is take a big truck and a trailer and GO GET MORE…

-- Raymond, Charlotte, NC -------- Demonstrate the difference!

View WDHLT15's profile


1743 posts in 2475 days

#2 posted 08-21-2012 02:10 AM

I have never sawn any, but my experience with other wood is that it is best to saw it green down to the final rough dimensions that you desire. The more it dries, as thick as it is, the more that it is likely to degrade, split, crack, and check.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2172 days

#3 posted 08-21-2012 02:45 PM

What will you use that for?

-- "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 EPJartisan's profile


1118 posts in 3124 days

#4 posted 08-21-2012 02:54 PM

I cut most of my burls in half and seal with wax.. especially dogwood and other soft trees. I don’t remove the bark unless it is a maple, which to me, the cambium layer can harden become difficult. After a few months of drying… I slice burls into usable pieces… I am unsure about veneer specifically. I have read that green wood slices better for veneering machines.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2957 days

#5 posted 08-21-2012 03:42 PM

Assuming you are going to laminate them to a piece of hard board, I would recommend slicing it at about 1/4”-3/8” thicknesses and letting them dry naturally. Putting “stickers” and weighting them down will tend to leave sticker staining on the wood, but you could give it a try if you deem it worthy. Burl dries as it does, but generally leaves a very uneven surface due to the varying thicknesses of the differing grains. Slicing them thick will allow a person to sand them down on one side, then laminate; once the glue is dry, you could then sand the other side flat and to your desired end thickness. The veneer people I have talked to all use 1/8” as a standard end thickness.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View JuniorJoiner's profile


486 posts in 3439 days

#6 posted 08-24-2012 07:46 PM

just to update anyone interested. when i took the bark off and inspected this burl. it is a horsetail burl, just swirling grain. no real eyes or veneer worthy figure. so i am going to put it for sale locally , see if any woodturners want it.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Barbara Gill's profile

Barbara Gill

153 posts in 2659 days

#7 posted 08-25-2012 08:55 PM

Many years ago I tries sawing thin pieces of burl for veneer. I ended up with “potato chips”. To get it to dry flat. You would at least need to make a press which could be tightened as the wood dries.

-- Barbara

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3892 days

#8 posted 08-25-2012 11:56 PM

very slippery slope.

I would slice it approx 1/8” or 3/32” thick while the log is wet………anything thicker is a waste of wood and becomes lumber as opposed to veneer ?…….a whole new kettle of fish

put them in a press in sequence, bookmatched but very little pressure…..just enough to keep it somewhat flat. Let dry at least a year. You can sticker the veneer but use something like plastic or non organic type material..You want the moisture that is trapped in the cell structure to be gone,

working with veneers, the highly figured flitches are always brittle and look like potato chips so often it is necessary to wet them or steam them to avoid a gazillion pieces. ……they become extremely brittle but not to worry as adding steam/water will have little consequence as this wont get into the inside of the cell structure… “free water” and evaporates quickly.

Note……… matching veneers often requires a guillotine of sorts, and a stitcher and and and and. It is no wonder that most high end (not all ) send the veneers out to specialty companies that only stitch and lay up the veneers on substrates as per request.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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