Does burl wood have "grain"?

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Forum topic by Ripthorn posted 02-12-2014 08:13 PM 894 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1402 posts in 2402 days

02-12-2014 08:13 PM

I got a lovely piece of walnut burl from my brother, and I would like to try turning some stuff out of it. However, I was wondering if burl has grain like we think of it in regular lumber. I know that the burl is a growth deformation, so it doesn’t seem to me like it would have a preferred working direction like normal lumber. However, I don’t wish to find out the hard way that I was wrong. So, does burl have grain (or in other words, a preferred working direction)?

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

9 replies so far

View JayT's profile


4670 posts in 1629 days

#1 posted 02-12-2014 08:21 PM

No preferred working direction, the wood fibers swirl, twist, turn and go in all kinds of crazy directions. That is what makes the beautiful patterns, but can also be a challenge to work. Sharp tools, light passes and scraping instead of planing all help to keep the wood intact. (But you still might have some tearout)

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1294 posts in 1366 days

#2 posted 02-12-2014 08:26 PM

it does have a direction. Every where.

View TerryDowning's profile


1052 posts in 1535 days

#3 posted 02-12-2014 08:55 PM

+1 to what JayT said

Burls are great for turning, just take your time.

-- - Terry

View mahdee's profile


3454 posts in 1185 days

#4 posted 02-12-2014 09:00 PM

It kooks like any large city traffic at 4:30 P.M.


View WDHLT15's profile


1562 posts in 1893 days

#5 posted 02-12-2014 09:49 PM

I has anti-gain!

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

View bondogaposis's profile


3969 posts in 1769 days

#6 posted 02-12-2014 10:07 PM

Burl is mostly end grain that swirls in every direction, there is really no way to define it or orient it, turning it can be a challenge and it can blow apart on you, but when it goes right you can have some beautiful stuff come out of it. Keep some super glue handy.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 2522 days

#7 posted 02-13-2014 03:40 AM

Burl is the main reason I have a drum sander for thickness sanding. No way my old DeWalt planer gets near any burl.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View Ripthorn's profile


1402 posts in 2402 days

#8 posted 02-13-2014 01:52 PM

You have all confirmed what I suspected. I just didn’t want to chunk it up and start turning, only to find I did the wrong way ‘round. Once the shop is more than just boxes and stuff laying everywhere, I’ll give it a shot. May be a couple weeks, as we just moved in to the new house and shop organization is last on my wife’s list of things for me to do :)

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View rustfever's profile


716 posts in 2728 days

#9 posted 02-13-2014 02:01 PM

Second the comment of Bondo..
Plan on stopping frequently and checking the wood. Use CA [super glue] to keep it from becoming a missile flying thru the shop.
It is so pretty when done. Good luck.

-- Rustfever, Central California

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