A friend has just given me a section of 6" maple sporting a 12-15"
My question is: how should I proceed? With a log, I know enough to
halve it, perhaps cutting out the pith, and coat the end grain. What
do I do with this asymmetrical lumpy thing?
John Wadsworth, in Delhi, NY
Are you a woodturner? If not, find the first woodturner you can see, and
sell it to him! He'll buy it, trust me!
If the burl is well to one side of the log, you can halve the log and remove
the pith just as you do now. Then trim the log so only the burl remains with
a few inches to spare all the way around. Now seal it up as normal.
If the burl encompasses the log or almost does, gut the ends off to keep the
burl and seal the end grain as normal.
The depth of the burl will determine what you can make out of it such as a
vase or a bowl, or maybe even thin boards for boxes and such. Burls make
amazing natural edged bowls or platters in some cases.
"Trees were created out-of-round on purpose to keep
all those pesky little woodturners out of mischief !"
Interested in Woodturning? Check out
Unfortunately, the way to cut for a good bark-up bowl would be to divide the
mass from the normal part of the log, not the mass in half.
Burls are a crapshoot at best. You never know what is (or isn't) inside. I
go for the biggest chunk
first. Like this is the regular side | (Cut here) )) burl.
If you have a solid one, great, else, get the next two largest pieces around
the hole or bark pocket, etc.
It depends. Now...as others have mentioned, this is quite
a find for a woodturner. Burls make really interesting bowls,
although, alas, a lot of it gets turned to shavings in the process.
If your goal is to get as much burl grain out of the piece
as is possible, consider turning it into veneer. A good bandsaw,
and a new, sharp blade, can produce a LOT of square feet of amazingly
patterned wood for inlays, trim, etc.
Because the grain in burl is...well..."chaotic" would be a
flattering term...it will take a bit of work to get it dried
without terminal warping. I suspect that pressing it between
sheets of newsprint and swapping regularly until it stabilizes
would be the best course of action. This is only theory on my part,
though, as I have never TRIED this...I am sure someone out there
has, though, and can add their wisdom to the thread. I am sure,
though that thinner slices will be easier to dry without
As others have said, though...get it sealed as quickly as
possible to slow the loss of water down or it WILL start checking
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