Cutting Up Burls

Tim Brian burls

Burls are nature’s creation and Brian is always delighted to get a call from people who have found them on their property and wonder if he could use them in his workshop.  A burl is an irregular growth on the side of a tree which has undergone stress.  The natural appearance is not attractive but the inside of the burl has incredible variations of colour, texture and figuring and huge potential to a woodturner.

These burls were on Oxtongue Lake, not far from our studio.  The larger one is Yellow Birch and the burl encompassed most of the tree.  The second one is Sugar Maple with wavy bands of bark which travel up the side of the burl.

 Oxtongue Burl  Yellow B 3 pieces

Yellow birch platter

Brian spent many minutes walking around the burls, examining the formations and the texture of the wood.  He wanted to maximize the number of pieces that he can harvest from each tree.  Large burls are rare and highly prized by woodturners.  The Yellow Birch burl was sawn into two rounded sections which will be turned into bowls and a few slabs which will become platters.

Maple burl

Maple Burl close








The Sugar Maple bands on the side of the burl were not connected to the burl and the wood was soft underneath so parts were discarded.  Other pieces revealed the distinctive wavy figuring of maple which will make dramatically beautiful bowls and platters.

Maple burls cut up

The burls have been transported back to the workshop where they will be sealed on the edges with wax to allow them to dry slowly without cracking.  It will be a year before Brian will be able turn each piece on the lathe.  Turning burl bowls and platters can take many months or years, but there is great satisfaction in being part of the process from the forest to the finished piece.