In the Shop

Transformation from Burl to Bowl

The greatest pleasure of a woodturner is to see the transformation that occurs as a burl is turned on a lathe to become a bowl.

A burl is a rounded growth on the side of a tree that can be caused by stress, a rock, fungus or insects.  Instead of straight sap-lines and grain that are present in the trunk of the tree, it has uniquely figured grain, natural imperfections and bark inclusions.  This Yellow Birch burl was sawn off the side of a tree at the local lumberyard and instead of being firewood, it has become a beautiful, natural edge bowl.

Brian rough-turned the outside of the bowl on his lathe.  He used a sharp tool, a gouge, to shape the wood as it revolved very quickly on the lathe (up to about 800 RPM).  As he shaped the bottom of the bowl, most of the bark was removed and the fine figuring was revealed.

Brian took the faceplate off the top of the bowl, turned it around and placed a chuck on the bottom. As the wood revolved on the lathe, he formed the bowl with his gouging tool. 

Brian often has a shape in mind as he turns a bowl but his intuitive approach allows him to work with the burl until the final form is revealed.   

After sanding the surface up to 800 grit, many coats of a food-safe oil was applied while the bowl rotated on the lathe.  It was allowed to dry in a drying tent between each coat.


The burl has rich colour and distinctive wavy grain with bark inclusions and an unusual shape. The food-safe finish of this hand-crafted piece is a pleasure to touch.

This unwanted Yellow Birch burl has been transformed into a stunning bowl with the textures and natural beauty of the forest.