Technically, burl wood is a defect on the trunk of a tree.
Yes, these knotty pieces appear when bacteria disrupt the plant's growth process, causing an offshoot to grow away from the trunk's perfectly grooved grains. While people may like the latter for, say, planks in a hardwood floor, burl wood is en vogue these days — perhaps even more so than its pristine counterpart.
After all, burl wood makes an eye-catching focal point for artwork, coffee tables, end tables, and more. To get to that point, though, you need to know how to cut and preserve burl wood.
Here is what you need to know.
1. Skip Living Trees
You should never cut burl wood from a living tree. Excising a bit of its trunk can kill the entire plant. No matter how beautiful a burl you have found, you need to skip it if the tree's still alive.
Instead, scope out downed trees — they will have plenty of knots and imperfections for you to find, too. You will not have to worry about causing damage since the tree is chopped down already.
Call local arborists if you need help finding trees to use. They will be able to point you to areas where trees have recently been cut.
2. Cut Out the Burl
Once you have a tree and have pinpointed a burl, it is time to make your slice.
You will cut burl wood with two slices: one a few inches above the knot and one a few inches below it. Give yourself plenty of wiggle room, so you do not cut away any of the wood you want. Plus, having more wood around the burl will slow the drying process.
3. Preserve the Burl 'Til It's Time to Create With It
You do not want your burl to dry out before you can use it. So, store it properly until creativity strikes.
Brush the outside edges with latex paint and store the wood outdoors — but out of direct sunlight. When it is time to helm your burl wood project , you will want to dry out the trunk.
4. Dry the Burl Wood
You want to avoid drying out your burl — until it is time to create something new with it, anyway. So, when you know what you want to make out of your burl, you will want to air out your trunk piece, so it is ready for its new life in your home.
To make this happen as quickly as possible, cut your burl into a rough version of the shape you envision for it. Give yourself a quarter-inch of additional length when you chop your slabs — they can shrink up as they dry, and you do not want to lose any surface area of your beautiful burl.
Make Imperfections Into Art
Burlwood teaches us that beauty is in the imperfections. When you cut, preserve and create with your burl, you will see that for yourself.
If you cannot find a downed tree with a burl to give you, we are here to help. Click here to see our selection of walnut burls or maple burls and start creating ASAP.
Global Wood Source is a family-owned and operated lumber yard and mill specializing in exotic woods from around the world and rare domestics. We personally acquire and inspect each piece of log and timber obtained from forests and jungles worldwide.