How to Turn Burl Woods Eye-Catching Swirls into Something of a Masterpiece

How to Turn Burl Woods Eye-Catching Swirls into Something of a Masterpiece

26th Jan 2021

burl wood

The tight, swirling, knotted effect of burl wood is stunning when finished to a high standard. Burls can form on any tree, but some species like maple and walnut are more susceptible to fungal infections, making them more likely to produce them.

What is burl wood? Plus, what do you do with it?

Stick around to find out more about burl and how to turn it into beautiful works of art that will impress even the most critical of woodworking enthusiasts.

What is Burl Wood?

Burls are formed early in a tree's life, in its root system. These growths develop into circular protrusions on the trunk or base of a tree born of disease, insect infestation, or injury.

The largest burl recorded was measured at 8 meters in diameter. They can entirely encircle the trunk or remain in one spot as the tree grows.

They are almost always covered by the tree's bark, making it ugly on the outside, but inside is a different story. Their distorted and swirled grain creates some truly unique shapes and patterns that will add depth and character to any woodworking project.

Working with Burl

There are so many wonderfully rare and eye-catching projects that burl wood can be used to create. These don't have to be large furniture pieces either. Boxes and bowls made with burl are fun to produce and make stunning ornamental pieces.

Increasing popularity has seen burl wood being used in more contemporary furniture, not only for its unusual grain patterns but also because each piece of burl is unique.

One such piece of furniture which has become incredibly popular is a burl wood coffee table. Modern decor can look a little sterile at times, so adding a burl wood table can bring warm tones and natural shapes to a room.

The swirling grain patterns burl offers beautiful configurations but take care when cutting burls to size. Your cutting direction will determine the shapes and swirling patterns of the burl.

These swirling patterns, made by the bubbling and twisting grains and knots over time, are what makes burl so striking. So whenever you are building or turning burl pieces, be sure to make them the focal point of your work.

Finishing Burl

When applying the finishing touches to a piece of burl, it is critical to bring out the piece's definition. The more definition you can bring out, the better it will look.

Start sanding with low-grade sandpaper, P40-P80, and work your way up to P300 before applying protective oil or wax. Then apply your finish, let it dry, sand down with a higher grade, and repeat until it is smooth and defined. You can use higher grades for polishing too.

Finish with Tung oil for a deep and protective cover. Apply a few coats of oil with light sanding in between to ensure a smooth and resistant finish.

Get Started on Your Burl Project

No matter if you use it for furniture, sculpture, or beyond, if you treat it right, burl wood is sure to produce an eye-catching finish.

Whether you are looking for blocks, sheets, or pen blanks, we have many burl wood types for sale in our online store. Just get in touch and start your next project with burl wood!

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.