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Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree? (Read 734 times)
 
Sal McAuley
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Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree?
Dec 28th, 2016 at 6:09pm
 
Looking for some advice on how to approach this. My nephew runs a tree company and he brought me a cherry and silver maple burl for Christmas. They're about a foot and a half round by a foot tall.

Not sure how to tackle this to cut slices from them. Should I cut them across the burl meaning with the flat part laying down and slice down into them or should I lay them on the side and cut them that way? Like taking layers off the top and working down?

He couldn't offer advice since he just cuts them up. He's not familiar with wood turning and cutting with the grain on a lathe. Not sure how the grain would be and don't want to screw these up.

Thanks for any tips!
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Don Stephan
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Re: Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree?
Reply #1 - Dec 28th, 2016 at 8:23pm
 
Do the burls extend all the way around the section of log, or are they just on one side.  Second, what would you like to make from the burl wood?

I've only had one burl to work with, several years ago.  My understanding is that the burl figure does not extend into the section of log.  Imagine if you will a ball of pie dough that gets thrown onto the side of a log, deforms, and sticks.  There would not be bark between the log and burl as in this analogy, but the burl figure would only be in the deformed pie dough, if that makes any sense.  Maybe on a burl that grew for several decades some of the burl figure extends into the log?

There can be voids in burls.  Seems like I've seen pictures here of turned bowl burls that were wrapped in shrink wrap after the outside was turned and the tenon grabbed in a 4 jaw chuck, because of voids.
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Sal McAuley
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Re: Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree?
Reply #2 - Dec 29th, 2016 at 7:44am
 
Not sure yet what I want to make. They are cut off the tree I'll try to snap a photo to post.
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Ron Sardo
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Re: Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree?
Reply #3 - Dec 29th, 2016 at 7:52am
 
First off get then in plastic so they don't crack if they haven't already.

Without seeing them its hard to give advice, a picture would help.

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Re: Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree?
Reply #4 - Dec 29th, 2016 at 12:10pm
 
Agree with Ron...prep them first.  Next...consider simply putting them on a shelf until 'that' idea comes to mind.  Can't tell you how many times I've anxiously begun turning a neat piece of wood only to later realize I 'should have, would have could have' done something really special with it.  But then again, impatience is something I struggle with.
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Re: Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree?
Reply #5 - Dec 29th, 2016 at 12:16pm
 
Ron Sardo wrote on Dec 29th, 2016 at 7:52am:
Without seeing them its hard to give advice, a picture would help

+1

Although you said it was burl (inconsistent grain direction) this may help you to determine what shape or style you want.
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Ron Sardo
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Re: Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree?
Reply #6 - Dec 29th, 2016 at 2:24pm
 
Also, you need to sneak up from behind so they don't see you coming. Some of those beasts can be gnarly.
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Sal McAuley
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Re: Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree?
Reply #7 - Dec 29th, 2016 at 8:24pm
 
Thanks guys haven't had Time to snap a pic. When prep is mentioned with plastic wrap? What does that do? Kinda novice here? Does it retain the moisture so it doesn't dry out? I cut some nice red cedar this past spring and sure enough they cracked. Assuming from drying out.... yikes
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Sal McAuley
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Re: Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree?
Reply #8 - Dec 30th, 2016 at 4:27am
 
I did some reading up and I get it on the plastic wrap! I should have time to snap some pics tonight of the two burls.

I have a mini lathe with capability of turning up to 8" round so again not sure what I'll make with these. Possibly some small bowls and such.

I've been making mini bird house ornaments so maybe a few of those.
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John Cepko
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Re: Best way to approach burls fresh off the tree?
Reply #9 - Feb 13th, 2017 at 5:48pm
 
I would paint the cut, raw wood areas with a product called Anchorseal, or lacking that, a couple of coats of cheap latex paint.
You, ideally, want to regulate the drying process, slow it down some.
Most of the moisture escapes wood through the end grain...But with a Burl, end grain could be anywhere, or everywhere, so it is best to paint anywhere the wood was cut.
Keep the paint off the bark as much as you can because you might 'use' the bark as a feature.
Store the burl out of the sun, and somewhere with a cool, stable environment until you get around to it.

I would cut chunks off in a size I could handle on the lathe, and try to get as much out of it as I could...down to pen blanks.
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