Burl wood is common in many wood species around the world. Although there are differing opinions how they form the general consensus is all are stunning. To better understand why maybe we need to understand what burl wood is and its uses. Although burl wood furniture and turned wood bowls are the most common there are other uses, such as trim and steering wheels in car, pens, knives and more. Although burl wood is common in many wood species it is not that common in the open wood market. Dimensional and none figured lumber is the most common. With species like Redwood burl, Bigleaf maple burl, and Claro walnut burl being highly sought after but Amboyna burl is one of the most expensive. Although, we believe the best quality burl wood is harvested in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.
Live Edge Burl wood
As was mention earlier burl wood is common in many wood species, but what are the causes? The theories are almost endless but it is simply an abnormal or deformed wood grain growth pattern. These are commonly seen as round outgrowths on branches or tree trunks. It is believed that a burl is caused by stress such as a viral or fungus or even an injury whether man-made or environmental. In some species such as the coastal redwood, the burls have been found as large as 26′. These can encircle an entire tree and in moist conditions, these burls can grow trees. Also, it is interesting that most burls grow in the root systems. But according to Wikipedia, these are all covered with bark even underground. It is also, believed that mold and insect infestations are the most common cause. No matter the cause it is stunning and highly sought.
Redwood Burl Wood
It is interesting that the largest burl occurred in a coastal redwood tree and was a massive 26 feet. These massive giants are the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family. There are three subfamilies of redwoods two located in the USA and one in China. These are also the largest trees in the world. The redwood national forest is also a temperate rainforest located in the United States, along with the coast of northern California. With the moist climate of this rainforest, it is the perfect environment for burl wood to grow. Redwood burl is used by custom furniture makers and Diy craftsman alike. Although it is known as a softwood the burl can be quite dense. The old growth trees are harvested from the forest floor giving them a new life as custom wood furniture, turned bowls and other wood products.
Big Leaf Maple Burl Wood
Maple burl is highly sought after with the famous birdseye maple which is from the sugar maple. But the Bigleaf maple burl is the most highly sought after with it bubbly wood grain pattern. These trees can grow up to 160′ tall and are native to the Pacific Northwest but mostly near the Pacific coast. This wood is commonly highly figured and desired for custom wood furniture, piano frame and turned wooden bowls. It is also used in gunstocks, guitars, and other stringed interments. The lumber itself is moderately hard with a light reddish brown color tone. Although the wood is desired the highly figured burl wood is even more and the price is reflected. Featured above is an 84″ by 64″ big leaf maple burl built into a live edge table. These burls feature a needle pin cushion live edge and will do damage to your skin.
Claro Walnut burl wood
Hinds black walnut and California walnut are species of black walnut trees commonly called Claro Walnut by woodworkers and lumber industry. These are found in Northern Califonia and the wood is known for being highly figured. It is also the used as the rootstock in English walnut orchards. These trees typically only grow to 30′ to 60′ tall. It is an interesting tree as the entire tree is figured with exotic wood grain patterns. These burls are typically found in the root and tree base and highlight colors of rich brown, red, gray, black and every color tone in between. You may also find marbling, curl, fiddle back and burl wood grain patterns in this exotic wood. Also as with the Maple, the live edge has a needle pin style on the live edge wood slabs.
Burl Wood Furniture
Burl wood furniture is one of the most common uses but woodturners also seek out and use it in their unique bowls, platers, and pens. It is also used as accents in high-end cars as trim and steering wheels. Because burl wood is so highly desired by furniture makers and Diy woodworkers poaching is a problem. The poaching of the burls on the giant redwoods and other trees in western National Parks damages or kills the tree. Because these thieves are out there we always suggest only buying from ethical wood suppliers. We also suggest asking where the wood was sourced.
Also one last note, it is important to use dry wood for your burl wood furniture project and kiln drying is not suggested if you desire high-quality wood grain pattern. We look forward to working with you whether it a Diy project or a professional furniture maker or woodturner.