Burl wood is common in many wood species around the world. Although there are differing opinions on how burls form, the general consensus is that all are stunning. To better understand why maybe we need to understand what burl wood is and its uses. Burl wood furniture and turned wood bowls are the most common uses for burl wood. It is also used for trim and steering wheels in cars, pens, knives and more. Although it is found in many types of wood, burl wood is not common in the open wood market. Redwood burl, bigleaf maple burl, and claro walnut burl are all highly sought after, but amboyna burl is one of the most expensive and rare. We believe the best quality burl wood is harvested in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.
What is Burl wood?
A burl is a type of abnormal or deformed growth pattern that alters the wood grain of a tree. There are many theories as to what causes these unusual grain patterns to form. Burls are commonly seen as round outgrowths on branches or tree trunks. It is believed that they are caused by stress such as a viral infection, fungus or even a man-made or natural injury to the tree. In some species such as the coastal redwood, burls can occur as large as 26 feet in diameter. They can encircle an entire tree, and in moist conditions, new trees can grow from them. Most burls grow in the root system and are all covered with bark even underground. It is believed that mold and insect infestations are the most common cause. No matter the cause, burl wood is stunning and highly sought after.
Redwood Burl Wood
The largest burl on record occurred in a coastal redwood tree and was a massive 26 feet. These giants are the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family. There are three related subfamilies of redwoods, two located in the USA and one native to China. The tallest tree in the world is a member of the species Sequoia sempervirens, the coast redwood, and the world’s largest tree is a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron gigantea). These giant trees grow in the temperate rainforests along the coast of northern California. The moist climate of this rainforest 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. We harvest old growth redwood logs and stumps 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, especially the famous birdseye maple which comes from the sugar maple. Bigleaf maple burl is the most highly sought after for its bubbly wood grain pattern. These trees can grow up to 160′ tall and are native to the Pacific Northwest, found mostly near the Pacific coast. This wood is commonly highly figured and used for wood furniture, piano frames and turned wooden bowls. It is also used in gunstocks, guitars, and other stringed instruments. The lumber itself is moderately hard with a light reddish brown color tone. Maple wood is highly sought after, but the highly figured burl wood is especially prized by woodworkers. Featured above is an 84″ by 64″ big leaf maple burl built into a live edge table. These burls feature a pin cushion live edge.
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 species are found in Northern California and the wood is known for being highly figured. It is also used as the rootstock in English walnut orchards. These trees typically only grow to 30 to 60 feet tall. It is an interesting tree as the entire tree is figured with exotic wood grain patterns. Walnut burls are typically found in the root and tree base and can have highlight colors of rich brown, red, gray, black and every shade in between. You may also find marbling, curl, and fiddle back wood grain patterns in this exotic wood.
Ethically Sourced Burl Wood
Because burl wood is so highly desired by furniture makers and DIY woodworkers, poaching is a big problem. Poaching of the burls on the giant redwoods and other trees in western National Parks damages or kills the tree. Because of the damage, these thieves can cause, we always suggest only buying from ethical wood suppliers and asking about the source of the wood.
Burl Wood Furniture
It is important to use dry wood for yourIt is important to use dry wood for your burl wood furniture project. However, we do not suggest kiln drying if you desire a high-quality wood grain pattern. All the slabs used in our custom burl wood furniture are air dried for several years to prevent cracking and warping in the finished piece. We work with DIY craftsmen, professional furniture makers, and woodturners to design custom burl wood furniture using high quality, ethically sourced wood slabs. Whether you’re looking for finished rustic wood furniture or materials for your next DIY project, we look forward to working with you to design your custom burl furniture project.