George Vondriska

Optimizing a Burl Log

George Vondriska
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Duration:   20  mins

To a woodworker, finding a burl log is like finding a buried treasure. It is highly valuable and a one of a kind raw material. A highly figured burl can be used for so many projects, from turning a bowl or a pen, building small accessories, or slicing veneer that can be used for high end furniture projects. While the possibilities are endless, the decisions that you make before cutting into a burl log can be daunting because once you have cut it up there is no going back to the whole log to do it differently.

With that in mind, George and his friend Charlie share some strategies for getting the most from this valuable resource:

Know what you want. Every woodworker has their favorite projects, so it’s ok to go into the burl slicing process with an ideal outcome in mind. It’s best to remain flexible, however, because if you can’t get your perfect pieces from the burl log, it might be better to go a different direction and optimize for overall yield.

Watch for rot. Look carefully for signs that the burl might be rotted in certain areas. Cut around those spots as much as possible, or at least try to take those areas into consideration so that you are not surprised to learn that a rotting area renders a slab unusable.

Learn everything that you can from the outside. Learn to read the bark and watch for patterns on the outside of the burl that might indicated an area of heavy figure. Some burls have more figure than others, and most large burls will have some areas within the burl that have a heavier concentration of figure.

And after you slice up your burl, be sure to follow proper guidelines for drying wood so that you protect the burl from cracking and distortion.

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