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Wild Willy
 

Episode #14.... Burls

Willy's Place » The Further Misadventures of Wild Willy
by Wild Willy on May 30, 2004 07:27 PM
The further misadventures of Wild Willy, the Hillbilly Gardener

Episode #14... Just Burls

I consider burls to be some of Mother Nature's finest works of art...
They are often cut up and used to create beautiful tables, clocks and veneer for furniture. Because of their value, thieves will sometimes cut them from living trees, which of course kills the tree.
(I lost a hundred year old Maple that way.... grrrrrr!!!)

Around here, they are just collected from dead stumps and fallen trees, and used as decorations for my gardens!

burl used as yard art

burl used as yard art

burl used as yard art

burl used as yard art

burl used as yard art

burl used as yard art

burl used as yard art

by afgreyparrot on May 30, 2004 07:35 PM
Wow! I have 70 acres, mostly woods on the other side of town. Need to go out there and find some of these!

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Buckle up! It makes it harder for the aliens to suck you out of your car!
by Wild Willy on May 30, 2004 08:14 PM
My favorite burl was excavated from the roots of an ancient growth stump (with the help of my piggies). I initially saw only the knob that is on the very top but soon found out that there was much more to it. Every day I threw a scoop of corn next to the knob and let the pigs dig. After a few weeks, the burl was mine!

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It now stands beneath the arbor in my "Dream Garden".
It's over three feet tall and is about two feet in diameter.

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by catlover on May 30, 2004 08:59 PM
These burls are just amazing! I keep thinking back...and I don't ever recall seeing one before...guess I never did or never realized what I was looking at. All I have to say is WOW...absolutely awesome. Have learned a lot today!

Well that was a great idea letting the pigs do all the work. [Big Grin]

Don't think me stoopid...but what is the difference between a burl and a knot? I now know the burl is either in the root area or attached to the tree and the knot is within the tree itself....but what causes a knot and if you cut open one of those burls wouldn't it have the same look as a knot?? [dunno]

My grandfather had several walnut clocks he made and asked me which one I wanted out of the bunch and I picked the one with all the knots....he said "no pick a better one than that...that one isn't any good"...I still picked it...I just love the look!

I know questions, questions but this is really interesting to me!
[kitty]

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by Wild Willy on May 30, 2004 09:20 PM
A knot was originally a branch. As the tree grows each year it encompasses the part of the branch that is within the new growth.
If you slice through a knot you'll see concentric circles just as if you cut through a branch (like the age rings of the tree itself)
If you slice through a burl, you will find swirls and patterns.
Does that make sense?
Hmmmmmm..... I'll be back! [thinker]
by Wild Willy on May 30, 2004 11:42 PM

[teacher] These are burls growing on the side of a Western Hemlock tree... root burls are usually shaped differently having smaller bases where they connected to the root and then becoming elongated from that point.

live burls on a tree

This was once a limb on an ancient growth Western Red Cedar tree.

a limb

Cutting into the log shows the knot which was once the limb. The diameter of the knot decreases as you cut closer to the heart of the tree but if the limb had been removed from the tree when it was younger, the new growth of the trunk would eventually grow over the knot and you would have to cut deep enough into the log to reach the period of its life when the limb broke off before evidence of the limb could be found. If you look closely you'll see the circular growth rings. (not a great pix... sorry!)

a knot

This is just a small sun bleached burl.
a burl

Slicing through the burl reveals a myriad of swirls and patterns. It can then be sanded and polished and used for a lot of different things. If the piece was large enough for commercial use, it might be sawed and used as a table top, or possibly left in a steam vat for a week or two to soften the fiber, then sliced with very large, very sharp knives to a thickness (thinness?) as little as 1/20th of an inch, then laminated onto plywood or other surfaces.
a sliced burl

burl

Are you thoroughly confused now Karen?

by catlover on May 31, 2004 12:34 AM
Wow....that is really amazing!!!
No...not confused at all...very, very informative...I will now be keeping a sharp eye out when I venture outdoors, as well as, in the shops to see if I can spot them. They are soooo beautiful.

Nature is just amazing....Before this I thought they were unusual and very beautiful...but with the knowledge you have shared it has given me a whole new outlook on burls as well as knots. Amazing!

THANK YOU for taking the time to educate myself as well as all The Garden Helper Family!!! [kissies]
[kitty]

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by Wild Willy on May 31, 2004 12:49 AM
It was my pleasure Karen!
When I went out to find the burl and knot to photograph for that post I discovered a HUGE (6 foot diameter) burl that will take a GIANT saw to cut. Perhaps I'll take a photo or two when I get around to turning it into a table next winter.... but first I'll have to find a saw capable cutting it!
[grin]
by catlover on May 31, 2004 12:51 AM
After looking at your last 2 shots...I recall as a young teen a very unique table that an Asian friend of mine had....the whole coffee table was very irregular shaped and the sides were like in your pictures. The grain was spirally in circles as well. It was a pretty thick piece from what I remember. That coffee table is where I learned, what I thought at the time was knots, to love the grains in wood. It also had a real thick clear layer of something on it...made it look as if it was wet...that surface also served to protect the table. Wow I bet that coffee table was worth a fortune.

No wonder I haven't been able to spot anything like that now! [kitty]

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by catlover on May 31, 2004 01:28 AM
Oh lots of pictures when your done making your coffee table!!!! That would be a great item to be handed down through the generations. [thumb] Future grandkids would be fighting over it!!!

Another question.... [Roll Eyes] ...just a short question [Big Grin] ...how long does it take for these burls to form and how big can they get? I would think if they got real big very high up a storm might knock them over with the weight! Are they real heavy??? Okay...so that was 2 ?'s but they are related!!!! [Roll Eyes] [kitty]

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by Wild Willy on May 31, 2004 01:54 AM
The root burl in the dream garden was about 200 years old when the tree died (I'd guess it's weight at about 500 pounds) The one I discovered today is probably much older. Burls are very heavy due to the amount of natural oils in them (and consequently they dull the saw quickly...)
Most of the burls I've found are close to the base of the tree so they don't create any weight problems that might cause the tree to fall in the wind. The Maple that those scumbags killed will probably have to be cut down soon (for safety sake) and my burl collection will get much bigger when it does... (that tree has many burls and hundreds of ferns growing waaaaaay high up) Cutting it will be an adventure in itself, and the wood will keep the house warm for several months, but it will make me very sad to chop it down. [tears]
by Nako on June 14, 2004 07:05 PM
I always wanted to make a violin out of buck-eye burl. Problem is that i never knew where the burl part came from lol. I always thought that it was the natural shape of the tree ^.^ so that's why i couldn't ever find the tree lol. I've only seen a few burls in my life and they were on pine trees. I poked it with a stick, and got covered in about a gallon of sap >.< worst 10 days of my life trying to get it out of my hair and out of my clothes lol. But i smelled pine fresh for a good long time [thumb]

Anywho, thank you for the information ^.^ Now i can finally find a buckeye tree, and if its dead, i can grab a burl off it if i can find one [Smile]

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Nako's Webshots!
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by Sue Z on March 09, 2005 07:37 PM
[wayey]

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"WHEN IN DOUBT ... DON'T"
by Sue Z on March 09, 2005 07:38 PM
WOW! [perplexed] They really do have their own lil' characteristics, don't they, Bill?!.

Being the observant that I am, I actually saw, features of frogs, penquins, hippos, etc., etc. [thinker]

(and no, I did not have a marquerita yet!!) [tongue]

Sue z [grin] [wayey]

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"WHEN IN DOUBT ... DON'T"
by Xetox on May 18, 2006 06:00 AM
If you do a search on ebay for burl you will find alot.

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I hate those dang rabbits [Smile]

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