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Have you ever wondered how some pieces of wood or woodwork seems to be so beautifully designed? The swirls and twirls you find on them seem practically impossible to be manmade. You are right because this is not any ordinary wood, but is burl wood, wood that is known for its natural swirls and twirls.

What is burl wood?

Now if you wonder if burl wood is the name of a tree then you are mistaken. Burl wood is actually a special, extra growth on a tree that grows in a deformed manner. Burl wood can be found anywhere on the tree but is predominantly found on the trunk, the tree base and even as a rounded underground outgrowth.

The speciality of burl wood is that the grain grows in an entirely differently distorted and unusual manner. This is why they may look ugly from the outside, but the inside is entirely different. It’s magnificent.

wood burl

How to recognize wood burl?

Wood burl is easily recognized on trees through its odd and roundish shape. You may find some visible knots in the wood in various shapes and sizes. The texture of burl wood is also different from the rest of the tree and can be either smooth or rough.

The colour and pattern of burls tend to grow richer with time. A burl needs about 30-40 years to reach maturity and the epitome of its beauty. With burl wood being naturally so unique in design, it is in high demand for its beauty.

It is in high demand with furniture makers, wood watch makers, sculptors, and artists. This is because they use wood burl for making furniture, various kinds of veneer, inlays, gun stocks, music wood, turning wood and other household items like your watch.

types of burl wood

Different types of burl:

WoodBurls can, and should logically form on any tree. However, there are some species of trees like redwood, walnut, buckeye, oak, cherry and maple that are more susceptible to the fungal infections that lead to the production of burl wood. You can find various species of burl wood slabs, billets and veneer.

This is why burls and burl wood is rather rare and is very much in demand for their beauty. This isn’t surprising because you cannot produce burls on demand, as and when you want or need them.

How does burl wood from

How does burl wood from?

It’s when you learn about burl wood that you realize trees are somewhat like humans. They too tend to get affected both internally and externally when under some stress, hurt or if sick.

Wood burls are formed when the trees undergo some form of stress like a fungal or virus infection, an injury, an insect infestation or even mould growth. This stress on the tree leads to a disruption in its growth hormones. This, in turn, leads to the wood grain reacting and abnormally creating these beautifully designed lumps and swirls.

The most common cause of burled wood creation is a tree part getting overcome by insects or mould. Tree infestations tend to strike from deep inside the tree bark. This is why it is difficult to identify a mould or bug infestation just by looking at a tree.

Most of the time, the infestation grows too out of control and is difficult to treat or resolve when you finally realize and notice the infestation. It is at this stage that the burl starts appearing, and it naturally grows larger in size as the tree grows.



How to remove wood burl?

It’s however interesting to know that no matter how larger or small the wood burl growth may be, it does not harm the tree in any way,nor does it shorten its lifespan.

It’s, on the contrary, a rare but sustainable product if carefully harvested. Burl wood can be termed eco-friendly, wood because they can be harvested without chopping down or killing a tree.

The tree however not only looks horrible, but you may also end up killing the tree if you decide to remove the burl from the tree. This is why you should remove the tree burls only from a dead tree or a tree that is planned to be removed.



Things to make using burl wood?

At first glance, burl wood is an eyesore that steals the tree’s beauty. However, it’s available in both small and large sections and is both rare and very valuable.

The actual value of burl wood depends on its size, and the tree it comes from. It is based on its type that it is appropriately used on various projects. This includes not only for making furniture, veneers, and artwork but also for making wood watches and bowls.

And as each burl is unique in design and structure,whatever made from it will be unique. This is also the reason why burled wood products and burl wood for sale are so expensive.



How to identify burled wood?

As mentioned earlier,there are no specific spots for burl wood to grow on trees. While they may show up anywhere,they are most of the time located near the bottom of the tree, or near the spots where branches or limbs were broken off.

Just remember that if you notice burl wood on one tree, any other trees of the same species nearby will also have burls. Also, remember that the size of burl wood can range from anything between two inches or the size of a golf ball to about multiple feet wide.

How to identify burled wood?

There are no specific burl wood’ regions offering burl wood for sale. There are these probable places you can visit, where you will most probably find burl wood:

1. The best place to start looking is an area where you assume the trees will be under most stress like rivers, lakes hillsides or just somewhere down the street.

2. You can also try looking in damp areas or areas receiving lots of precipitation. This is because these spots are perfect for the fungal diseases that trigger a burl growth to thrive.

Now that you know about wood burl,you will be able to easily identify them on trees and will be surprised to learn that there are so many trees with burl wood around you. It’s just that you never noticed them.


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  • Your posts are always great and informative. I never knew the name of the deformed shape of a tree until now. Great

    Amanda Fehrenbach on

  • Wow! I have been collecting the burl wood to make different items. The wood is hard to find, but at least with your post, i know where to search for the trees.

    Peggy Humbracht on

  • I have never dealt with the burl wood into making something. This is a must try.

    Christine M. Walker on

  • You mean burl wood is costly. You know I have been selling the woods cheap because I see deformed trees. Thanks for the information.

    Jesse Cimino on

  • Thanks so much. I have been buying costly wooden objects because of their reflection due to the swirls and twirls. Since I have burl wood, I know it would cost me less now.

    Charles on

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