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Burl Wood - Read How an Outgrowth Can Create Artistic Pieces

Smita Pandit Jun 16, 2019
A burl is basically an outgrowth on the trunk or a branch of a tree. Provided here is the information on wood extracted from such an outgrowth.
The term 'burl' refers to a bulb-like protrusion or deformity that develops on some trees. It is basically an abnormal growth that occurs on the root or trunk of trees. Such a rounded, knotty, tumor-like growth occurs when the tree is subjected to some kind of stress. It could develop due to an infestation by fungi, mold, or certain insects.
Most wood sculptors, wood crafting artists, or furniture makers would include items made from such outgrowths in their list of prized possessions.


Not too many trees produce such outgrowths, and that explains why furniture or decoration pieces made from this type of wood are sought after. If you are a collector of wood sculptures, you might have seen the beautiful works of art that are created from this type of wood.
The interesting thing is that, these outgrowths cause the wood fiber to develop swirls, knots, and twists. It generally takes about four to five decades for such outgrowths to develop such intricate ring patterns.
The cost of the wood varies, depending on the pattern. If is pattern is intricate or interesting, it would be quite expensive. The texture and color of the outgrowth also impact the price. Its size could range from a small ball to a massive growth.
Outgrowths from certain trees are more expensive than others. For instance, Amboyna burl from Padauk trees is quite expensive. This is basically due to the spectacular patterns that are created by the erratic growth of wood grain. One of the patterns that creates a dramatic effect is the creation of small spots or eyes surrounded by swirls.
Certain varieties are more prone to getting infested by fungi, mold, etc., and are more likely to produce a larger number of outgrowths. Some of the trees that develop such outgrowths include Redwood, Oak, Buckeye, Myrtle, Spruce, Maple, Walnut, and Elm.

Uses of Burl Wood

Once the outgrowth from the trunk or the root is removed from the tree, it is cut in order to examine the ring pattern. Sometimes, the growth is so big that several objects can be carved from a single outgrowth. Though these outgrowths don't harm the trees, at times, the growth is so big that the tree might die due to its weight.
Generally outgrowths from dead trees are gathered for the purpose of making furniture or sculptures. Wood that is cut from such outgrowths is highly valued when it comes to wood carving and crafts or furniture making.
Burls from certain trees are used for making hand carved bowls, whereas some varieties of wood cut from tree outgrowths are used for making veneers or trims for furniture.
It is also used for making mortar and pestles, wooden handicrafts or decoration pieces, jewelry boxes, wooden clocks, inlay in doors and tables, panels in automobiles, and inlays for picture frames.
Furniture made from this type of wood blends best with the decor of country homes, but these would also blend well with contemporary interiors. Due to the rich texture, wood grain, and beautiful patterns, this type of wood produces the most amazing type of furniture.
One needs to be very careful while working on wood cut from tree outgrowths, due to the irregular grains within the outgrowth. Wood sculptors have to use their excellent woodworking skills to create exotic-looking pieces.
The rarer the pattern, the more expensive would the furniture or sculptures be. Generally, wood sculptors or artists hand carve the piece or shape the wood on a wood lathe to create beautiful objects from this wood.
Isn't it amazing that a deformity in wood can be turned into such beautiful works of art! Well, it wouldn't be wrong to call handicrafts made from such outgrowths a work of art produced by the combined effort of Man and Nature.