What is Burl Wood? (with photos)

Burl wood often arises because a tree has undergone some sort of environmental stress.

Burl wood is a type of wood used by artists to create sculptures and other items such as clocks and even some types of furniture. It is highly prized by artists due to its unique ring shapes and patterns. This wood is a fast-growing type of abnormal growth found in some trees. It grows because the tree has experienced some kind of environmental stress or damage and is usually caused by a fungal or insect attack.

Burl wood is popular with artisans.

The number of trees that produce burl wood is quite low. Also, certain areas tend to breed more than others because all or many of the trees in a given location are likely to be attacked by the same fungus or insects. Certain species also tend to be more susceptible to attack and therefore more likely to develop burl wood. For this reason, certain types are rarer and more valued than others.

Often, a tree that has developed burl wood is still quite healthy. In fact, many of these trees can continue to live for many more years. Other trees develop burlwood branches that are so large and heavy that they create additional stress on the tree and can cause its death.

When used in woodcut, burl wood is taken from the tree, preferably after the tree has died, to avoid killing it. It then opens to review the built-in standard. Sometimes a single branch can produce several different pieces for an artist to work with.

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Some burlwood branches develop regular growth rings that simply grow at an accelerated rate. This type of burl wood is not as sought after by artists as other shapes, because the patterns are not as interesting to look at. Most carpenters prefer burl wood that grows in irregular, swirling patterns and contains what are known as eyes – small spots that develop in the wood. While pieces with unusual patterns are the most desirable shape, they are also the most difficult to work with. This is because uneven patterns make wood more difficult to saw, chisel and cut without splitting the wood or accidentally cutting it in the wrong direction.

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