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View Full Version : Experiment - Making Buckeye Black and Blue.....I hope



Burl Source
04-19-2012, 08:09 PM
Buckeye grows some pretty cool burls, but what makes the wood really dramatic is the black and blue coloring.
But........it doesn't always look that way.
When you first cut Buckeye it is a white/gold color.
The coloring that develops is a fungus that can grow in the wood under the right conditions.
Usually you just leave the whole burl sit for a couple years.
Then you cut it up and see what you have.

With this Buckeye I am trying something different.
Here I have a 300 pound burl that I have cut into 3 manageable pieces.
They are in black garbage bags to keep them from drying out and to give the fungus good conditions to get started.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/mar12/be001.jpg

Buckeye burl usually has bigger burl points and a lot of voids with bark and dirt pockets.
This burl was the best my supplier had in his wood yard. I picked through all and settled on this one.
Very compact burl covering the entire piece. This may be the best one from this year's harvest.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/mar12/be002.jpg
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/mar12/be003.jpg

Here you can see the start of some of the fungus. Looks a lot like mushroom mycelium. (spelled wrong)

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/mar12/be004.jpg

When the weather warms up over 70f I will let these pieces cook in the bags for a couple weeks.
After that I will cut them into slabs and try 2 different methods to turbo charge the coloring.
One method is with corn meal covering the wood with the slabs flat on top of each other. This is supposed to give the nice blue coloring.

The second method is the same except you coat the faces of the slab with mayonaise.
This is supposed to give the darker black coloring.

Supposedly they will be colored up within a month and ready for drying and stabilizing.
I don't know how well this will work because I have never tried it before.
These methods are like seeing bigfoot.
You never get to talk directly to someone who has done it.
You talk to someone who knows someone who talked to someone who did it with great results.

I will make posts in this thread as the buckeye experiment continues.
This should go into a category of useless info, but possibly a little bit interesting........or not.
I love having my own subforum where I can post my ramblings without getting into trouble for making inappropriate posts.

Crothcipt
04-19-2012, 09:06 PM
Lol love experiments like this. Hope it goes as well as you think it will.

Eamon Burke
04-19-2012, 09:28 PM
This is gonna be awesome.

Deckhand
04-20-2012, 04:05 PM
This is going to be great.

TB_London
04-20-2012, 05:01 PM
Tried unsuccessfully to spalt some beech years ago so will be watching this with interest. Did you wet the wood before you bagged it?

Burl Source
04-20-2012, 05:13 PM
I didn't wet it. It was still green. Cut about 1 month earlier. Still had a moisture content over 30%.
I was just told another method with buckeye using beer. I was told it has to be German Beer though.
I might try that as well.

Burl Source
04-24-2012, 05:43 PM
Today I pulled out the smallest chunk to see how it was coming along.
This is about a 70lb chunk of the burl.
Looking pretty good on the outside in a moldy sort of way.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/2.jpg

I will be using the meat cutter band saw to cut into oversized pieces.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/1-1.jpg

This is the first slab I cut. The reason why you don't see a lot of eyes is because I cut the slab extra thick to make the cut surfaces become the edges of the blocks. When I cut again I will make cuts parallel to the outer surfaces of the burl so it will show the eyes on the faces of the blocks.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/3.jpg

This is all the cutting I will do at this phase of the experiment.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/5.jpg
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/4.jpg

The wood is still good and moist. Still over 20% moisture content.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/6.jpg

Next I will get some cornmeal to try with this portion of the burl.

Burl Source
04-24-2012, 07:00 PM
Now for the corn meal.
I bought some organic cornmeal because I wasn't sure if the regular stuff might have chemicals that would inhibit the fungus growth.

Here I poured a layer of cornmeal and covered the 1st slab.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/7.jpg

Now the rest of the pieces with cornmeal in between and covering everything.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/8.jpg

Now I closed up the bag.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/9.jpg

Now I will move it back in a sunny spot and let it sit and grow.

SpikeC
04-24-2012, 07:04 PM
Boy-howdy, I'll betcha that is going to get ripe by the time it's done!

Deckhand
04-24-2012, 07:32 PM
Good luck. This is a very entertaining WIP.

Eamon Burke
04-24-2012, 08:02 PM
I bought some organic cornmeal because I wasn't sure if the regular stuff might have chemicals that would inhibit the fungus growth.


Sad but true. The things we feed ourselves.


How long you think it needs to sit??

Taz575
04-24-2012, 08:11 PM
It's like Shake N Bake!!!

Burl Source
04-24-2012, 08:36 PM
How long you think it needs to sit??

It is supposed to take about a month.
I will be checking on it weekly to see how it progresses.

Burl Source
04-25-2012, 05:26 PM
I have a friend in CA who harvests a lot of buckeye - he swears by yogurt and kefir to get the coloring. I'm excited to see how these turn out!

For this next batch I am going to try the yogurt treatment.
If it doesn't turn out I can always blame Aaron.

This piece is about double the size of the chunk I used for the cornmeal batch.
So I had one of the guys cut it into slabs on the pole mill.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/a.jpg
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/b.jpg

Now for the yogurt.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/c.jpg

I used a paint brush and painted on a thick coat of yogurt on both sides of the slabs.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/d.jpg

I stacked the slabs face to face inside a couple black plastic bags.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/e.jpg

Now I placed the bags in a spot where they will have exposure to sunlight for most of the day.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/f.jpg

DeepCSweede
04-25-2012, 05:29 PM
Well, if the moisture content stays up in the cornmeal batch, you may end up with some burly whiskey!!

Burl Source
04-25-2012, 08:45 PM
Well, if the moisture content stays up in the cornmeal batch, you may end up with some burly whiskey!!
:shocked3:
I am afraid of what it will smell like not to mention how it would taste.
Sounds like you are a lot more adventurous than I would ever be.

Burl Source
05-16-2012, 03:39 PM
And it smells disgusting!
This is the corn meal batch.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/be001.jpg
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/be002.jpg

Next I will scrape off the gunk and cut a piece to see what is inside.

Deckhand
05-16-2012, 03:44 PM
Ha ha can just imagine how disgusting it smells. Will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Twistington
05-16-2012, 03:57 PM
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/a.jpg


Dang, limbo just turned into an extreme sport. :)

Burl Source
05-16-2012, 04:10 PM
When I cut a piece of the corn meal batch, not encouraging.
No new color inside.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/be003.jpg

Next I opened the yoghurt batch.
It was growing as well but did not have the bad smell like the corn meal.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/be004.jpg

When I cut it I saw some color starting to spread inside.
Looks kind of olive green right now. Who knows what it will evolve into.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/be005.jpg

99Limited
05-16-2012, 05:47 PM
Wouldn't this be something that would take years for any color to develop deep inside these pieces?

Burl Source
05-16-2012, 05:59 PM
Wouldn't this be something that would take years for any color to develop deep inside these pieces?
The natural method takes place over about a year or two.
I am trying to jump start things. It remains to be seen if I am successful.

Crothcipt
05-16-2012, 08:26 PM
Its been less than a mo. How much faster do you want it to go?

SameGuy
05-16-2012, 08:37 PM
Dang, limbo just turned into an extreme sport. :)

BWAHAHAHAHA! :D:D:D

Burl Source
05-16-2012, 08:46 PM
Its been less than a mo. How much faster do you want it to go?
Now would be good.
I re-bagged everything and put them on a new pallet in a sunny spot.
I will try to leave them alone for another few weeks.
I left about 1/2 of the buckeye in a solid piece to allow it to run it's course the normal way.

Crothcipt
05-16-2012, 11:08 PM
Now would be good.
I re-bagged everything and put them on a new pallet in a sunny spot.
I will try to leave them alone for another few weeks.
I left about 1/2 of the buckeye in a solid piece to allow it to run it's course the normal way.

I figured you would say that. With something like this having it done in 6 mo. would seem right. But then I dropped out of Bio. and went to Chem.

Crothcipt
07-14-2012, 09:31 PM
Its been a couple of months. How goes this petri experiment?

Burl Source
07-20-2012, 07:37 PM
Here I pulled the tarp off the Buckeye to see how it is doing.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/bb001-1.jpg
Pretty good looking on the outside.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/bb002-1.jpg
Cut up one of the smaller pieces to see what is inside. Finally some blue!
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/bb005.jpg
Now I am covering it back up for another month or so. That way the blue can spread and get darker.

Crothcipt
07-20-2012, 07:43 PM
Yep about another 2 mo. and you will be whistling blue river.:ubersexy:

Burl Source
08-05-2012, 03:14 PM
Yep about another 2 mo. and you will be whistling blue river.:ubersexy:
Time to start whistling!
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/004-8.jpg

Crothcipt
08-05-2012, 06:27 PM
I can't wait to see what you have in the other 2 bags.

apicius9
08-05-2012, 06:28 PM
Looking good!

Stefan

Burl Source
08-09-2012, 04:50 PM
These photos show a batch cut from each way I treated the buckeye.

1st photo was with cornmeal. The portion of the slab that was in contact with the cornmeal did not turn blue. Part of the interior did.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/001-31.jpg

2nd photo was with the yoghurt. A lot like with the cornmeal.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/002-24.jpg

The last batch (6 blocks on top) was a thick chunk untreated.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/003-14.jpg

I won't know for sure until I cut up the big untreated chunk,
but it is looking like the buckeye gets better blues if it is left unsliced and left to color up on it's own.
I will post photos when we cut the big chunk.

tgraypots
08-09-2012, 04:55 PM
I think I'll write a song, "if I were a rich man....................."

SpikeC
08-09-2012, 09:59 PM
The moral is "don't mess with mother nature"!

Hattorichop
08-09-2012, 11:53 PM
I like the Buckeye Yogurt Burl!

Eamon Burke
08-10-2012, 04:23 AM
:plus1: for Yogurt Burl.

Burl Source
09-06-2012, 08:39 PM
1st Batch of the stabilized stuff.
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/003-18.jpg

Carl
09-07-2012, 12:09 AM
It doesn't look blue, I like yellow better anyway!

apicius9
09-07-2012, 12:10 AM
Looks great, Mark!

Stefan

Crothcipt
09-07-2012, 12:13 AM
I like it!! It looks like the batch you didn't do anything with other put it in the bag.

Burl Source
03-03-2013, 09:04 PM
Well.....it is almost a year later so I dug out a big chunk of the Buckeye that I had set aside to let it do it's own thing naturally.
When we pressure washed the outside to remove any pockets of dirt and stuff, the exterior was almost all blonde. Hardly any color.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/1212/bb001_zps9edf22a4.jpg
http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/1212/bb002_zps773618ee.jpg

With the bandsaw I split the chunk in half to see what was inside.
There was a lot of really good blue coloring.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/1212/bb003_zps96d13e84.jpg

Now I cut it into slabs.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/1212/bb004_zps1065267c.jpg

Lots of blonde and blue contrasting colors. I am happy.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/1212/bb005_zps1e14cffe.jpg

Tomorrow I will cut the slabs into blocks and finish up drying the wood. After that they will be off to K&G for stabilizing.

What did I learn from this?
Don't rush things and let things happen the way they are supposed to happen.

I had forgotten all about this piece until a couple knife makers stopped by the other day and asked how the experiment was going.