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How to cut and process a fresh burl for handle blocks

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Burl Source

Weird Wood Pusher
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1st thing I do is place the burl on the bandsaw table and position it so I can make a straight cut along one side of the burl.





This cut gives me a straight edge that I will use against the fence for future cuts.
It also gives me a glimpse of what I am going to find inside the burl.



Here I have cut the burl into 4 slices. One of them I cut wider, right at the crown of the burl.



I laid the slices flat and marked a straight line along the edges.



Next I trimmed the edges straight.

 

Burl Source

Weird Wood Pusher
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This straight edge goes against the fence so I can cut the slices into strips.



This was the thick (2&1/2") slice, so I cut narrower (1&3/8") strips to make the wood against the fence the faces of the blocks.



Turned to lay flat to show the surface that will be the faces of the blocks.



Now I am cutting the 3 narrower (1&3/8") strips. The area against the table will be the faces of these blocks so I am cutting wider (2&1/2") strips.



These are the strips cut from the narrower slices.





Last step is to trim the strips into blocks.



Everything has been cut slightly oversized to allow for what I will have to trim away to true up these blocks after they are finished drying.
To air dry these they should be put on a shelf out of direct sunlight. If you stand them on edge air can flow around the blocks for more even drying. Flip them over every several days. Normal rule of thumb for air drying is about 1 year for each inch of thickness.
 

apicius9

Das HandleMeister
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Cool, thanks. Do you pay any attention to the direction of the growth inyourburls?

Stefan
 

mhenry

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Cool Mark! Thanks. Can I reserve one of those blocks now.
 

Burl Source

Weird Wood Pusher
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Cool Mark! Thanks. Can I reserve one of those blocks now.
It will be months before the ones that survive drying are close to being ready to send in for stabilizing.

Cool, thanks. Do you pay any attention to the direction of the growth in your burls?
Stefan
I try to cut the burl to follow the direction it grew on the tree.
This way results in a structurally stronger piece of wood.
The way I cut these, the blocks I cut from the narrower strips are really close to being quartersawn, and the blocks from the wide strip are flatsawn.

Love the bandsaw!
The old meat cutter bandsaws are monsters!
You can't kill them. They have survived a couple fires and lots of abuse.
We have a few of them here that we use for rough utility type cutting. Stuff we would normally have to do with a chainsaw.
 

WillC

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Fresh burl is gnarley stuff! Good to know where to begin. I suppose cutting radially from the centre would cause more complications, but maybe not for different sized blocks, there must be allot of waste either way.
 

Mike Davis

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Very good stuff Mark! Won't cutting these still fairly green result in more being lost to checking and cracking? I have some that i need to process, but i must start mine with a chainsaw :(
 

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Very good stuff Mark! Won't cutting these still fairly green result in more being lost to checking and cracking? I have some that i need to process, but i must start mine with a chainsaw :(
I just started this year with cutting blocks with green burls instead of just cutting the older dry burls.
It was another supplier who changed my thinking. He kept buying fresh maple and oak burls from me and cutting and drying them himself.
After a couple years I was curious enough to start asking him some questions. What he told me, I should have known already.

Cracking and movement in wood is caused mostly from the outside drying faster than the inside of the wood.
So.....if the wood is cut closer to the finished size (smaller, thinner) it can dry more evenly than it would as a large, thick chunk.
I still have a bit of loss when drying the green blocks, but not a lot.
 
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