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Bengst's picture

Willow burl? (post #82915)

I have the opportunity to obtain a large willow burl.  I've never heard of or seen willow burl.  Doe's anyone have experience with this or know what it looks like?  Is it worth it?




fdampier's picture

(post #82915, reply #1 of 7)

I've never seen willow that was anything worth the effort.  But what the heck I'm a biggoted old cirmudgen. I hate elm, I hate cedar,  I dislike a few others which for political reasons I'll choose not to elaborate.

  But I do like burls, heck love burls.  who knows,  try it you might like it!  what'ca got to lose?

sschefer's picture

(post #82915, reply #2 of 7)

Hey Frenchy, you ought to see the two 8' x 24 6/4 old growth redwood that I salvaged out of an old barn this afternoon. Recycled wood is something I'm all for by the way. This stuff has a beautiful patina but would be hard to work with as it is. I'm planning on ripping it down and planing it to a full inch thickness and see what it looks like.

As far as this willow burl is concerned, Jon Arno can probably answer this with the most authority. I personally think that it would take about a 100 years to dry it sufficently to do anything with it. My experience has been that willows are real water hogs. People commonly plant them around leach fields to help out soil perculation. Its also one of the reasons you see them growing so well around lakes and streams.


Steve - in Northern California

fdampier's picture

(post #82915, reply #4 of 7)


  Why rip it?  what if you just planed it to show the wood underneath? There are lots of things I can use 6/4 for that 4/4 won't work as well.  In addition have you considered just cleaning it and leaving the history in the wood?    It's just soap and water and elbow grease and you might wind up with some lovely wood with charcter that can't be faked... 'Sides 24 inch anything is getting very rare now days.

  Ah, what do I know?  Justa thought,  chances are I'd run it thru the planer too, just because looking at the wood coming out is one of my favorite things.

sschefer's picture

(post #82915, reply #6 of 7)

Frenchy, there are some splits in it so I was going to rip it and cut them out. However, you have given me some ideas now about cleaning it. I don't think its durable enough to serve very well as a table top or something along those lines. But then again, if I was to frame it in bread board style, I wouldn't worry about the splits, I'd just consider it character. I haven't done anything with them yet.

Steve - in Northern California

fdampier's picture

(post #82915, reply #7 of 7)


  I know what you mean.  I have a house full of wood with only a vague idea of where it's all going.  For example My first thought when I looked at all that beautifull  burl was to do a floor of it.  I mean I have more than enough so why not?  after a lot of thought I decided that if I just took 8 of my widest boards that are 22 inches wide  by 11 feet long and used it in a picture frame around   hard maple that would be much more dramatic.

  Then I have all of the rest of that burl to use as   jam extensions, counter tops etc. stuff where people would really notice it.  Often I notice my first idea may have a nugget of a decent idea but it needs refinement.   It's not that I'm wrong but there may be better use down the road.  I guess the trick is to not jump at the first idea but refine and let time go by.  If it's still great when you're ready then do it that way but be open to other thoughts.

Armin110's picture

(post #82915, reply #3 of 7)

Bengst, Willow burl is awsome, the growth rings are large and the figure is outstanding. On the down side it contains lots of water and drys way to fast so keep it covered when not working on it. If you want to turn it do so while green, wear a face shield with wipers, be prepared to get a bath in willow juice. Good luck.

jonsherryl's picture

(post #82915, reply #5 of 7)

Jeffrey, you didn't mention what kind of willow. The willows differ quite a bit in terms of color. Most of them are bland figured and creamy yellow in color. However, our native black willow (Salix nigra) is a beautiful wood, relatively soft (just a little denser than white pine), fine textured, similar to cherry in color and exceptionally nice to work with, since it is easy to cut and shape. It's quite strong for its weight and resists splitting, so screws and nails hold well.

On the down side, the willows are rather unstable and difficult to dry. Also, they have very poor decay resistance and sticker stain easily. Burl will be even more difficult to season than ordinary stock. Go into it with the anticipation that you'll have to scrap a good portion of it due to checks and distortion...but it's still well worth the effort.  Put lots of weight on top of the pile to minimize distortion (100 pounds per square foot wouldn't be the least bit excessive.) The willows spalt easily because of their poor resistance to, maybe you'll get lucky and end up with some beautifully marbled burl.