Burl Woods

Chris Railey

Well-Known Member
#1
When you guys buy Burl wood for handles do you like to get blocks or slabs or do you like ready made scales. I prefer blocks to re-saw as I see fit but I admit I have not ever worked with burls so they may be different animals. I have decent woodworking skills. I have my eye on a couple of blocks but I do not want to make a mistake when I could have just asked. I also prefer non-stabilized non-spalted woods.
 

Vombrown

Dealer - Purveyor
#2
Buying the whole block or burl is certainly better in the long run. Especially if you make a good many knives with wood handles. Just need a band saw or really sharp blade in the table saw to process it all up into scales. Be careful when buying burls as they often have voids in them. Cutting through one with a table saw sometimes makes them explode! That's one of the downsides of processing your own burls. You'll throw away a decent amount of it sometimes as unusable unless you stabilize it. Voids, funky grains and knots are discarded by those who cut them into scales to sell.
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
#3
I like to buy larger chunks, and cut it myself. I generally won't buy unless I see it in person. One thing to be wary of if you buy from pics/off the net, is the fact that many will wet the wood for photos.... to make it look more impressive. Problem there is that often times if you buy, at best the wood needs to be left for 6 months to a year before use, at worst it arrives full of checks and cracks from drying out, due to having been wetted for the pics.

I would venture to say that if you're interested in some blocks, and the pics don't appear that the wood has been "moistened", odds are, you'll receive a good/usable product.
 

Chris Railey

Well-Known Member
#4
I would venture to say that if you're interested in some blocks, and the pics don't appear that the wood has been "moistened", odds are, you'll receive a good/usable product.
I have seen some that said they wet the wood but I did not realize that would add significantly back to the moisture content so thanks for that. Some list that they have applied sanding sealer to show the grain I would assume that would be fine?
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
#5
I'm not sure about the sanding sealer thing...... what I do know is that there is a huge difference in humidity/moisture between Montana, and most places the woods come from, so that alone forces me to let any natural handle material acclimate for a long time (my rule of thumb is that natural material I have shipped in, sits/acclimates for at least a year before being used). For me, if I can tell that they've "wet" wood with anything, I tend to shy away from purchasing it. That doesn't mean you necessarily should too, but I've just had enough bad experiences that I tend to err on the side of caution. It's really heart breaking when I've purchased a really nice, big chunk of burl on the net, and by the time it gets here, and I unbox it, it's already full of checks and cracks..... and in one case, by the time it had acclimated, it was so riddled with checks and cracks that I literally got no usable handle material from it. That was a big lesson learned for me.
 

Chris Railey

Well-Known Member
#6
That would hurt my feelings too Ed. The humidity here runs about 250% so its hard to get wood to dry. When I used to build longbows I had a 80 inch long drying box to help the process but I gave that to a friend when I stopped making bows. Imagine that...
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
#7
I gave that to a friend when I stopped making bows. Imagine that..
That is PRICELESS! I tend to be a hoarder, only because when I do clean the shop out, and haul stuff away, it's only a couple of days later that I'm saying "DANG IT! I wish I'd have kept XXXXX" :)
 

GeneK

KNIFE MAKER
#8
I agree with Ed on wetting wood. I cringe when I see that. Wood that has been dried to 6% - 8% is like a sponge and soaks up enough moisture from the air. The only time it won't hurt to wet the wood is when it is fresh sawn or if it has been stabilized.

A sealer or some type of wood finish will not hurt anything.
 

Von Gruff

Well-Known Member
#9
I have a light box for all my present needs knife handles. It is simply a small cupboard with a 40 watt (incandescent) light buld wired into the bottom of it. I had been having a bit of shrinkage after finishing handles so now after I get any new wood down to usable dryness it sits in the light box untill needed. Being winter here there is more moisture in the air but in the summer there is a very dry atmsphere but once in the light box it stays there. Some of the boards I have will sit in behind the kitchen stove after weighing and stay there for a few weeks till the weights stabilises then they get cut into sizes to fit in the light box. Has worked very well.
 

JJB11B

Well-Known Member
#10
Yesterday I sawed up a massive trunk section of a tree that has been sitting in the corner of my pasture for a long time. One section actually caught fire from my chainsaw as I broke it down. anywho....I was breaking it down to burn it and get rid of it. The kids wanted a bonfire.
Once I got it cut open I realized that it was a really pretty and also reasonably hard wood. Not sure what it is but I am going to resaw some of it into slabs and then cut some chunks about 1" thick x2"w x5"L and dry it. once I am sure it is dry I am going to cut them in half and send them in to be stabilized
 

C Craft

Well-Known Member
#11
Once I got it cut open I realized that it was a really pretty and also reasonably hard wood. Not sure what it is but I am going to resaw some of it into slabs and then cut some chunks about 1" thick x2"w x5"L and dry it. once I am sure it is dry I am going to cut them in half and send them in to be stabilized
Cut them larger than you think you will need. That will allow for the wood to do its own thing and then you can trim down to size later!! Seal the ends with latex paint and let it dry for use!! Might want to address bugs, I had a whole batch of wood that got eat up after I cut it up to dry. The little beggars were under the bark I believe!
 

Von Gruff

Well-Known Member
#12
I woudn't cut it into 5 in lengths but leave in as long as you are able to cut from the piece of log for the simple reason that you will get way less end checking if it is in one length than you will at the end of each of the smaller pieces. I would be cutting it at an 1 1/4 thick by as wide as you can get from the good wood grain and as long as possible and then strip stack it for a year before cutting it down into smaller pieces for stabilising
 
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