How to Find Burl Wood on Trees

Written by jack burton
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How to Find Burl Wood on Trees
Burl wood is highly prized for high-end furniture. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Many people know of burl wood through burl veneer or burl bowls. A burl on a tree is a deformity triggered by unknown events that cause the wood grain to begin growing in a chaotic formation instead of a smooth linear pattern. Burls form both above and below ground and look similar to a bulbous tumour attached to the side of a tree. They may be a few inches to a few feet in diameter. In the hands of a skilled and experienced woodworker, a burl can take on a beautiful, one-of-a-kind shape that can command high market prices. Finding burls requires a keen eye and willingness to spend hours in the woods.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Walk slowly through an area with many trees when the trees are bare of leaves. Burls can grow on virtually any kind of tree although soft wood burls are rarer and generally not as valuable.

  2. 2

    Encourage your brain to focus on "round" instead of linear. Tree trunks and branches are long and straight, while a burl is curved and looks like a bowl. Some burls even completely girdle a tree trunk or branch.

  3. 3

    Scan the trees from bottom to top. A root burl of significant size looks like an overly large, roundish-looking root sticking above the ground.

  4. 4

    Carefully inspect all the trees around a burl-bearing tree. The experience of the Blakely Burl Tree staff leads them to believe that there is a genetic disposition to burl-creating trees and you will likely find others near a mother tree.

Tips and warnings

  • Before removing a burl from a tree, first obtain permission from the owner.

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