What on earth is a Burl? It sounds like “hurl” which does NOT sound appetizing. So what is a "Burl"??
Burls are those g-narly g-nasty guh-ugly looking things on the sides of trees and trunks. They are all over the place and can make your already not so great looking Boxelder tree look even worse.
So what do Burls that have to do with wood working?
Well, believe me or not, but Burls are the PRETTIEST parts of the tree that you can ever find. YUP. Ill prove it to you.
Burls are growths in a tree caused by injury, stress, or fungus, although it's most commonly from insect or mold infestations. The tree makes a "burl" to protect itself from further invasion of the insect, mold, or fungus, which makes the wood twisted, spotty or swirled. Burls are prized by woodworkers for their rarity and beauty.
Poaching is a big problem with Burls because people with often take it right off of the trunk, even cutting down a tree and then taking only the burl while leaving the rest of the wood. Redwoods, even in National Parks, are poached for their burls because of their size, which are often as big as a refrigerator. When burls are cut off of a live tree, it exposes the tree to more diseases and harm and a tree can often die if cut too deep.
Burls are used for veneers, inlays, musical instruments, interior paneling of vehicles, and woodturning. Burls are very hard to work with though because of the twistedness of the wood, causing it to break and chip often when working with it. We use burled woods in ties and spheres, loving to show off the grain of the wood in itself rather than stain it.