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Thread: Birch Burl Bandsaw Box

  1. #1

    Default Birch Burl Bandsaw Box

    This post is for Brian so he'll quit harrassing me. I made this over a year ago but never posted a picture. In fact I never even took a picture. This box annoyed me so much that I hated it when I finally got it finished. It's impossible to tell from looking at it how much work and frustration it took to get it done. When you do that much work you really expect a lot more than this one.

    But I'm slowly getting over it. So today I finally took a picture for Brian. It's a piece of birch burl that I got from him my first trip up there.

    Walnut handles and Minwax gloss wipe-on poly.

    J.P. this is the piece I was whining about in the other thread. Here's a picture from the back to give you an idea of some of the finishing headaches I had to deal with. Sorry the pic is a little dark, but the trouble spots didn't show up very well in the lighter picture. Those dark areas look like a bit of spalting. They don't show up like this normally and they didn't cause much trouble. But they do give an idea of the orientation of the splits and checks I had to fill. In many cases you can see them running a bit below some of the really dark spots. Sometimes they look like an extension of these.

    It's just loaded with splits and checks that didn't start until after I cut out the drawers. After that it seemed like there would never be an end to them. I would get some filled and sanded and about the time I got that done there would be another mess of them show up. Never again!!


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  3. Default

    Looks just fine to me … just don’t understand what all the fuss was about, so you had a few cracks to fill.

    Really Ken, sure was unfortunate you received a bad chuck, I remember they guy that cut it up for me cut it up for maximum use, so you could have received a piece that was cut totally different than mine as I sure didn’t have the problems you had. I had some crack filling to do but they were obvious right from the start. Nice attention to sanding and shaping. A pop can would have been nice for size reference.

    It looks just fine, thanks for the photos.


  4. #3


    Thanks for the kind words, Brian. A couple of thoughts.

    First, a question ... If I recall correctly you did not do your Pisces box from a single block. Didn't you first cut it into slabs and let them sit for awhile before laminating them back together? I still think my problems were largely related to the fact that I tried this from the single block. That the insides were not nearly as dry as the outer portion due to the swirly grain of the burl and when I cut the drawers out of the block it exposed the insides and started some more, uneven, drying and that's what caused the cracking and splitting.

    I agree that it might have been partly just that particular block. If you look at the rear picture you'll see that only about 2/3 of the block was burled and the lower part was regularly ringed. The ringed portion shows that it was getting pretty close to the pith. Maybe that's where J.P.'s "ring shake" comes into it? Perhaps I would have been smarter to figure out where the burled portion was and only used that part instead of trying to get the maximum out of the whole block.

    Second, it's related to my expectations. I put a huge amount of work into that piece ... at least three or four times as much time and effort as any other single piece I've done. But it didn't turn out nearly as well as some of the other pieces I've done with far less work. So that left me disappointed.

    I love the burl and the interesting effects of the grain in the finished piece. I don't know how well that would have worked if I had cut the block apart and laminated it back together. I will find out next time, though, because that's exactly what I plan to do.

    I'm getting over it.


  5. Default

    Hi Ken

    I did exactly as you described … cut it into four pieces and then let it sit for some time. I also never ran into any of the spalting that is plain to see in your photos. If I remember correctly the chunk I used for my box came more from the center of the burl, your piece although from the same burl was a cut below where the burl narrowed and joined the rest of the natural tree.

    If I’m not mistaken this box was made from the same piece you got from me. I gave this box to the previous owner of the two burls. I was supposed to get one burl and he was going to keep the other, soak it diesel or Thompson’s water seal or something and plunk it in his garden. I had to talk him out of that burl as there was no way I was going watch that thing rot in his garden. I still see him quite often and he reports the box has not moved and still looks like new. You can see the long streaks on the sides where I did some crack filling with epoxy and walnut sawdust.

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  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Mount Hope Ont.
    Real Name


    That's a nice lookin box Ken. Thanx for posting the picture and the information.
    I know what you mean about it being disappointing though. I know I've been there. Some projects don't require a lot of work or fiddling around to come out looking great. Then there's those projects that are more work then you ever expected and although they come out OK, they are only as good as the easy ones. You kinda hope all the extra work would result in an exception end product but...

    Still, a box to be proud of.
    J.P. Rap Mount Hope Ont.
    Carpe Ductum (Seize The Tape)

    "In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. Elwood P. Dowd

  7. #6


    I like all the little oddities, tells you that it was once alive! Send it to me if you don't like it. I will treasure it!

    hobby woodworking since 1972

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  9. #7


    Brian, I forgot about that box. Yes, it looks like that piece is the very next piece on the tree to the piece I got. I forgot how nice that box worked out. I'm sure glad you managed to persuade the guy not to stick it in the garden.

    Bryan, my wife would kill me if I tried to give it away. She quite likes it and has never understood why I moan and b!tch about it. J.P. has it pegged.


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