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Thread: Willow burl

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Adrian

    Default Willow burl

    Hello

    Anyone out there have any experience turning willow- or in particular willow burl? The job site I am currently working on has a large burled willow tree in the back yard and a fairly large limb fell down last week. Upon inspection I discovered that it was peppered with burls. Brought my chainsaw with me today and cut it up after work. The color and grain looks really beautiful. What does it turn like?

    Thanks
    Adrian

  2. #2
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    J.P.

    Default Re: Willow burl

    That's not uncommon for willow trees to be covered in burls.
    I picked up several pieces from a friend years ago. At the time I had a heck of a time turning it. Part of the reason was lack of experience but part of it was the wood. It's not a great wood for turning green. It's pretty stringy and tears fairly easy. That said, I held on to a few pieces and when they were dry I turned them (about a year ago). Big difference. Not the best wood I have turned but much nicer to turn dry then green. The problem with drying a big chunk of green willow burl is it's very likely to crack a lot. You could rough turn green then let it dry but leave the walls thick because it will move a lot.
    Here is one of them. As you can see there are a lot of fine cracks in it. These developed as a result of drying it in a large block. I didn't rough turn any of them green so I can't say for sure the cracks wouldn't have developed anyway. I have a feeling they would but maybe not as much.

    There are some more pictures of this one and another one I did at the same time in this thread.


    Here is the thread I first posted it in. There are some action shots in there too.
    HTH

    BTW, If you have too much I'd be glad to take some off your hands.
    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

  3. #3
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    just what you thought :^')

    Default Re: Willow burl

    I turned some straight and Black Willow burl, it is quite soft wood and yes can be a little stringy, but I don't find it difficult to turn, but you do need sharp tools and have them cutting, also with sanding don't use course grids as it will tear the wood apart and you'll have a hell of a time trying to fix that.
    Attached Images Attached Images

    Have fun and take care
    Leo Van Der Loo

  4. #4
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    Adrian

    Default Re: Willow burl

    Wow, nice work guys. Thanks Leo and J.P. What would be a safe grit to start sanding with??

    Adrian

  5. #5
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    Northern Nova Scotia
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    Default Re: Willow burl

    Leo: I really like the last one!

    Jean-Luc

  6. #6
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    just what you thought :^')

    Default Re: Willow burl

    Try to get it so you can start with 180, I would not go lower than 120 grit, as for the drying, Willow is almost foolproof for drying without splitting, BUT, the burl will get lots of checks in them, if you look at JP's and my burl you'll see the checks, as the grain direction of the burls is all over the place, the shrinking is also in every direction and you will get checks just for that reason, but no mayor splitting as is my experience and others.
    I let the wood dry really well for a year or two after turning it and then filled the splits and cracks with coffee ground and CA, looks good IMO

    Have fun and take care
    Leo Van Der Loo

  7. #7
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    J.P.

    Default Re: Willow burl

    Quote Originally Posted by woodbizard View Post
    Wow, nice work guys. Thanks Leo and J.P. What would be a safe grit to start sanding with??

    Adrian
    Regardless of what I'm turning I always strive for an off the tool finish that allows me to start sanding at 120 minimum. Higher is even better. Sometimes I can start at 180 or 220. Sometimes I just get 120 but sometimes it can't even get that. Occasionally I have to take out the 80 grit tool or even ... the 60 grit.
    In any case, always strive for better.If you can start sanding with 120 you're doing good but you can always improve.
    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

  8. #8
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    Miramichi N.B.
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    Default Re: Willow burl

    Leo . how did you chuck up the willow burl to turn the bowl ?I have a couple of burls that I would like to leave live on the bottom and am curious about how you did it.
    Fred

  9. #9
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    just what you thought :^')

    Default Re: Willow burl

    Thank you Jean-Luc,

    Have fun and take care
    Leo Van Der Loo

  10. #10
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    just what you thought :^')

    Default Re: Willow burl

    Hi Fred, I'll try to explain how I did that one, as best as I can remember, it's been a couple of years already.

    What I did with the burl was first get all the bark off, then I placed it on a flat surface and tried to find a position where I would have a couple of places on the burl that would sit even (or very close) on the flat surface, and removed a little of them, so they did sit even.

    See the red annotation circles in the picture.

    Then I marked all around the height I could use and removed (chainsaw) the part that was above that.

    Then had to find the visual center and mark that.

    When all that was done I screwed a large piece of thick MDF onto a large faceplate, marked the center and lined the center of the burl up with that, then mark the places where the burl was contacting the MDF plate and marked those places and drilled for screws.

    Screwed the burl onto the MDF and mounted the whole assembly onto the lathe, then I had to balance the assembly as it was way off balance, so I screwed some heavy pieces to the MDF and then turned the piece.

    Sanded and oiled and removed the burl, and filled the screw holes.

    Just be careful and keep the Revolution Per Minute down, especially if it is off-balance
    Attached Images Attached Images

    Have fun and take care
    Leo Van Der Loo

  11. #11

    Default Re: Willow burl

    Just a thought that you might want to comment on Leo.
    Could you just stick it to the MDF with the foam insulation in a can stuff? I've done it when turning styrofam but not wood. It isn't too bad to clean off and the residue can be taken off with acetone or lacquer thinners and leave a real howdedodat conundrum.

  12. #12
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    just what you thought :^')

    Default Re: Willow burl

    Hi Pete,
    I don't really know Pete if that would work, never tried it, but looking back at that particular one, it was way off balance, I had a large transformer core and needed more to get it balanced, meaning there was a lot of centrifugal force pulling on that piece, I don't think I would trust the foam, the other thing is that you do need supporting places to set it down, and these can be drilled and screwed to a base, also easier to move it some if the piece wasn't where you wanted it, wouldn't be quite the same with a glued-on object .
    Maybe you could try one to see how it works, there were a couple of burl Willow logs at the City wood dump, I would expect them to be still there, not sure though

    Have fun and take care
    Leo Van Der Loo

  13. #13

    Default Re: Willow burl

    That burl is absolutely WILD!!! What are the dimensions of the thing? That is one awesome piece of work. Thanks for allowing the rest of us sawdust makers a chance to see such a work of beauty.

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