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100 Year Old "Christmas Tree" Pine Burl Bowl

This unusual bowl was turned from an old pine burl that was painted and cut for use as a Christmas tree stand about 100 years ago by the grandfather of Linda, the woman who commissioned the project. He drilled/gouged a 1.5" square hole through the entire burl to support a Christmas tree, and added a sliding tray for water to the bottom (see photos below). The burl has significant importance to the family as the grandparents used it for their Christmas tree stand for about 50 years and then gave it to Linda back in the late 1960’s. Her family have used it over the years since then. "It was always a challenge and bit of a struggle to trim the trunk of a good size Christmas tree down to fit in the one and 1/2 by one and 1/2 inch Square hole."

"Turning the old Christmas tree stand burl: To my surprise the main burl was solid. I decided to position the bottom of the bowl near the rounded top of the burl. This would result in a bowl with an interesting non-round natural edge that would show the entire size of the burl. Images above show the original burl with its sliding tray, hole, and the trimmed burl attached to the lathe. I worried about the stability of the wood in the rounded top part of the burl due to the hole. This is the area near the future base of the bowl and must support a tenon for eventual hollowing of the bowl. I therefore filled this part of the hole with black epoxy resin. I started turning and was immediately struck by the amazing chatoyance and colors of the old wood. The colors and sweet smell were typical of pine burl. The bowl was turned without problems other than some minor tear-out near the bottom of the burl (top of the bowl). I shaped the bowl to best bring out the chatoyance and to create a smooth curve from base to natural edge. I kept the 100-year-old painted part of the burl on the edge of the bowl. The colors and patterns of flame/chatoyance are amazing. There are also some interesting dark lines from spalting. The square hole in the bottom was an issue. We considered placing a stone in it but finally decided to fit it with a glued-in and sealed piece of wood cut from a discarded piece of the burl. This patch was not designed to “hide” the hole but to give some continuity to the bowl. The outline of the hole helps tell the amazing story of this 100-year-old burl. This burl has been used by the family as a Christmas tree stand for over 100 years. This bowl has a great backstory, and will be enjoyed in its repurposed form by the family for many years to come. The bowl was turned using handheld tools on a lathe from very dry burl wood and sanded to 400 grit. The bowl was sealed with two coats of pure tung oil (diluted 50% with citrus solvent to speed up drying), hand sanded after each coat. The dimensions of the bowl are 17" x 11" at the top, and 4" high.

See below for images of the turned/sanded/oiled bowl. The last image shows the black epoxy filled square hole in the base of the bowl. I decided to leave it this way since it is on the bottom of the bowl.


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