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Turning a Birch Burl with lots of Chatoyance

A customer brought me a large birch burl that is shown in the first photo below. He wanted me to turn a bowl for him since the birch tree and burl had significance to his family. I placed the burl on my lathe as shown in the second photo. Note that the head stock (power end) of the lathe is attached to the flat area where the burl was cut from the tree. This positions the base of the bowl on the rounded top of the burl (left side of the burl in the second photo where the tail stock of the lathe secures the burl with a live center). I always aim for a bark edge on my bowls. I curved the top ends (or wings) of the bowl toward the top of the bowl and brought the sides down toward the base to capture a full bark edge. The next two photos show side views of the bowl with the wings going up like two hands. Look at the photo of the burl on the lathe and try to visualize where the edge of the bowl lies. The difficulty in turning burls into bark edged bowls is to avoid having the edge of the bowl include the flat sawed areas on both ends of the burl. I avoided this by curving the wings of the bowl upward. This also maximizes the amount of burl wood in the bowl. This burl contained amazing chatoyance or flame giving it a very pearly appearance. The bowl glows and the lines of flaming curl move as the bowl is viewed from different angles. It is difficult to photograph this effect. I got the best shots in full sun.

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