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Glowing Spalted Birch Burl

A friend provided a birch burl he had been storing in his wood shop for many years. The bark was loose and the wood was a bit punky, but you never really know how burls look on the inside, even after many years. Here is a photo of the trimmed burl attached to my Stuby 1000 lathe using a 4" diameter face-plate. My plan was to turn a bowl with a natural edge and a maximum diameter. A large branch was cut from the side of the 11" diameter burl which created an issue for attaining a large diameter bowl with a natural edge.

Birch Burl on a Stubby 1000 lathe
Birch burl on the lathe ready for turning.

I was able to turn a natural edged bowl with a 10" maximum diameter by shaping the sides inward at the top. The opening in the top of the bowl is 5.5" to 7.5" in diameter. The rim has a natural edge without its thick bark. The bark was loose and flew off during the turning. Photos below show this beautiful bowl that has a lot of chatoyance, that flame figuring often seen in burls. I was surprised by how much chatoyance was in this old burl. There is also a lot of spalting that shows as dark lines tracing out various shapes. The curved outer shape resulted in a 10" max diameter with a smaller opening at the top. It is always tricky to carve such a shape that looks and feels good. This is where a lot of turning experience comes to play. I sometimes spend a long time adjusting the shape! This bowl is 3" to 5" in height. It literally glows with all the chatoyance. This bowl was sanded to 400 grit and sealed with a solution of pure tung oil and citrus solvent (the Real Milk Paint Co.). The wood did have some tear out in the punky areas. Most of this was sanded away, but a small amount remains. These areas visually show tiny pock marks but feel smooth to the touch.


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