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Spalted Aspen Burl Bowl

Aspen burls are rare so I try hard to not waste one, even if there are signs of decay. The following images show the trimmed burl on the lathe ready for turning. This 15" diameter burl had to be stabilized in the areas where the face plate and tail stock are attached. I used thin CA (cyanoacrylate) glue mixed with fresh ground coffee to harden and fill these areas. It was obvious from the start that the burl had significant decay. It is an extra challenge to turn a fragile decayed bowl with a complete live edge.

It took the better part of two days to turn this burl to give a satisfactory bowl that not only shows the beauty of aspen burl but also shows the spalting patterns and decay (inclusions and worm holes). The soft decayed areas had to be stabilized frequently with CA and some actually filled with black fine ground coffee and CA. I have turned many bowls that had decayed fragile areas so I know exactly how to proceed, but the process takes a lot of time and patients. I am certain that most wood turners would not attempt turning a burl with this much decay. The following images shows the finished bowl. The bowl was turned green, dried to constant weight, sanded to 400 grit, and treated with two coats of pure tung oil.


This bowl or platter is 15" in diameter and 1.5" high. The lighter areas show the beautiful banded agate figuring typical of aspen burl. The darker areas show the spalting patterns and were stabilized with CA and fine coffee grounds. The CA/coffee provides a flat black filler that helps stabilize the grain fills small holes. The worm holes are stabilize with CA but not filled. I work hard to turn bowls like this. They have a natural spalted beauty, but sometimes they are too decayed to turn. This one worked well, but I have given up on many. Thanks for learning about my aspen burl bowls.

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