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Very Rare Sumac Burl

A customer brought me a sumac burl to turn into a bowl. I had never seen a sumac burl and had never turned sumac wood. The images below show the 6" diameter burl on its 3" diameter log.



Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina, synonym: R. hirta) is a deciduous shrub to small tree in the Anacardiaceae or Cashew family, native to eastern North America. On doing some research, staghorn sumac burl is extremely rare. My goal was to make a bark edged bowl so I trimmed the burl and attached it to my Stubby lathe. The following images show the burl and the turned profile. I kept the part of the log with the burl to provide some size and stability to the bowl. The log had a hole through its center or pith. This log was old and very dry, so this hole was probably present when the small tree was cut. I decided to work this hole into the design of the bowl rather than cutting off the bottom of the burl.

Turning this burl was a delicate and dusty job. I wore my respirator the entire time. I do not usually work on such small bowls. It took a long time to hollow out this bowl. It was a delicate job to keep the wall thickness constant without knocking off part of the edge. The outer walls were also full of deep depressions and worm holes. I used a lot of CA resin to stabilize the walls during the hollowing, and I kept the wall thickness just enough for strength. This small bowl (6" diameter, 5" height, ⅜" wall thickness) came out nice and the colors and figuring are beautiful. The following images show the finished (sanded/oiled) bowl. The hole from the pith of the log is certainly in the bowl's sides and bottom. I think it adds to the story of this rare and beautiful burl. The colors of this bowl are yellow to olive-green with dark brown in the bark areas and inclusions. The circular grain lines around the pith of the log (hole) are strong and coarse. This feature is beautiful and nicely shown in the second image below. Click on the images to enlarge them.


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