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Big walnut burl-what would you do?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Daniel Warren, Dec 21, 2019.

  1. Daniel Warren

    Daniel Warren

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2018
    Messages:
    71
    Location (City & State):
    San Rafael, CA
    I traded some English walnut for a black walnut burl that’s about 32” by 34” in diameter. It’s about
    16” deep.

    If you had your way with it, what would you do?
    1BF0E40E-81FE-46BA-B496-9FB5FB360AAF.jpeg 53477EC7-354E-4846-B42F-9FC783A01972.jpeg D7FF59A7-A2AA-4B8B-A1FA-4F81AB2B0EAA.jpeg
     
  2. Glenn Lefley

    Glenn Lefley

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    Jul 10, 2017
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    Location (City & State):
    Invermere, British Columbia
    I have one the same size. Been staring at it for 2 years. Haha! That first cut takes a while!
     
  3. Daniel Warren

    Daniel Warren

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2018
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    Location (City & State):
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    I suspect I’ll end up doing the same, haha!
     
  4. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Location (City & State):
    Peoria, Illinois
    Not going to be an easy decision. You've already lost a few inches on the end from checking, and more where the branch came out. First I would pop off the bark and see if insects are in the sapwood. It's been sitting quite a while. Then it's a decision about what size you can turn, is it for personal use or profit, and what you like to turn. Get a bowl saver if you don't have one. You could come away with a bunch of bowls or one. It's up to you.
     
  5. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2016
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    Location (City & State):
    Nebraska
    You could slip a pillow case over the burl and sleep on it tonight, that should inspire you to dream of big burl projects all night long. Removing the bark will give you a better idea on what you have to work with, you could sand the flat side and give it an application of oil or shellac to see if it has some potential for a flat piece. You can always glue the flat down to a piece of plywood and cut a thin layer off of your big burl and have the thin burl glued onto a flat piece of plywood that you can run through a planner to get a clean flat burl piece for another project. You can repeat that process several times and have some large flat burls mounted on plywood that you can use for several projects and still have a large burl to work with. This is easy to do on a sawmill or a large band-saw.
     
  6. JeffSmith

    JeffSmith

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2009
    Messages:
    335
    Location (City & State):
    Lummi Island, WA
    I was given a similarly sized walnut burl several years ago. It had sat out for several years in a wood lot - those surface cracks may go deeper than it appears depending on where and how long its been sitting. I took a cut parallel to the flat side about 4” deep with a chainsaw, cut that into smaller turning blocks. The cap was turned into a 23” diameter bowl. At the time it was the largest thing I’d ever turned.
    Initially pleased that I had demonstrated enough skill to get it done, it then sat in the shop for the next six years, not quite finished, being moved from place to place to make room. It began to look like a conquistador’s helmet to me and became a bit of an embarrassment as it slowly migrated to the bottom of the to-finish pile. Finally used it to practice carving on the rim and found that the result wasn’t quite as homely as I had begun to think of this piece. It just may turn into a form that can be displayed. It’s now destined to become wall sculpture rather than utility piece.

    The moral of the story? Not sure there is one, but the smaller pieces of the burl became several boxes and a smaller bowl that were finished quickly...while this just took up room for years. Apologies for the poor photo - but its early Sunday morning and the coffee’s warm and inviting...and I just stuck this on the mantle last night.
     

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  7. Daniel Warren

    Daniel Warren

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2018
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    Location (City & State):
    San Rafael, CA
    @Richard Coers i was thinking about how to justify a coring system and this may be it.

    @Mike Johnson after staring at in my garage last night and reading what you wrote that’s an appealing approach. This piece is far too deep for a bowl but a few table tops and then a bowl would be a better use of materials. I may have to connect with some guys who slab for mill access.

    @JeffSmith good to know re checks, mine do look concerning. Your project turned out nice. The end results of any of it would primarily be for me but not opposed to selling any of it.
     

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