View Full Version : Building with Burl

Michael Smith
10-01-2011, 04:13 PM
I have a nice piece of walnut burl that I scavenged from the gun stalk factories waste pile. It would make really beautiful back and sides. I'm thinking that I will have to stabilize it with epoxy but have no idea how to do this. Anybody know how to go about this? Does it have to be done under pressure?

Pete Howlett
10-02-2011, 10:03 AM
Don't do it - there is a reason they threw it out.

10-02-2011, 10:12 AM
I use WEST Systems epoxy on both sides of the burl scratch plates that I use. Just saturate and then scrape smooth once dry. But saying that it's only a scratch plate. Nothing structural, and they are only 1mm thick. I use burl on head stocks as well, but that is backed up by the very stable neck material.

The only way I'd try using burl on back and sides is as a veneer over a much more stable base material. But I suspect this is not what your question pertains too.

10-02-2011, 03:31 PM
There are companies that stabilize pieces of wood for use by knife-makers. The stabilized wood is often colored before stabilization. They treat the wood with a combination of vacuum and pressure while the specimen is submerged in a proprietary plasticizer. It would likely affect the tonal qualities and it definitely stinks when ground/sanded.

Burl veneer over a stable substrate would give you the best chance of stability. The wild grain in a burl makes smothing and finishing a challenging proposition.

10-02-2011, 10:21 PM
More to the point. The structural integrity of a burl just isn't there. It' can be as pretty as you like, but if you can't bend it, or trust it under tension, then it's no good to you other than being a decorative embellishment.

10-03-2011, 07:27 AM
Typically burl is only used for inlay or decoration. For stability on body woods you'd have to use it as a veneer over a stable wood