Why Burls Make Great Wood Veneer

burl wood veneerNature offers endless beauty, yet ironically, sometimes it’s the so-called imperfections that are the most appealing and fascinating of all. Wood burls are the perfect example. They originate as flaws but despite their abnormality, there are stunning secrets hidden within. When you see the array of and exquisite shapes and patterns available in burl wood veneer, you know immediately that there is a great background story behind their formation!

What are Wood Burls and How Do They Form?

A burl is described as an abnormal, lumpy swell found on a tree. Burls are abnormal growths on the exterior of trees seen in branches, trunks, and even on the root crown. Even though burls are atypical growths, they don’t harm a tree in any way, which is why removal is not necessary; trying to remove a burl, in fact, can actually do more harm than good.

When tree cells split up and grow unevenly and excessively, burls begin to form. When the tissues in a burl grow uncontrollably, a hemispherical bump appears on the tree without the usual wood structure and growth rings. The burl bark usually appears coarser in comparison to the other parts of the tree. The grain inside the burl is twisted and compact, resulting in harder wood.

 Wood Burls: Gorgeous Growth on the Inside

burls veneer furniture

The growth of burls trails the outline of the initial deformity, leading to a creation of knots, twists, and swirls in the fiber of the wood. This in turn creates incredible patterns that lend themselves perfectly to various kinds of woodworking and the creation of unique and spectacular wood veneer. At times, these patterns also include “eyes” that are created by the dormant buds of the burl, making the effect even more fantastic. Other than slicing burls into thin, high quality wood veneer, they can also be used to create boxes, tables, clocks, and other artistic pieces.

 A Closer Look at What Causes Burls

In some cases, stem swellings are brought on by pathogens. Some scientists believe that the abnormal growth and behavior of burls could be due to fire damage, mechanical wounds, virus, fungi, bacteria, or a combination of any of these factors. Regardless of the cause, trees with burl formations are left with an abnormal, eye-catching bump that is ultimately ideal for the production of highly attractive wood veneer and other artistic furniture pieces.

Historically, sawmills considered burls bothersome because the formations made log cutting more difficult. Woodcutters would remove the burls from the tree logs and leave them rotting in the forest. Today, however, burls are rare and in high demand for their fascinating patterns and incredible natural beauty.

 

Sabrina Parisette-HerzogSabrina Parisette-Herzog is a 5th generation wood veneer specialist. Owner and President of Herzog Veneers, Inc., and a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, she and her husband Sam started the company in High Point, NC in 1982.
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