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Unusual Burl, Spalted and Figured Woods from Around the World.

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Information about burl, figured and spalted woods





Black Oak Burl

Maple Burl

Buckeye Burl

Madrone Burl
 What is a burl?
The simple answer is that a burl is a mutated growth that will sometimes happen on a tree. Instead of normal growth a burl can form on the side of the tree trunk or underground where the trunk meets the roots. There are quite a few variations of burl growths. The most common is what we call a pin burl. This sort of burl will form a bulge with hundreds of small pins poking outward from the surface. This is the sort of burl that forms the eyes we see in cut pieces of burl. Other variations of burls can produce mishapen bulging growth resulting in a variety of different looks. There are a lot of different theories about what causes a burl. Mine is that a burl is a mutated growth that just happens sometimes. There are some types of trees that are more prone to forming burls. Some areas will have more occurances of burls growing on trees than others. Southern Oregon Oregon and Northern California seem to have burls occuring more than other parts of the US. Even in the areas where burls tend to form on some of the trees, they are still a rare occurance.






 Curly Figure - Redwood

 Quilted Figure - Maple

 Pin Burl Figure - Maple

 Other Burl Figure - Black Oak
 What is figured wood?
The most common type of figuring in wood is fiddleback or curly figure like is seen at times in maple and redwood. Curly figure will look like stripes going across the grain in a piece of wood. With really good curly figure the stripes will change in size and from dark to light as the piece is moved around. This is caused by distortions in the fibers of the wood and how they reflect the light. Curly figured can be caused by stress on the trunk of a tree growing at an angle such as on a steep hillside. This is called stress curl or compression curl. The figure will usually be uneven stripes going across the grain. Curly figure can also occur in portions of the tree trunk usually going upward from the base of the trunk on trees growing straight upright. This sort of figure is usually more even in the width of the stripes. When curly figure is more even and compact it can be called fiddleback figure. Usually 8 or more lines of figure to the inch will qualify as fiddleback.
Another type of figure is called quilted. This happens sometimes with maple and some other woods. This sort of figure is very popular for use in electric guitars. The exterior surface of the log will look a lot like bubblewrap. When cut correctly the figure in the wood will look a lot like the exterior of the log.
There are a lot of other types of figure found in different types of woods. The names are normally descriptive of the appearance formed in the wood.






 Spalted Maple

 Spalted Walnut

 Blackline Spalted Maple

 Spalted Buckeye
 What is spalted wood?
Spalting is a condition that can occur in dying or dead wood. What most people are familiar with is blackline spalt. This is caused by colonies of fungus creating barriers between each other resulting in black lines. It can look like randomly drawn squiggly black lines. Different types of wood will attract different types of fungus resulting in a variety of colors happening as the wood spalts. Buckeye burl is known for the blues, box elder for candy cane red and maple for its variety of colors. Spalting can create a variety of random images giving the wood a very dramatic look. Spalting is part of the decomposition process of wood so the wood usually becomes softer and less durable as the spalting progresses. Most spalted woods should be stabilized for increased hardness and durability.

Visit the Knife Handle Materials Webstore
The woods we feature in our web store were cut special for custom knife makers who don't want to use plain looking knife handle materials. Every piece listed in our webstore is photographed individually with large photos showing both sides of each piece so you can pick out the pieces you like best. Our wood comes with a No Questions Asked, Money Back Guarantee.

 Curly Koa

Spalted Maple Burl

 Figured Walnut

 Redwood Burl

Burl Source is a division of It's a Burl in Kerby Oregon ...... 541-592-5071 or