As explained on our HOME PAGE, only burls that have dried naturally for up to five years are used in the creation or our bowls and artifacts. Before that, they will contain too much moisture and the bark will be too firmly affixed to the timber. We prefer natural drying over artificial (kiln) drying because it "cures" the wood more slowly, allowing the material to retain most of its natural characteristics and without removing what many craftsmen believe is the "life" in the material.

This burl was cut from a live tree and has been stored for about 3 years - it is still too early to work

This burl has dried for many years, The bark has been removed and the "roughing-out" stage has commenced

Many producers of burl bowls use a lathe to shape the bowl interior but we use only tools that allow the natural shape of the item to be retained. This shaping process is where much of the craftsman's skill is required. How best to retain the original characteristics of the piece, whether to create sharp edges or leave a flat surround, how deep to cut the bowl, which, if any protuberances to remove of leave? These are all a matter of judgement. On many occasions, the complexity of the shape prohibits the use of power cutting tools, so almost all shaping is done with a mallet and chisels.

The "split" in the burl was so much a natural feature that the craftsman decided to retain it. Note the way the edge width has been varied to accommodate the shape as it changes.

Once the shape has been created, the real work commences! This is the final sanding stage and can take many hours to achieve a satisfactory result. Otherwise, every imperfection will be magnified by the finishing oils. Certainly, some power sanding is used in the process, but the final work is laboriously done by hand, with ever finer grit for the smoothest possible result.

At last, the bowl is ready for its finishing materials. This also is where our craftsmen are highly selective. Many producers use polyurethane because it creates a moisture barrier, (it is plastic after all) but it usually darkens the colour, making flaws harder to see. We use only Danish oil, often blended with other natural oils to achieve the colour we believe best suits the item.

Finally, the item is waxed and hand rubbed to fill any tiny indentations and produce a more even colour.

Now you may understand why the process takes so long and why the price of a genuine craftsman-made burl item is higher than the machine-made alternative.

Abercrombie River Burls 2019
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