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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More Manzanita Burl

In February, I posted an article about my first experience turning Manzanita Burl. Since then, I've purchased a few more of these burls, and turned two of them. One is a lidded box. True to their heritage, the burls were wildly cracked from the shrinkage associated with drying.

Many woodturners might discard such hunks of wood, and I couldn't blame them if they did. Spinning such a piece on a lathe can be really unnerving, and is potentially dangerous, because a cracked chunk of wood can fly apart when spun. So, basic rules of turning dictate that we don't do this. But, with careful precautions, it can be done safely. I wrapped tape around the piece in the areas not currently being worked on, to ensure it couldn't take wing; also, the lathe speed was kept on the slow side.

Typical Manzanita Root Burl
Here's a photo of a similar burl before any turning has been done. It is a "root ball" burl, so you can see where the stems of the shrub were cut off at ground level. This was mounted on the lathe and turned to shape.

After roughing the shape of the box, inside and out, and separating the lid piece from the body, I spent hours laboriously filling the cracks with crushed turquoise. The final turning was completed, followed by sanding and finishing.

Manzanita Burl Box w/ Turquoise Inlay
The results were well worth the effort, and I'm really pleased with the box. The depth of Manzanita's red color can be outstanding, and its grain is rich-looking as well. I think the turquoise infill looks stunning against this deep burgundy.

Manzanita Burl Box w/ Turquoise Inlay

You can see by the width of some of the turquoise just how wide the cracks were. But I consider them a welcome opportunity for enhancement, not as a detriment.

Inside of Manzanita Burl Box
The rim of the lid piece was too ragged to be used as it was, so I added a Bloodwood ring to the rim, which comes very close to matching the Manzanita's color, and gave the lid a nice finished rim.

This box is already spoken for, but if you'd like a similar box, check the Bowlwood site.

The second turning recently completed is a vase form, "Rising From Roots", yet another example of the beauty of Manzanita Burl. Heavily cracked, it speaks of the rugged nature of these burls. I chose to not fill the cracks with turquoise (or anything else) this time, letting the wood just speak for itself. And I think its voice is eloquent.

"Rising From Roots" - Manzanita Burl

"Rising From Roots" is available at Bowlwood.

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