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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have found a couple medium sized cherry burls and am curious how to season them before I try turning. Not sure if I have to seal them and just let them dry forever or if I can turn them green like other blanks.

I also came across a very large paper birch burl and am curious if it is even worth working with. It's just about spherical at about 26" in diameter on a 10" trunk just a few feet off the ground. The tree doesn't look particularly healthy however. I've heard that white birch is kinda garbage but maybe the burl would be nice. It's on my neighbor's property but I'm pretty sure I can get permission to cut it. I'd throw in a free bowl just to sweeten the deal.

Any advice would be appreciated.

PS, if the birch burl is worth something, how the hell do I get it out of the forest? There is no way I'm getting in there with a tractor and I certainly am not carrying it on my shoulder. I suppose I could always drag it out with my brother in law's quad.
 

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i harvest a lot of burls and have been doing it for a couple of years now. you can get a water based wax sealer from woodcraft. just seal the ends and depending on the sizes of the burls it should take a couple of years to dry. remember that you want to seal any wood as soon as possible, preferably the same day you cut it, to eliminate checking. the stuff from woodcraft cost around 20$ a gallon and goes quite a long way, just brush on and let dry, i put a lot of coats on to ensure that i have a great seal!
 

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i don't know if i would recommend working with green burls. i have burls that i want to work with, but the still have a couple of years left to dry. i guess no harm if you get them for free, but if it turns out to be beautiful wood, and it isn't handled properly then you are just stuck with beautiful fire wood!!!! you never know what you are going to get under that bark. is the birch healthy? i have never worked with any, but have seen some online and i think any burl offers great characteristics! i would if able harvest the wood, seal it and wait and see what happens!!! the two cherry ones look like they are of good size, and should offer some great grain!! post a pic of the birch if you can
 

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I don't get to turn much burl wood so take this with a grain of salt. They don't seem to check as bad as regular wood but I still think you should take most of the same precautions you do with green wood.
Anchorseal is not a cure-all. It's better than nothing and on burls may actually work but I've found that on regular logs is just slows down the checking so I might have time to get to them. If I want to try and dry the wood I seal the end grain portions and pray a lot. Again in my limited experience burls do better about not checking.
I use canning wax that I melt in a used electric skillet. I completely cover the wood with that and then I treat it as green wood when I finally get around to turning it because it won't dry. You can brush it on to the end grain areas and it will greatly slow down the checking, although with some burl's it's hard to know where the end grain is.
I think the best method to save a burl is to rough turn it, coat the end grain with anchorseal. Then place it somewhere where there is little air movement. If it's a really important piece I cover the outside with newspaper and set it on a wire shelf with the opening toward the bottom. This has been the method that has caused the least losses for me on any wood and should work for burls.
Other than that I would turn it completely leaving it an even thickness all over and as thin as I dared.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've heard both sides of the story now and it looks like there is no clear winner. I think I'll just cut one down the pith, turn one green and wax the other for some future year!
 

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Chester's Gorilla
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In a couple of weeks I'm going to go to my dad's property to hunt for some burls. I've been reading up on how to cut and seal, but am a little confused on what would be end grain on a burl. Isn't most of it end grain? Or are people usually referring to the bits of the log above and below the burl? What if the burl is sliced off the side of the tree?

Thanks, and sorry, not meaning to hijack your thread. -SW
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You're not hijacking anything! You made a good point. I don't know what the "end grain" is on a burl. For me it's gonna be a lot of trial and error. Sadly the small burl I cut was rotten. Rather that toss in the wood pile I decided to cut out the good pieces for use as inlays and decoration. Time will tell if they split or not.
 

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Chester's Gorilla
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Thanks, HD. Sorry to hear about your burl, but glad you were able to salvage some for later use.

I may post this question in the milling section. They will probably know.
 
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