Burl wood has many uses, from veneer to solid natural wood furniture. It is also highly desired by professional burl wood furniture makers and DIY woodworkers. Stroll through any arts and craft show, and you will see it used in pens, bowls, jewelry, and custom furniture. Burl wood’s also found in knife handles, car accents, and many other trinkets and art pieces. Although burl wood is found in many wood species worldwide, it is not common. A little-known fact is it is only found in 5% of the trees. However, the U.S. Pacific Northwest yields the highest quality. There are many styles of natural wood furniture, but we prefer to work with solid live-edge wood or wood slabs. We also prefer to use natural wood sourced through selective harvesting and salvaged dead-standing trees and tree stumps on the forest floor.
Burl wood furniture
Below, watch a video of Kelly Maxwell and the Littlebranch Farm crew building a wood slab table.
For many years, the trend of using thin wood slices glued to a less expensive material or plywood, created veneer plywood. In the 18th century, Thomas Chippendale used veneer wood in his famous furniture. Later, the piano industry in North America became the first to use veneer plywood. While keeping the cost down, at what cost? Thomas was only one of many master furniture craftsmen of the 18th and 19th centuries building veneer furniture. Many of the pieces are unmatched and show the skill of the craftsman. I often enjoy browsing antique stores and marveling at natural wood furniture. I find it interesting that so many have damaged veneers beyond repair. Any wood furniture’s susceptible to damage from improper care, but veneers are at greater risk. I do not repair and refinish, but I understand veneer furniture is difficult, if not impossible, to repair.
Burl Wood, what is it?
Often clients ask what’s burl wood and where it comes from. Basically, in a nutshell, it’s an abnormality or growth in a tree. In comparison, burls bulge from the tree, but many hide in tree roots hidden underground. Under the bark surface, the wood surface reveals pins or nodules. The big leaf maple burl will have sharp pins protruding from the burl. These transmit into the wood as part of the unique wood grain pattern. Another common question is, what causes burl? It is believed that some stress from a virus, fungus or injury, or other environmental cause. Even the effects of stress are remarkable, but that’s another subject.
We specialize in custom natural wood furniture built from live edge wood, wood slabs, and natural wood. The main wood species are old-growth redwood burl, Claro walnut, and Bigleaf maple. Also, we use western juniper, also known as twisted juniper. Throw in some driftwood, stumps, and roots; we have the ingredients to build artistic rustic wood furniture. Natural wood will warm your home’s decor, whether it’s a rustic modern office desk with a live edge wood slab supported acrylic or metal base or a rustic vanity custom-built from a salvaged root base. I have often said the only limitation is the imagination and sometimes the budget. Many artists are building high-quality burl wood furniture. We are in Nashville, TN, in the SoBro district.
Custom Wood Furniture
Earlier in this article, I spoke about desiring to use wood slabs that are responsibly harvested. I’m not a tree hugger, but I do believe in being responsible for sourcing material for my rustic style burl wood furniture. One of the great joys is sanding a burl wood table and watching the complex wood grain unfold in front of you. I recently worked on a massive Big Leaf maple burl 84″ by 64″ and 2.5″ thick live edge wood slab. It was a stunning piece of wood before I started, but wow, the depth, movement, and color. The final table featured a fire-charred root base supporting a burl wood slab. Nothing warms a home’s decor like natural wood furniture made from ethically sourced burl wood. Whether your style is rustic furniture or rustic modern built from natural burl wood, contact us.
Artistic functional furniture
Our rustic natural wood furniture designs utilize ethically sourced natural wood native to the U.S., Most salvaged from the Pacific Northwest. Special care is taken in hand-selecting each piece based on its aesthetic beauty, size, and quality. Thus, we have the privilege of working with the best-air-dried wood in our backyard!