FAQ: What's 'burl' wood? How does it differ from other wood?

14th Jul 2015

When a living tree undergoes some sort of stress -- like an injury, a fungus, or an insect infestation -- a bulbous outgrowth forms. These "burls" usually are covered by bark, and most form underground.

In cross-section, the wood of a burl differs from the rest of the tree -- its "wild grain" is twisted, interlocked and highly figured. It can be difficult to work with and usually must be stabilized before shaping, but for knifemakers who have the required patience and skill, the resulting handles are stunning.