Dublin Shop and 3D Art Teacher, Dylan Pierpont was wandering the woods above the Nordic Ski Center last year and noticed a dead tree with an enormous deformity. The deformity is a highly prized anomaly among wood workers called a burl. A burl results from a tree undergoing some form of stress. It may be caused by an injury, virus or fungus. A burl is the resulting scar tissue in a tree where, in the healing process, the grain of the tree becomes confused and less linear. As a result, the wood of the burl presents a very peculiar and highly figured wood, prized for its beauty and rarity. It is sought after by furniture makers, artists, and wood sculptors. And one Dublin School Shop and 3D Art teacher.
A lot of theories were advanced on how to harvest the burl. Deep in the woods, twelve feet above the ground and over four feet in diameter, all kinds of ideas were advanced and abandoned. The conflicting grain can make harvesting burls dangerous. Finally, last week Dylan, and renowned local forester Swift Corwin, took to the woods with chainsaws and the school’s smallest tractor. They were able to take down the tree safely and cut a four foot section of the tree with the burl. They then loaded the burl onto the tractor. The tractor, which has a 3000 pound capacity, could only lift the burl a couple of inches off the ground. We estimate that it weighs over 2500 pounds.
The burl is rare black birch and is worth at least $5,000. The next step will be to cut some 2” thick slabs from the burl and as many bowl blanks as possible. This is an exacting and difficult process that requires specialized equipment given the weight, size and grain deformities of the burl . It is Dylan’s hope that we can convert this into a series of beautiful tables and bowls. It should give great inspiration to our student woodworkers and 3d artisans.