Amazing burr sycamore tree...

25 September 2014, Woodturning in practice, Would you like to leave a comment?

Two weeks ago, I had a call from a tree surgeon, who was working in some woodlands nearby. He’d just felled a ‘lumpy’ sycamore tree and suggested I came and had a look.

I arrived to find a huge trunk, which had been cut into three sections. Each piece was covered in burr, with the base being particularly impressive. This was a real surprise, since sycamore rarely grows like this. The lower section was quite hollow (or rotten!) and most likely the reason for it being felled. However, this was of minor consideration and I made arrangements to purchase it straight away! I returned a few days later and began the task of cutting it up.

The grain markings inside were simply exquisite. Swirls and spikes seemed to appear after every cut - perfect for natural edge bowls. Hopefully, these will end up being quite similar to the burr elm pieces I’ve turned in the past, though much lighter in colour. The photo below shows just some of the natural features – they do look more impressive in the flesh!

The outside was covered in burr...


Loads of swirly grain...


This piece is marked up with natural edge bowls in mind. The chalk line represents the underneath, with the bark being at the top…


Nearly finished - there's a good heap of shavings to clear up…


A selection of pieces I cut from the tree…


There’s a whole mix of sizes, including many smaller sections too. The piece in the photo below will only measure about ten inches across, but will make a beautiful bowl when finished...


I couldn’t resist rough turning it straight away – look at those beautiful markings! I wonder what the natural edge ones are going to look like?...


Jonathan Leech

Written by Jonathan Leech

Jonathan Leech is a woodturner working and living in Cumbria. He specialises in making bowls, dishes and platters from local sustainably sourced timber. Read more or about Jonathan or see a selection of his work.

Your comments

  1. Gravatar of Jonnie Crawford
    Jonnie Crawford3 October 2014 09:48

    Wow - that sycamore is absolutely stunning. Had a similar experience with a burr ash trunk years back, which was amazing. This looks very unusual indeed; I've certainly never seen such a large burr on sycamore.

    I'm envious - good luck!

  2. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech6 October 2014 09:30

    Hi Jonnie,

    I've nearly cut it all into blanks and can't wait to put them on the lathe. I love working with sycamore, as it is so easy to turn! Burr ash sounds incredible - I guess it's quite dark in colour?

    I'll keep you updated with photo's.

    Best wishes, Jonathan

  3. Gravatar of Donnie Macaskill
    Donnie Macaskill16 November 2014 21:14

    Hi I have never been lucky enough to come across any Sycamore that looks like that stunning to say the least

    cheers Donnie

  4. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech18 November 2014 08:59

    Hi Donnie,

    It was the first burr sycamore I've seen and possibly the only one I'll come across. I'll have to use the timber sparingly! Great website by the way - your natural edge pieces are stunning.

    Best wishes

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