Lovely oak burrs...

17 January 2015, Woodturning in practice, Would you like to leave a comment?

I’ve just acquired this selection of oak burrs, which I discovered at the local sawmill. One of them is quite large, measuring 28" across. These will be rough turned quite soon - hopefully I’ll be able to finish them for next Christmas!

The largest of the three...


I intend to remove the bark, so that the knots and swirls can be seen. This is usually quite tricky, since the sap tends to ‘glue’ it in place. In the past, I’ve resorted to shot blasting, or spent an hour with a screwdriver and mallet, however this is a little too rough for my liking and can often break off the spikes.

However, I've just found a new technique, which takes advantage of the winter weather. The timber which I've had lying around in the rain, only seems to require a couple of heavy frosts before the bark comes away quite easily. After a quick pressure wash, the burr is free from bark and all the spikes are visible.

These burrs have been outside for a couple of weeks now and the bark is already becoming loose and brittle – it’s a shame this method only works in winter!...

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 Richard Pyle
    Richard Pyle20 January 2015 22:29

    I just found your blog, love your work! I'm pretty new at turning but I appreciate what you're doing. I saw the article about the splitting cherry bowls and wondered if you've that about doing inlay of crushed stone and/or colored epoxy? I've had a couple of small bowls that developed cracks and I filled them w/ crushed turquoise which really looked nice.

  2. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech26 January 2015 16:53

    Hi Richard,
    I'm so pleased you like my work - it's great to hear you've started turning and the idea with crushed stone sounds excellent. I've not yet tried this technique, but will give it a go some point soon. Do you mix the stone with epoxy, or purchase it as a kit?

    Best wishes, Jonathan

  3. Gravatar of Richard Pyle
    Richard Pyle26 January 2015 19:22

    You mix it with the epoxy, if so I mix it w/ one part to get it mixed in well and then add the second part to activate it. You can also use ca (super glue) instead of epoxy. If using ca use the thin & if a thick crack you might need to do it in layers as the ca doesn't always soak in. I prefer epoxy because of that. I made my own stone crusher out of a piece of threaded water pipe aprox 12" by 1 1/2" dia. with a threaded end cap. I took a threaded rod that fit 2 large nuts that just fits into the pipe and tightened them together at the end of the rod. I also used epoxy to secure the nuts & seal the space between the threads. You can get turquoise in chunks but I found it cheaper in a craft store as beads. You can also find quartz, malachite, coral, etc as beads that can be crushed and much cheaper than you can find online.

  4. Gravatar of Richard Pyle
    Richard Pyle26 January 2015 19:33

    I forgot you can also use brass shavings you get from anywhere they copy keys. I just ask for the shavings at the local hardware store I frequent. You can use them by themselves or mix with the stone. Either way it's a great way to save a piece w/ cracks instead of putting them in the burn pile.

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