Does burl wood need stabilizing?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by kdnolin, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. kdnolin

    kdnolin Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    I would be using maple and black walnut burls for hidden tang hunters and WA handles on kitchen knives.
  2. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    I strongly recommend it. Especially for kitchen use.
    Ian Fifelski and Ken H> like this.
  3. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    Burl is by nature a weaken wood so my thinking would be to stabilize also. Stacy or Ben Greenberg will chime in and give a definitive answer.
  4. mete


    Jun 10, 2003
    yes, note that the very high recoiling cartridge stocks are plain grain not fancy .That's because more complex grain has much more chance of cracking due to weird streesn the burl
  5. kdnolin

    kdnolin Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    I thought the grain might not be strong enough, but that guy on YouTube didn’t use stabilized burl....:eek:, I didn’t think it was a good idea, But I have a lot to learn yet.

  6. Greenberg Woods

    Greenberg Woods Wood Fanatic and Rosewood Addict

    Dec 27, 2013
    Not all burl needs stabilizing, but I would highly recommend it for Maple or Walnut
    Randydb likes this.
  7. E.Carlson


    Mar 28, 2016
    The only knives that I've had handle problems with have been unstabilized burl. I've decided it's not worth the risk.
    allenkey likes this.
  8. Grouser1741


    Apr 17, 2018
    So when you stabilize a piece of wood do you stabilize the block that you're going to make the handle from before you make the handle. Or do you get the handle carve down close to finish size and then stabilized?
  9. TRfromMT

    TRfromMT Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Jan 4, 2016
    Cut the block a little oversize. Make sure it is very, very dry and stabilize as a block. It will likely warp and twist a little in the stabilizing. Only shape AFTER stabilizing. After stabilizing you have to square it up and surface it to have parallel sides, then go about making your handle.

    I recommend not even cutting it into slabs for scales until after stabilizing, but that's just my preference.
    Ken H> likes this.
  10. hank_rearden


    Jun 7, 2002
    I asked this question years ago. The primary answer was that burl soaked in water expands in all directions. Straight grain is better by a long shot.
  11. Rose and Thistle Custom

    Rose and Thistle Custom Josh Mead Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 9, 2018
    I just did my first batch of woods to a stabilizing service (K&G), it's exciting to pick wood and send it off but also spendy. Until you have more experience picking I would recommend buying from someone like Greenberg because you know he'll set you up with something that'll work well.
    kdnolin and allenkey like this.
  12. Britt_Askew

    Britt_Askew Dealer / Materials Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Dec 9, 2010
    Straight grain would be less likely to have problems but its boring compared to burl. If you put a piece of natural burl in water it will swell in all directions but stabilizing the burl makes water absorption much much much less of a problem.
    The way I see it is if the burl will take stabilization it should be stabilized.
    M.McAlevy, kdnolin and Ken H> like this.
  13. Grouser1741


    Apr 17, 2018
    Do you guys think that the cactus juice, homemade stabilisation kit, is as good as a piece you get from a vendor?
  14. milkbaby


    Aug 1, 2016
    My opinion is that it depends on the wood and depends on the home stabilizer. As mentioned before, some woods will uptake the resin more easily than others, so you they may benefit less from the high pressures used by the big boys. On the other hand, what I've read is the big vendors use different formulation for different woods, something you don't get just using Cactus Juice, Gator Venom, or whatever other things are available commercially.

    This set of burl scales was dyed and stabilized by one of the two big companies always recommended here on the forum. Wood can still move even when stabilized by the gold standard companies.
  15. Greenberg Woods

    Greenberg Woods Wood Fanatic and Rosewood Addict

    Dec 27, 2013
    No. Its as simple as that.

    Ive done many tests, ive bought pieces stabilized at home, and I have had well over 1000 pounds done by K&G. The simple fact is that I have yet to find anyone with a home set up who can match the quality and consistency I get from K&G. Part of it is equipment, but the major factor is expereince and knowledge. Brad has been doing this for a long time. He knows what he is doing, and he does it very well.

    That is not to say stabilized wood is perfect. As the poster above me pointed out, stabilized wood can move. But you will get the best results either sending your wood to be professionally stabilized or by purchasing it from someone who does.
  16. Kevin McGovern

    Kevin McGovern

    Jul 31, 2015
    I do my own stabilizing of maple and even I agree with this. Unless you have the patience, time and money to do it right, just send it out. I personally enjoy it, and I have a pretty steady supply of figured maple, so I do it. I also mess around with a lot of double and triple dyeing. Not something easy to spec to someone else. If I have a large quantity of something or if it's something I know can be problematic like walnut, I send it to k&g.
    20190120_210616.jpg 20190122_180128.jpg 20190124_084454.jpg
  17. Grouser1741


    Apr 17, 2018
    Thank you guys so much for sharing.
  18. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    I have access to lots ofmaple burl and some other very nice looking figured wood. I toss it under my deck and let it dry for a year or two. Then cut it up into blocks around 1x1.5x5ish when I need a batch. I send off about 30 block to K&G and it has run me about $180 shipping included to get them stabilized....around $6/block. That's a pretty incredible price for very nice maple burl blocks. Here is some maple burl and butternut that I got stabilized at K&G. Good price, no messing around, good quality.
    IMG_0919 (2).jpg IMG_0921 (2).jpg
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
    kdnolin likes this.
  19. Kevin McGovern

    Kevin McGovern

    Jul 31, 2015
    On doing it yourself, it's much like being a hobbiest knife maker. Of course it's easier and usually cheaper to just buy a really nice knife. That's usually not the goal, as much as the process of making a knife is.
    Ken H> and kdnolin like this.
  20. anvilring


    Nov 29, 2000
    Randydb... how did you attach those files? Those pictures as a file? I can't find a button on the "post new thread" page to do that.

Share This Page