The hardest thing in kuksa carving is finding the burl. Or better: finding the RIGHT burl.
In northern countries this might be quite an easy job. Burls are very common on birch, for example.
If you're spending a lot of time in southern spots the task becomes a bit more complicated, and almost impossible if you're looking for THAT species in particular like me.
I wanted to make my first kuksa in olive. Hundreds of trees I inspected before - after three years (!) - finding my luck on a dead olive tree in the outback of south France.
The first pictures are from the dead tree and so the one who served to make this kuksa, the second series are from a truly alive 'n very kicking tree where I could harvest two beautiful burls. In full city center, no kidding!!!
When you're cutting off a burl from a tree that's still alive, make sure to harvest it properly. Use a handsaw, make a proper cut and put a lot of woundcare (pine tar is perfect) on the wound. The wound will heal, and the tree will live as before.
- DON'T FORGET TO CUT THE BASE OF THE BURL, this part will serve as handle!!!
- TRY TO HARVEST IN SUMMER OR AUTUMN! During wintertime the sapstream slows down and the wound will heal a lot slower - opening the door to infections. In summer & autumn the tree is at full power and with the help of the pine tar the wound will heal quickly.
Fresh wood is softer and thus easier to carve than dried wood. If you don't have the time to carve the burl immediatly, cover it with bees wax or polyurethane glue to slow the drying process. Fast drying will surely split the wood, and destroy the burl. Let it dry in a well ventilated place for a few months up to a year - until the day you'll decide that it's ready to go.
NOTE: If you're working with a 'fresh' burl, don't forget to store it in a plastic bag every time you take a break, just to avoid splitting, again.