Shou Sugi Plant




Introduction: Shou Sugi Plant

About: Endeavouring to be a jack of all trades...

Planter from an old piece of wood


You will need a few tools to do it easely:

-angle grinder (with metallic brush)

-drill (drill bit for holes in wood)

-blow torch, +/or fire place

-bucket of water, and leather gloves

-brushes (metallic and any other type)

-chisel (optional)

-a bit of clay

-flaxseed oil

A device to light a fire in, would also be a good thing.

Step 1: The Idea

As I was looking out of my window, staring at the field!

I noticed that the recent floadings had brought some big chunk of wood, and let it lie there in the grass.

That window happened to be the one where I have a bunch of suculent plants hanging in front of it, in various planters. Some of them ok, but most of them messy (temporarly stored, waiting for me to do something better).

Time had come then!

I decided to go check that piece of wood, see if I could do some kind of big planter with it.

Step 2: Drying, Cleanig, Burning:

As I lifted it up from the grass, I realised it was partially burnt, and had quite a lot of life relying on it.

So I cleaned it on the spot, getting most of the living beings of it.

Then I let it dry in the sun for a few days, also to give a chance for the remaining beings to leave!

Bark had to be removed, and after seeing that most of the wood (around 50%) was dead wood, I thought that I should digg into it as much as I could. Which I did, using the angle grinder.

And, since all of the wood that was not dead was burned, I figured I might aswell burn it all, as in the traditional japanese way of preserving wood for construction applications!


Once I judged it was enough removed, I started a fire in my "micro forge". (at this point I was pretty confident, that I had removed almost every form of life depending on that wood).

So now, the plan is to burn it all over in a sort of controlled way. Not getting to deep, so that the general shape was preserved! It involves having a bucket of water close by, to wet the edges frome time to time. (since my fire place is pretty small, I have to burn the all thing pieces after pieces, and as you do it some of the finer bits keep burning, while you burn the rest) As I say it, I realise that a small fire makes it probably easier to get a uniform burning.

To apply water while burning, I dipped my leather gloves in the bucket. You're then able to apply it safely by tapping it on.

Step 3: Brushing:

Since it is due to become a planter, you can't afford to have some lose bits of charcoal falling of every time you move it.

So it is all about brushing the burnt wood then!

Using a metallic brush, and then a smoother one to remove the dust created by the metallic one.

You will get a dark piece of wood, but not entirely black!

Step 4: Digging Holes for the Suculents:

I then had to figure where I wanted my plant to be on that piece o wood!

I marked it with shalk, and started digging. (using a drill bit and finishing/cleaning with a chisel)

I kept one suculent in its stone planter, so I shalked up the bottom of the stone, and chiseled a flat spot for it to sit!

Step 5: Trying to Preserve the Remaining Wood:

Once all holes had been digged, I wanted to make shure the wood would not be compromised by the watering of the suculents.

I therefore decided to burn the inside of the holes, and then apply some clay in them. I'm thinking it might help retaining moisture inside of the hole. So that the wood inside the planter doesn't rot back straight away.

(I applyied the clay by mixing it with water to make a paste)

For the outside of the planter I decided to apply flaxseed oil on it, so that the color goes back to the deep black of the freshly burnt wood. And it will also help preserving it (I think so...).

All that was left to do then, was to transfer the suculents into their new home!

Step 6: Result:

Step 7: Before/after

Feel free to suggest anything...

Especially technics to preserve dead wood. :)

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    Question 1 year ago on Step 5

    This is stunning! How has the wood lasted since you created this?


    Answer 1 year ago

    Wood has held pretty well.
    Some mold tried to grow on it at some point (probably due to air humidity), but I kept an eye on it, and burnt it. Never had an issue since!