Making a Burl Bowl




About: Hi. My name is Caleb. I am a guy who likes to make things. My all time favorite thing to do is blacksmithing, and knife making. I also enjoy wood working, beekeeping. I like making things the old fashion way...

This is my first Instructable, so please forgive any of my mistakes.

I recently Stumbled across a Burl here on the farm. I am pretty sure that it is elm, witch I do not like working with. But burls are normally quite hard so it did not matter much in the end.

Step 1: Tools

Things you will need.

  • rotary/Dremel tool
  • wood carving bit
  • Carpenters chisel
  • Hammer
  • Sand paper 60-120 grit
  • a large drill bit, I used a 3/4 spade bit

I had contemplated on the ways of carving it out, due to the fact that it is quite hard. I settled on useing Rotary tool with a wood carving bur for the majority of the shaping. And chisel to chip out large peaces.

Step 2: Holowing It Out

This burl has a hard center, the rotary tool works but I took my chisel and hammer and chipped out the center until I could get a good start with the rotary tool.

I Started with the rotary tool going around the center over and over in till I had a ring about 1/2 of an inch deep.

One thing with the burl was that there was tracks from wear a wood worm had eaten. This made it a little harder to carve, becasue every time I got it smooth the worm tracks would show up. And I would have to take more wood away.

Step 3: The Culprit

This little worm showed up. And it is what caused me so much work in making this. The tracks it left behind made the bowl very hard to carve. but in the end he made a tasty treat for out Chickens.

Step 4: The Drilling

Keep carving until you end up with something like this.

Then I took the drill bit and drilled A few holes in the center. Just to speed up the whole process.

After you have the holes drilled, go back with the rotary tool and start smoothing out the inside.

Step 5: Sanding

I starting sanding the inside of the bowl, and I decided to not sand all of the marks out of it. I liked the look that they added to the bowl over all. I really focused on the edges, getting them rounded and smoothed out a little. I like to try to keep things as natural as they were, and not take to much of the character away.

Step 6: Finishing

I made this bowl for more on a novelty piece. I was not planing on useing it for food. but if you waned to I would recommend to get a food safe wood finish. I settled on useing Danish oil, witch worked fine. But I would advise not eating out of it.

If you would like to see some other things I make, Here is my website. I am still working on it but some of my things are there.

Step 7: The End

Over all I liked how it turned out. I would like to thank every one who has looked at my instructable. I would apreacate any comets,criticism,and questions.

Caleb Stephens



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    8 Discussions


    Question 8 months ago on Introduction

    hi! I'm getting a burl cut today! I've read a little about how green, dried, and seasoned wood all react a bit differently to carving. I'm excited to get started, but certainly don't want to mess up this piece from my beloved locust tree- What would you recommend I should do before starting in on carving?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I recently learned how expensive and sought after this type of wood is. The bowl looks great very rustic looking, thanks for sharing!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    do you know if there are any things to consider if you are using different woods? I have some birch burls I want to play with.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    do you know if there are any things to consider if you are using different woods? I have some birch burls I want to play with.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    this is a great instructable. I love it. I like how you kept the tool marks it gives good character. I usually sand my stuff a lot but I like the look of that more natural look also

    I will be posting something today that I made out of elm, and I thought it was great to work with but its the first time I have. I used mineral oil and coconut oil on my cup, but I am really looking for a finish that will penetrate, but then harden so you can get a nice shine. I heard that salad bowl finish does that?

    If anyone knows of some penetrating and hardening finish, please share.


    4 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this! That bowl has a lot of character.

    If anyone was curious, Walnut oil is a great food safe finish for wood products.