The Mill Creek Red Maple Burl Story
First, we need a little history. We have been woodturning for almost ten years. When you start “becoming” a woodturner, there are several things you need to think about, questions you need to ask:
- How serious are you about this?
- Are you going to be at this for a while?
- How much money do you want to invest?
- Are you willing to learn to use dangerous tools?
- Where are you going to do this?
- Where are you going to learn to do this?
- How hard are you willing to work to do this?
- Where are you going to get the wood to do this?
This story is about Question No. 8. Where are we going to get the wood? There are several ways that we find wood. Wayne is not shy. In fact, he still embarrasses his adult son when he talks to strangers. Talking about what we do helps a lot. Having good friends in the classes we took helps. Being part of a network of woodturning groups helps.
Stalking people helps too. The term “stalking” has some bad connotations, but it fits what I did. It occurred to me one day while we were parking at Wal-Mart that we needed to find some people who cut wood for a living. Imagine that — go directly to the source. There was a truck and trailer in the parking lot loaded with cut wood. It had a tree service name and phone number on the side of the truck. Pat went into the store and I waited with a card describing what we do, hoping that the owner would come out and we could talk about where I might get some wood.
The discussion ranged from “what kind of wood do you want?” to “I have a chainsaw and can help if you let me”. Pretty much, the wood we are most interested in working with has some of the following words in its description:
- Osage Orange
- Ambrosia Beetle
Some wood simply does not work for us. The wood we do NOT seek has one of the following words in its description:
- Straight, plain, featureless grain
One day, we got a call from a tree service telling us that he had a tree in Mill Creek, north of Mebane, that he thought we would really like to have. It was red maple and covered in large burls (two of those descriptive words we like). He had already removed the limbs leaving a 2-foot diameter by 25-foot tall standing trunk. If we were interested, we should come immediately. We jumped in the F350 pickup truck and were amazed that he had waited until we got there so we could tell him where to cut the tree.
The sections of log were so big that we needed to “process” them on site to get them into small enough pieces to be able to load them into the truck. And then, we had to return the next day to pick up a second full load.
This was some of the prettiest burl we have ever had the pleasure to turn.