Here’s what’s cooking right now (redwood burl top for #33):

Burl and spalted wood is very brittle and full of imperfections. Normally, I cut grooves into my tops along with the bend, then steam the top simply over boiling water for 15 minutes, before clamping into shape and let cool and dry.

But initial trials with scrap wood of spalted walnut snapped and broke, whatever I tried. I studied the tips I could locate and ended up soaking the wood in water overnight as in the image above. I did not cut any grooves into the wood since this would weaken the wood further.

A nervous wait ensued. I then steamed the pre-soaked top (which was literally soaked all the way through) as usual and it turned out that the top became very easy to bend. I clamped it, and heard no snap!

Mission accomplished! But even after two full days of drying, it is still very wet. The shape seems pretty stable though, so now it is simply drying out, taped to another body.

Tomorrow, we’ll see how the burl behaves…


    • Actually, I have changed my process for doing this, based on a friend’s recommendation. I now wet an old t-shirt and use an old steam iron to heat the top, with the t-shirt in between. I keep pouring more water on the t-shirt as it dries up and only heat the underside of the top. After 10-15 minutes, it is really pliable and easy to bend.

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