Sunday, 20 November 2011

Birch Burl Kuksa Pt 1

Silver Birch Burl
Last week I went to assist a friend saw a rotten old tree down in the forest. On arriving I quickly spied a Burl at the top of the Birch. I assumed that because the tree was rotten the burl must be! However, once dropped we chained saw the burl to see a beautiful if not slightly wet spalted Birch burl. The first chance to have ago at a proper burl Kuksa.
Other side after cut lovey spalted birch.

I decieded to make my second Kuksa the first one that I had made was from Birch but from a roll of a log split in two. For a first attempt I thought it was not too bad although the walls of the Kuksa were thick and the bowl small. Anyway coming back too the Burl. Perhaps the hardest part of this project has been deciding from which parts of the burl the Kuksa would be carved from.

The under side after cutting waste away.
 Having chosen where the kuksa was coming from I set too taking the excess away and getting off all the old bark. The wood was surprisingly still sodden under the bark. The inside was solid wood which was a relief.

I marked out the shape that I wanted and started to get on with the boring bit of chiseling the large amount of waste from the centre of the work. Even from the beginning the colours and spalting of the burl are amazing. I just use an off cut of Hornbeam as a hammer I tend to find its perfect for this type of work. 

Mora single blade spoon knife.
The next stage is to start hand carving the bowl out using a bowl knife, I like the Mora single side knife its simple and tough. You can make out the shape of the planned bowl on the picture above.

Initial roughing out stage completed.

Underside of the Kuksa handle roughed in.

Side view.

I have left the sides of the cup walls quite thick at this stage and a heavy looking handle too. The next step for me is too boil the cup in salty water.  I boiled the little blighter for 2 hours using rock salt to try and eliminate any cracking during the long drying process.

It fizzed when I placed the cup in the boiling salt water

Towards the end of the process.
After  2 hours the cup sank in the water i assumed it was water logged and so impregnated with salt. The cup showed of all its beautiful colours when it was in the water. 

Looking a bit swollen, yucky and steaming hot

Once the cup had cooled off I started work on the inside of the bowl again it was like putting a knife through butter. The kuksa is now sitting in a plastic bag with the top open to allow the wood to dry very slowly.
It may well be many weeks for the wood to dry out before I start anymore work so we will call this the end of Part 1 for the moment.


  1. wow, that's beautiful, what's this about boiling in salt water, i've never seen anyone doing that before...

  2. The boiling and salting is primarily for non burl wood to help prevent the wood from splitting / checking. However, I tried it on the burl Kuksa and the work did not split and allowed me to carve thinner walls to the bowl,what can I say it seemed to work for me. Thank you so much for your kind comments.