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steam-dried fresh burlwood


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since some people have written about how Sami people and others cook their fresh and wet woods in broth for hours here is a more modern way to do it:

I used the steam cooker we got as a wedding present aeons ago: so

put in three or four centimeters of water, pour in some salt (a tablespoonfull)

stack the fresh cut pieces of wood into it,

close the lid, use full power steam position

cook for five to six hours

let out the steam (be carefull, it is really hot! B) )

cool the lid with cold water before opening

get the pieces out and gently poor away the "broth"

if you want you can put the woodpieces into the oven (I used our ventilated on at 50°C) for another five hours

and look what you've got:

I have shown my latest burl in the Bloomery section http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=19980&pid=187303&st=0entry187303 in #10

here are the newest pics:

light wood is still fresh and wet

the darkened piece was in the cooker and I sanded it a bit and gave it a hint of oil to show the new look:

burl2 (1).JPG

burl2 (3).JPG

burl3 (5).JPG

burl3 (2).JPG

burl2 (4).JPG

burl2 (5).JPG

burl3 (3).JPG

Edited by Jokke


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Very good to know Jokke....a quick websearch brought up this:



So I guess I'll try this on my next green batch of wood.



Richard Furrer

Door County Forgeworks

Sturgeon Bay, WI

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Interesting...The mills which process briarwood for pipemaking boil the rough-cut blocks of fresh root burls for 12 hours in at least one change of water, then allow to air dry for several months. This process removes the bitter resins inherent in briar root burls and also stabilizes the wood, usually resulting in very few cracks and checks in the dry blocks.


I never thought about doing it to other woods, but I will now! B)

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Interesting topic and good find Ric. Jokke, does your steam method change the color of the wood, both raw and under your favorite finish. Do you get any color staining from darker woods to lighter ones. Just curious, now and then I luck into some interesting woods that are fresh cut.


Thanks much, Craig

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Sorry I am a bit late in answering! The colour does change indeed mostly into a few shades darker than before, as can be seen on the last two pictures. Since I use tungoil for most of my finishes it kind of fits the image to me, mabe I will combine the more darkened wood with a bright Finish burl-birch. I do not boil different woods in one charge though. So far I boiled up about 15 pieces from that burl (years ago I used the same method on a piece of pear-root with burls in it with good resuts)and all seem to be in a good shape - I did not think about putting them into a paper bag, like that "boiling" link says. The steamed wood does not seem to need that, since the wood does not take up any water in the highpressure steam system. It is the hot steam that brings the water inside to boiling temps and so it is driven out of the woods cells. It might well be that any places with tiny branches would show a tendency to fall out, when dried, but this burl does not have any "branch"-like structures in it, it is all swirls and nice lines.

I am taking the stuff to the workplace of a friend and sand them on a sanding machine, then I will show more pics...

Edited by Jokke


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  • 2 weeks later...

here are some more pics

f after the drying and after a short sanding to show the figures in the wood

I like it -and will use some of it soon...

on the first three pics I used some alkoholrub to show the lines better









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  • 2 years later...

Hi folks,

I used this method again on some oak-burl I got from a friend

works very fineholzkochen(5).JPG




from this lot:





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Thank you for posting that method very handy...do you see a lot of distortion such as sweling. It sure beats pushing the microwave start butting 100 times.



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Useful information, thank you.



“All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.” Kahlil Gibran

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them." - Alfred Adler

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  • 2 years later...

well there has been some distortion, in pieces that had lots of cracks, Jan

but still it is the fastes method that I have found, where the pressure helps to keep the wood in form

oak is different, because of all the acids in it...

it is even hard to stabilize after drying it this way..




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I have been boiling pieces usually precut for hidden tang handles. I use an old pressure cooker, bring it to a boil and keep it boiling 15 minutes or so, then let it sit for 1hour + until cool enough to handle. After removing, I wrap each in cardboard or brown paper bags and let the moisture soak away. Sometimes I'll place these in a hot car and let them sit for days in the cardboard/paper. I do believe the moisture leaves but the cells remain intact. I've had good results and stuff that's been dried and aged on the shelf. I think steaming is probably equal or even better perhaps and will try it also.


Gary LT

"I Never Met A Knife I Didn't Like", (Will Rogers)

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