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Finishing burr/burl woods

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JDGA fan, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. JDGA fan

    JDGA fan

    Oct 9, 2003
    Is there a way of finishing a burr/burrl wood facing (the kind with the little knots and defects) so that the finish does not sink into the wood over time and create the "moon crater" effect when viewed in certain light? Thanks.
  2. Proper pore filling with products that won't shrink should keep this from happening. Maybe Crystalac or some of the beaded fillers would do better. And you should always fill the larger voids with something more substantial or even graft in small pieces of the burl to fill these gaps before going to the finish stage. I've seen some pretty wild burl tops that were assembled from smaller pieces that interlaced together along natural break lines. Very difficult to tell where the seams were for the most part.
  3. Luke Sheridan

    Luke Sheridan Commercial User

    Dec 30, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    I build guitars and sell them. Strings, too
    A similiar question: If 1/4inch burl is used as a top, would a small bughole be a liability in terms of sound, stability?
  4. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    This is why burled woods are not really suitable for musical instruments. They lack stability not to mention the provide little sonic benefit.
  5. In this case though, the burl is used only as a top, not a structural piece. In solidbodies, I wouldn't hesitate to use a thin (¼" or thinner) piece on top of my main core. It's not likely to color the tone so much that I can't tweak it out with the rest of the electronics. That's for the really variegated burls. I'm building one now with a walnut burl top but the board was as stable and tone terrific as if it were quartersawn. It's going to depend on the wood
  6. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    If any burl is going to be a liability it's buckeye. The stuff has the texture and density of a wafer cracker except where the holes and bark and dirt and rocks are (I do my best to get those shored up before I sell the basses). You can't swing a dead cat these days without hitting a buckeye bass. I've built four of them and they all sound good.

    It's absolutely true for acoustic instruments (that burl is inadequate for stability, strength, and in most cases tonal properties), not so much for solid bodies.

    I guess that doesn't answer the original question. It will depend on the type of burl, I suppose, but I'm guessing it's hard to find a filler that can keep up with the way burl wants to absorb the finishes since the grain direction changes so much in burl.
  7. My instinct would be to fill and coat the burl with epoxy, but I'm not a builder so what do I know....

    Cheers Rody
  8. Grasshopper down at Bass Central builds a lot of burl top instruments and makes burl pickguards and other parts. That's what he does - literally encases the stuff in clear epoxy to keep it together.