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How to Sell Whole Black Walnut Burls

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Things You'll Need:

  • Photographs and measurements for the burl
  • Fine Woodworking Magazine classified ad copy
  • List of woodworking and woodturning clubs
  • List of custom furniture builders
  • List of architectural woodworkers
  • List of charities for donation to auction

You’ve just found a beautiful black walnut burl deep in your woods. With considerable effort, you removed it from the dead tree and carried it home. The burl is easily a foot across, and exhibits characteristic brownish swirls and patterns. This is clearly a magnificent piece of wood that could be crafted into some spectacular wooden creations. Because this fine walnut burl is so special, you want to take some extra time to sell it.

Photograph, measure, and price the walnut burl. Because the photograph may help to sell the burl to distant buyers, devote some time to lighting, backdrop, and camera settings. Take several shots from different angles, and choose the one that best displays the character and luminosity of the wood.

Measure the burl as precisely as possible, given its irregular shape. The photograph and measurements will comprise the package that you will present to potential buyers. Since it is possible that you will need to transport or ship the burl, find a sturdy box and carefully pack the burl to avoid damage in transit.

Finally, assign a price to the burl. Since each burl has its own distinctive features, the burl will have more value than a similarly sized piece of lumber.

Advertise in a premier woodworking magazine. Fine Woodworking Magazine (both print and online versions) is widely read by a large portion of the woodturning universe. In fact, Fine Woodworking publisher Taunton Press notes that for the six months ended June 30, 2009, average monthly magazine circulation was 227,000.

Place a classified ad (including a photo) in the print edition of Fine Woodworking Magazine. You can also place a classified ad on the Fine Woodworking website.

Market the burl to woodworkers and woodturners. For a wood enthusiast, finding an intact wooden burl is equivalent to finding a whole jar full of his favorite cookies. If you know of local woodworking or woodturning clubs, show off the burl at their meetings. To locate a club in your area, visit the Fine Woodworking Club Directory.

Market the burl to custom furniture builders. Black walnut wood is used for custom tables, chairs, and smaller accent pieces. Custom furniture builders might use a burl as the centerpiece of a larger table; the craftsman might also cut the burl into thin slices, or veneers. These veneers are used as finish layers for already-constructed pieces.

Market the burl to architectural woodworkers. Contact craftsmen who create custom mantels, moldings, and handcrafted trims for upscale homes and businesses. A list of these custom woodworkers can be found through the Architectural Woodwork Institute.

Take the burl to a charity auction. Although an unconventional option, donating the burl to a worthy cause can be a “win-win” for everyone. Before you commit to the donation, however, check with your tax advisor to see if this is your best option.

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