Buckeye Burl (Aesculus californica) is an unusual species. Colors range from blue-black to golden whites with a nice mixture in between. Buckeye is a very difficult and expensive wood to mill. Some of the obstacles faced when milling are rocks, sand, dirt, bullets, and rattle snakes. Yes, rattle snakes inside the voids in the burl!
The Base of the tree (root wad) that is underground produces 90% or more of the burl. The burls can range from 50 pounds up to several thousand in their natural state. When converting a burl into usable wood there is usually between 60-75% waste. Buckeye is processed all the way down to half pen blanks to yield everything possible.
Buckeye is purchased in raw form by the pound and then trucked to our mill. About a third of the cost of milling is labor, followed by blades. When the wood dries it loses almost all of its weight. A block that weighed 7 pounds wet only weighs a little over a pound when it dried. This is why the burl is sold by the piece so that you get the best value.
Saleable Buckeye will commonly have bark incursions, live edges, and voids in burl eyes. These are commonly filled with crushed minerals or left as voids to add natural beauty in finished projects. If you are looking for defect free Buckeye you should limit the size to 12" or less and 3" wide or less in 1" thick material. If you need larger sizes pick another species or be prepared to work with and around voids and defects.
Although Buckeye is a hardwood it is much softer than many softwoods. With this in mind it is ideal to stabilize for knives and pens. Superglue can be used to do this for pens and can save a couple of dollars per pen over stabilizing. Buckeye is often used in decorative boxes and in Electric and Bass guitars. The amazing patterns & colors of this wood make it very popular.