How to find rocks in a root burls

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Forum topic by bues0022 posted 12-06-2016 01:56 PM 1425 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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250 posts in 3695 days

12-06-2016 01:56 PM

I have a chunk of a root burl that I’ve been carrying around for the past 11 years (literally – I’ve moved 5 times). One reason I’ve never done anything with it is because I knew there were rocks in it. It came from the root ball of a big cottonwood tree I found up-ended after a storm on the banks of the Mississippi in Minneapolis when I was in grad school. I nicked a set of planer blades just squaring it up, and after that it just sat.

I had a very specific project I wanted to make, and this chunk of wood seemed like it would be perfect, if only I could figure out how many, and where the rocks are. Obviously a metal detector isn’t going to do me a lot of good on little pieces of granite, so now what?

I’m looking for differences in density – so what better than a CT (live X-ray)? I have access (through proper channels and safety considerations in mind) to have a colleague at work take an image for me. I know it’s rather overkill, but it did make for a really cool afternoon looking at this chunk of wood. He was getting the machine setup for another purpose and needed to take pictures of something – so it might as well be useful images for me, right?

Needless to say - I used a different piece of wood for now. Back to the pile it goes, waiting for something to spark my imagination (and not destroy tools).

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

22 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile


2756 posts in 2669 days

#1 posted 12-06-2016 08:24 PM

Really hard to understand your question because most people use a water hose or pressure washer to remove external mud & rocks clinging to roots. Most turners don proper PPE, mount the wood on the lathe and turn down until finding rocks then hand remove. Of course there is a danger on those rocks flying out as you turn but that is why keep lathe speed down. Other than stopping to resharpening the gouge and hand remove internal pebbles or rocks don’t see a big issue.

This video kind of points out proper steps to take.

If harvest your own wood for turning eventually going to find all kinds of hidden dangers buried within wood besides pebbles & rocks like nuts & bolts, electric insulators, nails, screws etc.

-- Bill

View bues0022's profile


250 posts in 3695 days

#2 posted 12-06-2016 08:52 PM

I guess this wasn’t so much a question, as a tongue-in-cheek explaination of how I was able to determine the internal structure (with respect to foreign objects) inside a nasty root burl. I thought it was kind-of cool, high tech, and way over-the-top.

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1310 days

#3 posted 12-06-2016 09:03 PM

you should have just titled your post “i x-rayed my root burl to find rocks” that way we wouldnt have to read it.

View chrisstef's profile


17973 posts in 3541 days

#4 posted 12-06-2016 09:10 PM

you should have just titled your post “i x-rayed my root burl to find rocks” that way we wouldnt have to read it.

- gargey

But you’d still read it and you’d still post an asinine comment.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View JADobson's profile


1446 posts in 2646 days

#5 posted 12-06-2016 09:31 PM

you should have just titled your post “i x-rayed my root burl to find rocks” that way we wouldnt have to read it.

- gargey

But you d still read it and you d still post an asinine comment.

- chrisstef

:) haha

Cool that you have access to that equipment.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View Jason Lester's profile

Jason Lester

47 posts in 1071 days

#6 posted 12-06-2016 09:56 PM

Oh great now I need a CT scanner in my woodshop….Honey….I need another tool…..


Cool video. hurts banging up blades for sure.

-- Jason

View bues0022's profile


250 posts in 3695 days

#7 posted 12-06-2016 11:00 PM

you should have just titled your post “i x-rayed my root burl to find rocks” that way we wouldnt have to read it.

- gargey

Really? If you’re really that upset about this, don’t comment and turn your computer off. Besides, had I titled my post what you suggested, I would have opted for correct spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Just go away.

I’m glad others thought it’s also kinda cool to look at!

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3838 days

#8 posted 12-07-2016 08:00 AM

maybe someone could start a business, send them your burl and get a report back as to what and where….or maybe we could put our burl on our printers and scan them, and it would print where the rocks are….hey ive got time to think here…….or borrow your neighbors cat and get a cat scan…..more to come…hold on….LOL

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 2831 days

#9 posted 12-07-2016 12:39 PM

Cool! Some day everyone will have a Chicago Electric CT Machine in their garage. With a free 5×7 tarp thrown in with the coupon.

View Wildwood's profile


2756 posts in 2669 days

#10 posted 12-07-2016 01:37 PM

Oh, okay I see now your so proud of x-raying your root and finding rocks! Now just want to figure out how to get your rocks off somehow.

Good luck with it!

-- Bill

View bondogaposis's profile


5553 posts in 2886 days

#11 posted 12-07-2016 02:15 PM

No solution that I know of, I once ruined a perfectly good chainsaw chain while carving up a root wad from a fallen cedar. There were tons of sand and stones embedded right into the wood, far more than I thought. I eventually used the root as “landscaping” and never touched a tool to it again.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5228 posts in 4495 days

#12 posted 12-07-2016 03:38 PM

Some folks just get their rocks off by posting abrasive and damaging comments. Get it?
That’s my smart a$$ comment for the day.
I just always found the rocks and other crap with newly sharpened carbide blades. Makes for an exciting time in the shop.

-- [email protected]

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5796 posts in 3028 days

#13 posted 12-07-2016 04:57 PM

I’ve done it the way Bondo described…used my chainsaw. Probably still cheaper (but not as cool) as a CT machine.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1434 days

#14 posted 12-07-2016 05:46 PM

The easiest way would be to start cutting, you find them right away.
(There could be 1 small pebble, and I would hit it.)
Unfortunately, it’s not the best way.

It would be pretty cool to be able to x-ray stuff though,
I’m not sure I would x-ray my wood….

View Stevedore's profile


98 posts in 2560 days

#15 posted 12-07-2016 05:59 PM

That’s pretty cool; nice that you have access to that equipment. And at least the rocks aren’t growing, as the usual things looked for with a CT scan might be…

-- Steve, in Morris County, NJ

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