Tetraclinis articulata (syn. Callitris quadrivalvis) of the family Cupressaceae
A very short conifer from Western North Africa. It grows mostly in mountainous regions and the tree itself is of little interest and hardly worth dragging down off the mountains, BUT ... the root burl is fabulous and has now been so heavily overharvested that Morocco bans its export (Thuya Burl is considered something of a national treasure in Morocco). The trunk wood is seldom seen and is just a fairly bland cedar-looking wood. The burl is widely prized for jewlery and turned objects. It often looks a lot like redwood burl (vavona).
The tree has the characteristic of regenerating from the roots after being burned in a fire and as a consequence, the root burl on many trees is huge compared to what you would expect from such a modest sized tree and have weighed in at as much as 1,000 lbs.
Thuya burl carves, turns, and polishes well. Being a burl, it has the common problem of tearout, but sharp tools produce good results. The color of the burl darken over time, losing some of its orange-red tint.
my samples: NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K) colors will vary under other lighting conditions
both sides of a plank of thuya burl / Tetraclinis articulate --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. For more detail on this piece, see the sample directly below
both sides of a plank of thuya burl / Tetraclinis articulate --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This sample is from the plank directly above. The second side is also shown moistened for the pic. This was a thin piece so no end grain shots.
The first side of this piece was sanded to 400 grit and MAN was that difficult. This piece gummed up sanding pads almost immediately. I asked on Wood Barter and other folks have not had that problem with thuya burl, so I'm not sure what was going on but it was a mess.
two burls that showed up on eBay. As I recall, the one on the left went for several humdred dollars, probably to become an absolutely stunning gunstock. Both of these are from the vendor that I use thoughout this site to show how badly wood can be misrepresented on the Internet, so I doubt the color.
two views of another burl, also from the vendor that badly misrepresents color
burl slab pairs (probably for knife handles)
knife handle scales
misc burl pieces listed as thuya / Tetraclinis articulata
burl turning sticks / pen blanks / turning stock
bookmatched scales cut from burls
bookmatched sets cut from burls
burl veneer all from the same vendor
matched pair of thin wood laid out for a guitar back
both sides and a closeup of a thuya burl plank --- fairly rare; the burl pieces are usually sold as chunks so as not to waste any by cutting some off
slab and closeup
product web pics
bowl (regular wood, not burl)
3 nested burl bowls; bottom bowl is 7 inches in diameter
2.5" diameter "box" and 3" diameter "box"
letter holders, one burl and one more plain wood with small areas of burl
thuya burl pen
pen turned from thuya / Tetraclinis articulata. Photograph contributed to the site by the pen turner, Bruce Selyem, whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The pen is finished with shellwax.