Burning Lumber as a Finishing Technique

Posted by Bill Esler | Posted: 08/08/2013 1:32PM


click image to zoomShou Sugi Ban Delta Millworks charred lumber   Delta Millworks, Austin, TX lumber supplier, calling it as "the wood version of weathering steel (the oxidization of steel to provide a protective barrier)" offers lumber treated using the Japanese tradition of shou-sugi-ban.

"Burning cedar or some other wood gives it a charcoal barrier that is rot and fire resistant ... and very distinctive looking," Delta Millworks says. It offers more than two dozen finishes and degrees of burn in a variety of wood species.

Used on fencing and other exterior surfaces, the charred lumber also has fans for interior wood applications. A website devoted to the Shou Sugi Ban technique shows a fireplace surround built in burned wood.

"Traditionally, Sugi, or Japanese Cyprus, was used. Nowadays, designers and architects have used other species of wood like Douglas Fir, Cyprus, and Oak. The process involves charring the wood, cooling it, cleaning it, and finishing it with a natural oil," says the website.

click image to zoomDelta Millworks Shou Sugi charred lumber


About the Author

Bill Esler, Woodworking Network, WMS

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Editorial Director, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for overall content at WoodworkingNetwork.com Woodworking Network magazine, and related newsletters. Bill also manages event programs for Woodworking Network Live conferences at the Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo in Toronto and Cabinets & Closets Expo. He developing audience engagement programs using custom digital printing, live lead-generating events, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at besler@woodworkingnetwork.com or follow him on Google+.

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Oregon  |  August, 15, 2013 at 10:31 AM

I find it amazing you would consider a burned finish on wood as new. Approx. 40-years ago I built a shop cabinet using a a propane torch to burn only the softwood then using steel wool clean the wood and then applying a clear coat. The pictures (not good) look like boards from a burned barn. No class in his process.

Bill Esler    
Lincolnshire IL  |  September, 19, 2013 at 04:18 PM

That's right - the technique originated in Japan and is said to be 300 years old, principally done in Cedar. Did you come up with this on your own 40 years ago, Bill?


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