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Mappa burl, from the European poplar trees (Populus nigra to be exact), has grown more and more popular.

It is often used in factory and after-market dashboards in both high-end and low-end applications. And it has always been used in luxury furniture and architectural applications.

The burl character is unique in the fact that it is more like an ingrown bark than the true burl seen in maple, madrona, walnut, Carpathian elm and other burls. Although it is a European species, it was grown on the West Coast by early Italian immigrants.

A burl is defined as a hard, woody outgrowth on a tree, more or less rounded in form, usually resulting from the entwined growth of a cluster of sporadically occurring buds.

While a burl might appear to be an unattractive growth on a tree, it’s often the site of some of the world’s most complex figures-and mappa burl is no exception. Mappa burl’s heartwood is generally a pale-to-medium-colored brown and the burls are little spots of reddish brown and black.

Because of  its figure, Mappa burl’s uses include furniture, panels and cabinetry. It is often used as an inlay for tabletops and other different types of furniture along with a variety of specialty items such as cigar humidors, jewelry boxes, picture frames and clocks.

Working with Mappa Burl

Mappa burl is easy to work with all tools but slow feeds are recommended for power tools, especially sharp surfaces are needed to overcome the burled surface irregularities. It should be dried slowly and with care as some surface checking may occur during drying. The wood glues well and takes screws and nails well.
Woodworkers can get a clean edge on the wood with a high-speed router for cleaner edges. Mappa burl also finishes well, taking all standard finishes. However, experts recommend filling small holes with wood paste or other filling material before finishing.

European poplars include a variety of Populus species, including Populus nigra, Populus Canadensis, Populus robusta and Populus tremula. However, Populus nigra is the only European poplar said to yield mappa burl.

Wood Specs

FAMILY NAME:
Populus nigra of the Family Salicaceae

COMMON NAMES:
Mappa burl, mapa burl, mapi burl, mapa maser, lupa de chopo, loupe de peuplier.

HEIGHT/WEIGHT:
The tree grows to average heights of 100 to 115 feet. Its weight averages around 28 pounds per cubic foot.

PROPERTIES:
Mappa burl should be dried slowly and with care. Experts report that some surface checking may occur during drying.
Easy to work with all tools, but slow feeds are recommended for power tools and especially sharp surfaces are needed to overcome the burled surface irregularities.

NUMERICAL VALUES:
Janka Hardness: 2,400
Crushing Strength: 5,540
 

Woodworking Network – Wood of the Month


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