Turn Your Wood Knots into Can Do’s

Wood knots

Work Your Wood Knots into Woodworking Art.

Woods knotsWoods knotsWoods knots

Wood has long been used as an artistic medium. It has been used to make sculptures and carvings for millennia. Examples include the didgeridoo carved by Australian indigenous people from local species such as the gum tree.

A definition of woodworking is found at HERE.

Making and Decorating wood boxes is one example of this art.


wood knots

Along with stone, clay and animal parts, wood was one of the first materials worked by early humans. Microwear analysis of the Mousterian stone tools used by the Neanderthals show that many were used to work wood. The development of civilization was closely tied to the development of increasingly greater degrees of skill in working these materials.

So many wood knots can be made into top selling wood art and home decor. Knots are visible imperfections in wood grain that are circular and darker than the surrounding area. When a board is cut vertically from a tree trunk, the knot will resemble a circle of abnormal wood that was once the base connection of a branch to the tree trunk but has been grown around by the rest of the grain. Knots can be used in driftwood art as well.

The knot itself will not be physically weak, but a knot causes weakness in the surrounding wood because it disrupts the flow of the grain. The grain distorts around the knot and the deviation is the source of the weakness. The greater the distortion the greater the weakness.

A burl is a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It is usually found on the trunk, at the base of the tree, and sometimes underground in the form of a rounded outgrowth. It is caused by some kind of stress, such as injury, virus, fungus, insect infestation or mold growth.

Burls result in a uniquely patterned wood art, which is highly prized for its beauty. It is valued and sought after by artists, furniture makers and sculptors. Burl wood can be found in many tree species and is used in making furniture, different types of veneer, inlays, turning wood, gun stocks, music wood, and other household items.

Other uses of wood in the arts include:

  • Woodcut printmaking and engraving
  • Wood can be a surface to paint on, such as in panel painting
  • Many musical instruments are made mostly or entirely of wood
  • Driftwood art such as sculptures are sculptures that are made of driftwood found on beaches or along riverbanks.  At Kullaberg, Sweden, Lars Vilks created Nimis a driftwood artwork in the year 1980.

This sculpture and two others led to the declaration of Ladonia as an independent nation. Sculptures were created on the Emeryville, California mudflat and marsh area of San Francisco Bay in the late 1960s.

The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy (sometimes called the “Green Oscars”) are sculpted out of driftwood. Artist Deborah Butterfield is known for her sculptures of horses, initially rendered from driftwood before being cast in bronze.


Wood knots
Don Kelly looks at a variety of table legs, balusters and other items he has turned in his work shop in Plainfield.

For more than 40 years, Don Kelly has worked alone at his business, Blueberry Woodworks. Yet if this has done anything to stunt his productivity, you wouldn’t know it.

From his workshop in the hills of Plainfield, Kelly, a wood turner and carver, has produced items ranging from artisanal bowls, to balusters to miniature items used in dollhouses.

Kelly’s shop is packed full of machines, wood, finished pieces and tools that in some cases date to the 19th and early 20th century.

“The place is somewhat chaotic, I say, because it’s a wood-turning shop,” he said.

Kelly’s workshop is an old wheelwright’s shop and, like his attached home, it dates back to the late 18th century.

“I love it,” said Kelly, who said that he feels the presence of those who’ve worked in the space before him.

Kelly first moved into the home he shares with his wife in the late 1970s.

wood knots

“We came here for the warm climate and the cosmopolitan atmosphere,” he joked during an interview in his shop last week.

He started his wood-turning business in 1979, initially focusing on creating bowls and sculptures. Wood turning involves taking a piece of wood and shaping it as it rotates on a lathe.

The grain in wood can be art in itself. Wood Knots can be made into high end products with fine woodworking skills. Here are some other articles that may be of interest to you.

Ageless Trinket Box



10 thoughts on “Turn Your Wood Knots into Can Do’s

  1. The wood decor is an exciting topic, the wood I love it; it’s not an everyday topic. The wood decor is an old yet visually appealing thing in this modern day. The content od the topic is not easy to understand is like science textbook and need time to understand, maybe try to simplify the content and main point in the post, but overall the topic still grabs my attention to reading it. I would like to know more about wood and wood decor, beautiful work there.

    1. Thanks you for taking time to comment. Yes I know what you mean about the science language. I’ll work on it. Thank you for your kind words… cheers Jen

  2. Wow. For me this is the first time I see such an amazing art. Creating these sculptures in trees is a brilliant idea and certainly very difficult. I look at that owl and everything seems very real. I think if the trees in the forests or in the parks had each carved such animals everything would be much fascinating. I would like to ask you, can I buy this kind of art online? I would put something like that in my garden. Thanks and keep in touch! 

    1. Thank you kindly. Yes there will be a shop on this site soon. I’m just sourcing the right merchants. I will stay in touch. All the best. Cheers Jen

  3. You can fix knots using epoxy. It’s a simple and quick process. You can find epoxy in every wood shop. Using epoxy to repair a knot in wood can turn an otherwise useless board into a workable piece. 

    Th bbest product that can give the best result for filing knots with epoxy is casting resin. 

    1. Thank you for the feedback. Yes resin is great with wood and will be the topic of discussion soon. Thank you

  4. Many thanks to you for sharing the wonderful article with us .Wood has long been used as an artistic medium for sculpture and engraving .One of my furniture explained to me how beautifully crafted wood imperfections are as a top wood industry and home decor. Knots driftwood art can be used beautifully .The fruit of the burl  is naturally made of wood art which is extremely valuable for its beauty. Artists, furniture makers and sculptors find it valuable and inventive .Burl wood is used in making various types of veneers, inlays, turning wood, gun stocks, music wood and other household items. Also in art, sculpture is used a lot .I will turn my Can Knots into Can Do Woodworking Art in the future and will definitely share my new experience with you. 

  5. As a art lover, I enjoyed reading your article, actually had to google the didgeridoo, I wish had more mentions or images I or other art lovers would have been entertained and more informed via this well written piece. 

    I am not an artist myself, but this article is quite informative for both wood artists and for people like me who can derive read this from a different perspective. As am sure there are those who may not be seeing the possible beauty that can come from a wood that has or had some defects.

    Thanks for putting this together.


    1. Thank you Christine, Yes I agree more images would be better. I get a bit concerned about copyright,,so I am gathering my own unique picture from artist around my area who do woodwork. I thoroughly enjoy visiting them and getting more creative in the near future. All the best to you. Thank Jen

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