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DIY Burnt Wood Bar tops

3 wood samples, from left to right:  oak, pine & poplar

3 wood samples, from left to right:  oak, pine & poplar

Wanting to create something unique for the Surfaces in our restaurant, I discovered the Japanese art of wood burning Shou Sugi Ban ....  I tried out several woods, but I found that Pine responded well with the dark and light play of the grain.  ...  Other woods respond in different ways.  The all-over silvery black of oak could be a great treatment in some applications, so it's good to experiment with different woods to see how they respond.

Traditional Shou Sugi Ban is somewhat different than the technique I went with.  Wood treated in this traditional manner is all black and considerably charred.  This method helps to weather proof and make the wood less prone to fire damage and keeps away rot and insects.  I'm fascinated by this application.  The one I used ended up more decorative, and I love the way it accentuated the grains.

Using a blow-torch, I stood in our snowy backyard and let the flame glow and dance into the patterns of the wood grain.  Some areas I used a lighter hand and some zones I let get hot with red embers flickering.  

The bar is mid-construction here.  The wood for this bar was stained a natural color to let the burnt grain pattern stay visible down the length of it.

The bar is mid-construction here.  The wood for this bar was stained a natural color to let the burnt grain pattern stay visible down the length of it.

The "smart bar" was stained in a deeper mahogany tone.  Scorched areas are visible with the reflections from the light. 

The "smart bar" was stained in a deeper mahogany tone.  Scorched areas are visible with the reflections from the light.