Burl wood graining

pierre woodgraining

Here is a quick step-by-step for burl wood graining.

For a small sample like this one, I used a slow-dry glaze mixed with the same amount of matte medium.  With a domed glazing brush, I glaze on a mixture of  vandyke brown, burnt umber, and transparent iron oxide (killer color from Proceed by Golden).  Glaze a little on the heavy side.


With the same brush, stipple the fresh glaze to create a even, rough texture.

stipple glaze

From a palette, add vandyke brown and black to your mother glaze and add these large, random dots.   Here, you are creating clusters of burl.

add dark values

Now, this can be tricky.  Use a very soft sea sponge.  Take a small piece and rip the edges of the sponge to create a fringes, almost like the fingers of a hand.  Wet the sponge and ring it out after each section.  The action is a combination of a drag, roll, skip, and flip to create the flame-like effect.  You’re working around the dark clusters but leaving areas untouched.  Keep the flow and direction on our mind.

sea sponge

after sponging

Soften your work with a badger softener.  Soften in the direction of the flames, avoiding the dark clusters.


Let the surface tack up but not dry.  Using a soft veiner that is wet with water.  Go back into the clusters and add veins as seen below.  This is a negative technique.

negative technique

Lightly soften to achieve this look.


On your palette, mix your mother glaze with water and add burnt umber and transparent iron oxide to create a watery mixture of color.  Using a tooth veinette, create this trembly series of veins.


Load the tooth veinette with the mixture, run it through a metal comb, and with a light hand, create this effect.  The veins should be perpendicular to the clusters and should not overlap.



Let dry.  Using a fine pointed brush, add tiny dots within the clusters.  Don’t go overboard.

painting dots

end of step 1

Let dry.  Make a glaze of burnt umber and transparent iron oxide, which will be a bright, transparent glaze.  Glaze all over and stretch with a spalter to even out the glaze.


stretched glaze

Using a size 80 or 100 spalter, create moire’s, perpendicular to the marks of the tooth veinette.  Soften lightly.


Using a flat brush like a skunk brush or large flat, create additional moires in a zig-zag formation.  Lightly soften.


Voila! finished.


In this particular sample, I added a quick trompe l’oeil effect so the sample would look like a piece of baseboard.

with trompe l'oeil

This woodgrain technique may seem like a lot of steps — and that would be true.  But, burl is a very rare specimen so it will pay off if you can make your burl realistic.   Burl up!



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  1. Pam Dickerson says:

    What a fabulous documented lesson in burl wood graining. This took a lot of time to capture it in the different stages. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  2. Raul cobos says:

    Hank you for sharing,ive bein looking for samples like this for a few years. Youve bein blessed with this talent. Thank you again. Do you have videos also?

  3. Mike Wranesh says:

    Nice work Pierre
    Great craftsmanship
    Detail with speed as well.
    Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

  4. Thanks so much Pierre! I appreciate the time you put into this very informative demo. It’s so good to see the steps outlined like this by a master. I will keep it in mind on my next graining job. Thanks

  5. Mr Finkelstein does it again.!!

    Brilliant work as always !!

    Keep it up mate !!..

    Karl Spencer.

  6. We are all so lucky to learn from a true master Thank you.

  7. Great stuff as usual. Thank you for taking the time to make this for us to enjoy and learn from.

  8. Pierre
    Thanks for the lessons, I will practice this technique until I am proficient. Of all the faux finishes I enjoy wood graining the most. I look forward to your emails and videos. Keep them coming!


  9. Ward Malnak says:


    thank you!
    You’re an inspiration.


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