Redwood Burl Slabs
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Redwood Slab Origins
Redwood purchased for Rockler comes from Mendocino County, CA, an area amongst the most heavily logged redwood forests. However, this material does not come from live trees; it comes from enormous stumps left from logging.
The bottommost 5-15 ft. of a redwood tree that flares out is called a buttress. This formation is typical of rainforest trees (the Northern California coast is a temperate rainforest, getting over 200 inches of rain a year). The redwood buttresses were not useful to timber companies, so they were left to rot. However, redwood logs don't rot, and, due to their thick, insulating bark, don't burn very well either. These stumps continue to be visible in every redwood forest, well over a century after the trees were cut down.
Nature, however, does try and recycle dead material. Many of the redwood forests were on steep hillsides, and the redwood buttresses and accompanying root structures were frequently washed away during floods. They ended up in river bottoms, where they stayed (or were carried toward the ocean and deposited on the beaches). Beginning in the 60s (or possibly earlier), enterprising loggers, who no longer had forests to harvest, began using their heavy equipment to haul away these redwood remnants and cut them into slabs.
The wood at the base and roots of any large tree, particularly redwood, is under tremendous stress and deforms, creating extraordinarily figured wood. These out of work loggers found a ready market for this beautiful remnant of the once majestic redwood trees. Many of the stumps are now in protected state forests, so river bottoms, ocean beaches, and occasional private land are the sole sources for redwood stumps.