Wood Collection - Thuya Burl

11-03-2023 16:31 By Hamza Khadrouf


Used since the days of Solomon and David when it was called thyine wood, Thuya is one of the few woods mentioned in the Bible, referenced by John in the Book of Revelation. Popular during King David’s reign, it became a favorite among the cultural aristocracy. The Greeks named it Thuya, meaning sacrifice, because they used an oil distilled from it as incense in their religious ceremonies. Some churches still use it today. As sandarac oil, Tetraclinis articulata oil is valued for medicinal uses.

Thuya Burls are as beautiful as they are fragrant and the Greeks and Romans vied with each other over furniture made from them. The powerful men of those ancient times had two great ambitions: to be a dictator and to own what was a Thuya Burl table to a Greek, a citron burl or thyine wood table to a Roman. It is said that the wife of Cicero owned a thyine burl table costing the equivalent of hundreds thousand dollars.


Thuya trees, along with cedars and oaks, once covered the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, but because of over cutting, large areas have been treeless for hundreds of years. For centuries the native peoples started fires whenever they wanted to clear tracts of land. Such clearing caused great destruction, but paradoxically, also caused burls of beautiful character to form on the roots of burned Thuya trees.

Found in the Atlas Mountains and nowhere else on earth, finding these rare burls is no mean feat; never very large, and with hardly a stump to guide the searcher, a plow must be used to unearth them. Grubbed out, most of the burls find their way to Europe, mainly France.

Wood Character

Thuya Burl is fairly firm and dense with a high oil content, but tends to be brittle. Its color varies from a rich, lustrous golden brown to nearly black. The eyes, perfectly round, are scattered about in some burls like the figure in bird’s-eye maple; in others they are grouped as islands. Thuya Burl is easily finished with wax or an oil and varnish mixture. Due to its oily nature, polyurethane finishes may remain tacky for some time. The oily wood can also clog finer abrasives when sanding. An exquisite wood, Thuya Burl is used for inlays, small boxes, turnery, knife & pistol handles, jewelry boxes, and precious objects.

Needless to say, Thuya Burl is a special wood. The Thuya tree is threatened due to overexploitation for fuel wood use. This makes the burls extremely scarce. Prices at GWC start at $25/lb, depending on size, figure, and amount of defects.


Thuya wood comes from an evergreen softwood tree species. Timber from a thuya tree’s burl is famed for its aroma, deep color and swirl-like grain. 

It is perfect for unique handicraft projects. However, the population of this tree species is small, as the trees are rare and under much exploitation. 

That makes thuya wood timber rather unsustainable. Still, it is important to note that wood is better for the environment than plastic, especially when sourced from sustainably managed forests.

To understand the sustainability of thuya wood, we assess the life-cycle of thuya wood in household items like a box or an earring. This life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a method to evaluate the environmental impacts of each stage in a product’s life-cycle, from the making to the recycling. 

Over the years, companies have strategically used LCA to research and create more sustainable products. 

In this article, we’ll use the cradle-to-grave perspective of the LCA, examining the five stages of the life cycle of thuya wood. 

We’ll say that it is very difficult to source sustainable thuya burl wood. Yet, the actual environmental impact of a particular product depends on many factors, especially the distance and mode of transportation. Let’s dive deeper into each stage and find out how it can be more sustainable. 

How Sustainable is the usage of the Thuya Burl

Using thuya wood items can be sustainable thanks to the carbon capture during the product life. Thuya wood is considered durable with high resistance to insect attacks. It means that items made with thuya wood, especially the harder burl wood, can last for many years under normal usage. 

When thuya wood is decayed, either naturally in the forest or because of damage caused by usage at home, the carbon stored in the wood is released back to the atmosphere. Therefore, long-lasting furniture can be considered a good way of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. If the wood is then reclaimed for making another piece of furniture, its positive carbon storage environmental impact is even higher. 

The end-of-life stage for thuya wood furniture is sustainable when the wood is reused or burned as bioenergy. There are a few scenarios for wood products – veneer or decorative boxes – at the end of their life: 

  • They can end up in landfills and don’t decompose. In this case, it keeps its role as carbon storage
  • Wood products can also be upcycled and reused, extending their role as carbon storage and reducing the fossil CO2 emitted as much as four times when comparing, for example, a recovered hardwood flooring with a new one. New wood products often travel much further to their markets, compared with recovered wood products. The latter is typically made in urban centers and sold locally, which lowers the transportation environmental burdens. 
  • In another end-of-life scenario, products like a thuya wood box can be burned for biomass energy displacing coal or natural gas in generating electricity

With smaller items, the offset won’t be as high as there is much less waste for burning. However, if such products are made from wood waste as by-products, their carbon footprint is minimal. 

Our Thuya Products

We at Kendila take all the necessary measures to import and use thuya wood that is sustainably harvested. We also try to give a second life to small parts left after each production by making beautiful gadget and home accessories.

Visit our Etsy shop and pick your favourite accessory Here

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