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Dream Burls Interview

Discussion in 'Life on the Edge' started by Toothpick, Apr 9, 2014.

  1. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

    Greetings everyone! It is with great excitement that I present to you the first of many Vendor Interviews here at the KKFora. Here is your chance to learn a little more about Dream Burls. Myron graciously took time away from the workshop to answer a few questions for us and we truly appreciate him doing this for everyone here. Below is some fantastic insight in to his business. Kindly devote a few minutes and enjoy the interview!
    [​IMG]Who are you? Where are you located?
    [​IMG]My name is Myron Ronis and I'm located in NYC with a home in the Hudson Valley as well. I'm married to my wife of 19 years, Anita, and we have a cat named Charlie. I graduated college with a Bachelor of Architecture and worked in the public sector for 34 years before retiring 9 years ago.

    [​IMG]How did Dream Burls get started?
    [​IMG]The Dream Burls journey started about 2 years ago when a friend of mine made some negative comments on the kitchen knives we had and I decided to buy my wife a new set for Christmas. I wound up buying her a set of Shuns, which she loves by the way, but I also found Kitchen Knife Forum and decided to have a custom Gyuoto made for me. I got in touch with Marko and decided to supply the wood for the handle myself. That's when I fell in love with burled wood. After months of buying single blocks and consulting with Marko on the finer points of the business of wood, I came up with a business plan for Dream Burls and set out to create my own web site and generate an inventory. The rest, as they say, is history.

    [​IMG] Are you a one man army or do you have a support team?
    [​IMG]I operate Dream Burls on my own, although my wife has to put up with me and is my greatest supporter.

    [​IMG] What is Burled wood? And what makes it appealing for making knife handles?
    [​IMG]A burl results from a tree undergoing some form of stress. It may be caused by an injury, virus or fungus. They appear as bulbous growths protruding from the truck, major branches or root systems.
    Burls are prized by handles makers and many other types of wood workers for their extraordinary beauty and stability. Given their complex grain patterns they are more resistant to lateral expansions.


    [​IMG] What is the strangest/oddest request you've ever received from a customer, if any?
    [​IMG]I can't say that I've ever gotten a strange or odd request from a customer. If I did I would try to do whatever they wanted, as long as it was legal of course. My customers mean everything to me and customer service is more important than anything.

    [​IMG]Have you traveled to any exotic places in search of wood?
    [​IMG]Not yet. I've only been at this a little over a year. The bulk of my product comes from vendors on the internet and some lumber yards in the Hudson Valley. The scale of my operation and my equipment is such that I try to be a boutique style store that sells a nice mix of high quality, unusual pieces as well as more traditional species. I would love to take a road trip and go exploring for burled slabs.

    [​IMG] What tools do you use to create the finished burls?
    [​IMG]Since I'm buying slabs that have already been cut, the first tools I use are rulers and squares to lay out my cutting patterns on the slabs. Then it's off to the bandsaw, a 17" Grizzly. After that it's sanding, sanding and more sanding which I do with an oscillating sander and 4"x24" belts. Finishing is all done by hand.

    [​IMG]What tool is your favorite?

    [​IMG]I guess the bandsaw is because that's when I really start to see how the blanks will turn out. I spend most of my time sanding, so if I didn't like that I'd be in the wrong business. I also enjoy using my camera to take pictures of the finished products because that's the first thing a customer sees so it needs to be as accurate as possible.

    [​IMG]Can you describe the stabilizing process and agent?
    [​IMG]There are many agents to stabilize wood. I only send my stock to Knife and Gun Finishing Supplies for stabilization. Theirs is a process of impregnating wood under pressure with a chemical formula made up of monomers and acrylics to produce a dimensionally stable piece. The pressure allow the chemical to penetrate deep into the cells of the wood. K&G uses tubes that are about 6" in diameter and two feet long for this application.

    [​IMG] Are you able to estimate the potential of a piece of burl/wood without seeing a cut/wetted surface?
    [​IMG]I can, and I'm getting better at it with experience. Since most of the wood I buy is from the internet, sellers typically wet or otherwise apply a finish to pop the grain. Burls can be tricky though, especially on the inside where voids can form and not been seen until cut open. One of the things I love about this business is that you really never know what a finished piece will look like until it's done. The good news is that they typically turn out better that what you imagine.


    [​IMG] Is there a wood you really like but have a hard time sourcing?
    [​IMG]I have two favorites: Ironwood Burl and Wild Almond Burl. Ironwood is getting scarcer each year, but there is still plenty around although prices keep rising and the quality keeps dropping. Wild Almond is also available, but it's getting harder and harder for me to find good solid pieces with great figure. Cherry Burl is another amazing wood that I just don't see much of and Rosewood Burls are just so expensive I hardly ever look for them anymore. I'm always on the lookout for the next species that will grab my attention and hopefully my customers'.

    [​IMG]Is there any wood you choose not to work with due to health reasons or other reasons?
    [​IMG]No, at least not yet. The bandsaw I use has an excellent dust collection system and I always wear a respirator when I'm sanding. I've been lucky in that I don't seem to be sensitive to normally toxic woods like Cocobolo, Ebony, Teak and others. I'm also very careful when I work with Wenge as their splinters can be very toxic and go septic if not remove immediately. I understand that some of these allergies occur with exposure over time so I guess I'll keep taking precautions and see what happens over the years. There are some woods that are illegal to ship outside of the USA and others that are on endangered species lists and I'm paying more attention to that as my business matures.
    Can you guesstimate the cross cut section of a tree or block if wood by examining the outside of it?
    [​IMG]Not with burled woods, as they are actually appendages that grow off from the trunk and do not have growth rings per se. For figured woods I guess you could use the end grain to calculate that if you knew the age of the wood. It's a lot easier to look up the standard growth size for any particular species if you want to know that.

    [​IMG]Would you like to add any final words for the members of KKFora?
    [​IMG]The more I learn about the world of knives the more I appreciate the craftsmanship and dedication of knife makers and the devotion and enthusiasm of knife collectors. I am proud to be a member of this community which time and time again has not only shown me a profound level of knowledge and commitment, but also a deep sense of compassion for, and sharing with, those within this fellowship. My thanks to Jim and this new KKF for giving me another venue to share and enjoy our mutual passion.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2014
  2. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

  3. James

    James smarter then your average duck Founding Member Gold Contributor

    Great read, thanks guys for putting that together
  4. Well done both of you.
  5. Spaz

    Spaz Founding Member

    Very enjoyable read, well done!
  6. Dave Martell

    Dave Martell Professional Craftsman Founding Member

  7. PierreRodrigue

    PierreRodrigue Tactical Walrus Founding Member

    Nicely done! Well done guys!
  8. Jeffery Hunter

    Jeffery Hunter Founding Member

    Enjoyable and informative read thanks guys!
  9. Intrigued

    Intrigued Founding Member

    Thank you both so much for taking the time to put this together! [​IMG]
  10. apathetic

    apathetic Founding Member

    That was a good read
  11. Haburn

    Haburn Founding Member

    Nice interview Toothpick and Myron.
  12. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

  13. John Fout

    John Fout Founding Member

    Good stuff guys!
  14. William Catcheside

    William Catcheside Founding Member

    Nicely done and a great read, well done chaps.
  15. marc4pt0

    marc4pt0 Founding Member

    Really cool read guys. It's nice to be able to "meet" these guys. Looking fwd to more interviews!
  16. Love this! Thank you for sharing with us :)
  17. Dream Burls

    Dream Burls Founding Member

    Hey everyone. I know it's been a while since this interview was posted, but I wanted to thank all of you who took the time to read it and to those who posted a comment on it.

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