Thursday, December 17, 2009


I came across this post on Pursuing Wabi (via Home Design Find) about a wood finishing technique I had never heard of before, shou-sugi-ban, or burnt sugi. From PW: "The finish is based on the discovery by the ancient Japanese that it is harder for something already charcoaled to catch fire again." And apparently, it's water and rot resistant as well.

I immediately started geeking out (and my inner pyromaniac emerged). I would love to see this in real life. All the descriptions I found describing burnt sugi say that it's shade changes depending on the angle you're looking at it. You just can't capture that in a picture. I had to share this discovery with someone, and knew that my husband would just look at me like I'm from another planet (which he did) so I shared the article with my friend Rob, who was appropriately enthused. (Thanks, Rob!) Rob is also my go-to guy for whenever I actually get a chance to test this out. The technique is very simple (burn wood, brush dust, oil), but just to make sure, I found an issue of Popular Mechanics on Google Books that has a slightly more detailed instruction article.

Now, I know I don't have a house, or even a shed, to practice this on, but I can just image this used to build a beautiful picture frame. I'm not sure how well it would work for shelving, with the charcoal and the oiling, but it's something to think about.

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