Lumber Scores! #1: Milling Walnut, Silver Maple, and some mystery logs!

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Blog entry by SalvageCraft posted 01-02-2012 05:06 AM 3364 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Lumber Scores! series Part 2: Massive oak posts and planks from the Coney Island Boardwalk! (Wood gloat!) »

Hey all,

Thanks for checking out my first blog post!
I’ve been collecting logs for the past year or so with the intention of milling and drying them, but only recently got around to it. Most of it is from jobs I’ve done for people cleaning up fallen or storm damaged trees. A bunch of it is from neighbors on my street, too. I know most of the species I have in my log pile, but there are a few mysterious chunks I picked off the curb which could be just about anything. If anyone has suggestions as to what they might be, please chime in!

The ol’ log pile:

Here’s what I think may be some Mulberry:

I planed it down a bit to have a better look at the grain:

Here’s what I think might be Cherry, though it’s a touch burly/crotchy (not sure if that complicates ID’ing):

And finally we’ve got some beautiful walnut grain:

The walnut is from my friend Lou. He brought it up here for me from the Poconos, where it fell down on his family’s property. I’ll have to think of something real good to make it into for him!

I didn’t take closeups of the maple for some reason, but there’s a bit of that, too. There’s also 8 or 10 ash logs out in the log pile I still need to get to, and many more mystery logs! I’ll try to post again when they are milled.

Here’s the pile of slabs from about 20 minutes of milling (I would have done more, but it started raining):

I figure I milled about 15 board feet of nice lumber out of what would otherwise be landfilled or firewood, all for a half hour of work plus maybe a pint of gas and a cup of bar oil for the saw. Next step for me is to paint up the end grain and stick it up in my basement ceiling joists to dry for a few months. In the end, most of it will probably be table legs and cutting boards. I’ll try to keep you posted :)

Thanks for looking!

-- Jesse --

7 comments so far

View jumbojack's profile


1676 posts in 2624 days

#1 posted 01-02-2012 05:34 AM

What did you mill your logs with? I don’t see any apparatus and it looks too good for free hand.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 2526 days

#2 posted 01-02-2012 06:41 AM

Well, it sounds like I should either take that as a big compliment or as a warning that I’m doing something terribly wrong!
I did freehand them. Here’s my method:
I lay the log on top of a big chopping block and place other logs to either side of it to hold it steady. Then I cut a flitch off one side that I want to be the bottom, just enough to give me a flat face to keep it more steady. Rotate the log 90° so the flat face is down, and then use the tip of the bar to scribe a straight line down the log, dividing it into the boards I want. I follow these marks as I rip the log into slabs. All cuts are made as if I were bucking firewood, bu instead of crosscutting or ripping into edge grain, I’m cutting in the same direction as the long grain. The wood fibers just kinda peel out real easy this way. If you start the cut with the bar at about a 25-30 degree angle to the log, the length of the cut as it gets deeper keeps the bar real straight inside the kerf.
I originally planned to get a rip chain and make an alaskan mill, but this works real well for me, so i’ll probably stick with it. It seems cutting into all that end grain with an alaskan mill would be lots more work. If I were milling bigger logs, say 24” or more in diameter, then my technique wouldn’t work so well and I’d definitely have to upgrade!

-- Jesse --

View Don W's profile

Don W

18717 posts in 2568 days

#3 posted 01-02-2012 03:32 PM

well done.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3238 posts in 3713 days

#4 posted 01-03-2012 08:17 AM


We’re pretty blow away by your freehanding! Can’t wait to see more.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View WWilson's profile


106 posts in 3063 days

#5 posted 01-05-2012 07:44 PM

Hey Jesse,

Great work man. Love the use of reclaimed logs… I do the same when the opportunity presents itself. I think your mystery log might be Russian Olive instead of Mullberry? I am no expert but I milled up a log that looks very close to what you showed and was told it was RO. Just my 2 cents.

One other thought – I can’t tell from the picture but if the freshly planed wood has a strong yellow color, it could be Osage Orange… I have some of that too and it is beautiful! I only say that because some of the flecking you can see in the pic reminded me of the Osage I have worked with.

Nice work on the freehand ripping. I use a 3/4” 3TPI blade on my band saw with pretty good results. Infeed and outfeed are a real problem though. I probally need to build some table extensions.

Thanks for sharing!


View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 2526 days

#6 posted 01-06-2012 06:52 AM

I don’t think its either of those species because it’s pretty soft stuff. It has actually gotten even yellower as it continues to dry!
Speaking of osage, I’ve got a couple branch stubs sitting around the shop. They’re not too big, but I’m holding on to them to use for something someday. Perhaps knife handles or a couple wooden spoons. That can be another blog post down the line here :)

-- Jesse --

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 2526 days

#7 posted 01-14-2012 06:13 AM

Update: I was planning to get out and get some video of milling a few more logs today to share with yall…
But, as Friday the 13th would have it, we saw our first day of winter! Instead, here’s a picture of what happens to your fresh milled walnut plank when you leave it in a corner of the shop for a couple weeks and forget to seal up the ends:

“Check” it out!!

Happy new year!

-- Jesse --

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