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Wormy Walnut Bookcase

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Project by JayG46 posted 258 days ago 1198 views 2 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This bookcase was made out of some walnut that had been abandoned over in Ft. Lauderdale. I got about 400 board feet for $1000, which seemed like an awesome deal at the time, but once I got it back to my shop and started looking through it, I found a lot of bad material. There was some twisted pieces, lots of knots, some wormholes and it became clear that this stuff had been abandoned for a reason. Since I bought it off of Craigslist and I live two hours away, I decided to suck it up and make some lemonade out of these lemons.

I sorted through the pile, trying to find some decent stuff and began cutting away the material that was truly unsound, to leave what was merely unsightly.

I squared up a lot of material and laid it out on a large work table, moving pieces around to find similar colors and grain patterns so I could start forming the side panels, shelves, tops and bottoms. There is great variety in this walnut, from the classic chocolatey-colored heart wood, to intense black grain lines to reddish and gray streaks to blonde sapwood. Obviously the best matches were used for the two outside panels and the tops. There is very little consistency throughout the piece, but with the finish applied, it doesn’t jump out.

For maximum portability, it is actually four separate pieces: a base and three independent shelves. There are two dadoed trim pieces that hold the shelves together, which is study enough for my purposes.

Some other details on this piece include a custom step back molding using a 14 degree butterfly spline bit on the router table. My uncle had set it up for a cabinet job he was working on and I thought it would fit nicely. It shows up almost everywhere on the piece, including the base, shelves, middle trim pieces and the top molding. That top molding also includes a 3/8” maple accent that compliments the maple plywood used for the backs of the unit.

I’m pretty happy with the way this turned out, and now I just have to figure out three or four more projects to use up all of this walnut!

Thanks for checking it out.

-- Jay Gargiulo, Naples, FL www.swallowtailwoodcraft.com "Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi





15 comments so far

View mloy365's profile (online now)

mloy365

432 posts in 1754 days


#1 posted 258 days ago

Very nice piece!

-- Mike - Northern Upper Michigan

View Steve Tripp's profile

Steve Tripp

26 posts in 419 days


#2 posted 258 days ago

Looks like you should be able to get some beautiful projects out of that purchase. Excellent lemonade.

-- Steve Tripp, Minneapolis, MN

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile

TCCcabinetmaker

925 posts in 979 days


#3 posted 258 days ago

Really cool, though the term for wormy is pecky, so if you see pecky walnut in the future or any other pecky, you may want to avoid it, though sometimes people like the bug holes.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

2630 posts in 2336 days


#4 posted 258 days ago

Jay,

Your bookcase looks great! Some people actually pay a premium for wormy wood or even “mutilate” premium wood to make it look wormy and distressed. We have a lot of wormy oak and I’ve actually gotten quite good at filling them so they can’t even be seen. (The ones running across the top of the grain are a different story!)

Keep making lemonade!

L/W

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

14878 posts in 1812 days


#5 posted 257 days ago

Nice work, it looks awesome…

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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HillbillyShooter

4475 posts in 916 days


#6 posted 257 days ago

Great looking bookcases, and nice save/utilization of wood that wasn’t exactly what you had expected.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View justoneofme's profile

justoneofme

616 posts in 1104 days


#7 posted 254 days ago

You should be happy Jay! Using your artistic foresight resulted in this very beautiful piece of cabinetry!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9757 posts in 1242 days


#8 posted 254 days ago

“The cause of pecky has often been widely misunderstood. Absolutely no form of animal, insect or worm is responsible at any stage of development, and there is no possibility of the pecking continuing after the [tree] is harvested. Once the tree is cut down, the causative agent itself is destroyed and completely disappears, leaving behind only the characteristic pocketing it formerly created.

Pecking in fact is simply the result of a natural fungus (polyporus amarus) entering older living trees through branch loss or fires that destroy the bark. The live tissues thus exposed invite airborne fungi spores in, to begin the sculpturing process.”

Interesting, learning is great on the LJ tonight. Never heard of wormy walnut or peck before.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View justoneofme's profile

justoneofme

616 posts in 1104 days


#9 posted 253 days ago

That may be very true Smitty … I’ve not read up on ‘pecking’, however I do know that worms can infest old wood (not living). I came across an antique cabinet during my repair and refinishing days. The client noticed this happening over a period of 6 months before contacting me. The holes looked very similar to what Jay’s walnut has experienced, and may have occurred after being milled … while sitting arround waiting to be used.
The cure … because these little bug….s were still active: Dredge the area with a mix of Borax, vinegar and water until the holes were saturated. Wipe the surface dry quickly to prevent exterior damage. It worked … but those pinholes remained to tell their story.

-- Elaine in Duncan

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

15582 posts in 1490 days


#10 posted 253 days ago

That’s a great looking piece and the wood is beautiful.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3682 posts in 1991 days


#11 posted 253 days ago

Looks like ”you made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”!

Good looking case and the worm homes add character too!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9757 posts in 1242 days


#12 posted 253 days ago

I certainly don’t wish to disagree that dead wood can’t be infested. It was the definition on peck that I came across and shared. :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View justoneofme's profile

justoneofme

616 posts in 1104 days


#13 posted 252 days ago

Don’t get me wrong Smitty … I appreciate the sharing process, and the knowledge you gave about peck, which I had never heard about. Goes to show we’re never too old to learn something new!! I also appreciate Jay giving Smitty and I a space for this forum! :)

-- Elaine in Duncan

View JayG46's profile

JayG46

91 posts in 482 days


#14 posted 252 days ago

I certainly welcome the discussion, folks.

Smitty, I’ve only heard “pecky” applied to cypress. What I have is almost certainly worm or insect damage and not fungus. The holes and cavities look much different than the pecky cypress I’ve worked with.

As far as when the damage occurred, it’s hard to tell. It could have been discarded because of the damage or happened while it was sitting. If I had to guess, I would say the latter because on some boards it’s quite extensive and I doubt that any supplier would have sold lumber in that condition.

Thanks as always for the kid words, Elaine.

-- Jay Gargiulo, Naples, FL www.swallowtailwoodcraft.com "Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9757 posts in 1242 days


#15 posted 252 days ago

Ah, pecky = cypress only. Didn’t know that either.

Simple facts are, ensure there aren’t any critters remaining then make something nice. Lemonade, if you will, from lemons. And you did.

:-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

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