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View HokieMojo's profile

tips for buying black walnut

by HokieMojo
posted 03-20-2008 03:41 PM


24 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15706 posts in 2914 days


#1 posted 03-20-2008 03:44 PM

If it has been sitting in a barn , stickered, for 10 years, it is certainly dry. There is not much else you need to know, in my opinion. I’d buy as much as I could afford and/or had room to store.

Don’t worry about how it looks in rough sawn condition. Trust me…. if it is black walnut, it will be gorgeous when smoothed and finished.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Russel's profile

Russel

2199 posts in 2635 days


#2 posted 03-20-2008 03:46 PM

Be careful. I got a deal on some Black Walnut a few months back … it’s addictive. The only thing I can tell you is to check the amount of sapwood (the light stuff). Too much you’ll be scrapping a lot of wood. Beyond that, I haven’t seen ugly walnut so if I were in your shoes, I’d get me some of that.

-- Working at Woodworking http://www.VillageLaneFurniture.com

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15706 posts in 2914 days


#3 posted 03-20-2008 03:48 PM

And Russel, even the sapwood issue is a matter of personal preference. No need to scrap it if you like the look.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Russel's profile

Russel

2199 posts in 2635 days


#4 posted 03-20-2008 03:49 PM

Very true, Charlie, very true.

-- Working at Woodworking http://www.VillageLaneFurniture.com

View jerry118's profile

jerry118

22 posts in 2436 days


#5 posted 03-20-2008 04:03 PM

Even the sapwood can be salvaged. Soak some nuts or a lot of the shell material in al little water and after a week or two strain out the chunks. use the liquid instead of a stain and you will find it difficult to tell it is sapwood.

-- Jerry, Wichita KS

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15706 posts in 2914 days


#6 posted 03-20-2008 04:14 PM

Interesting tip, Jerry!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2103 posts in 2424 days


#7 posted 03-20-2008 04:38 PM

Wow guys. I didn’t expet responses so fast. I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what I’ll use this for, but since I’m just learning, I tend to choose my projects based on learning a new skill, not on what I’d just like to build (although it does need to serve some purpose as a gift or as something for the home).

I have to admit, I’m very excited about this chance to buy some new material. I actually enjoy buying lumber (even the little I’ve bought in the past) more than buying tools. I’ll proabbly pick up a little bit of cherry too, but we’ll see what I can afford.

Charlie—I looked at some of your past projects and the walnut/cherry box stood out to me. you certainly seem to know your way around a shop.

Russel—I saw the walnut/maple music stand you built and I think I’ve got the idea for what I want to build. It certainly won’t be as intricate, but I may look into some kind of coat tree. If I can’t some up with a design i like using a square post, maybe some other wall mounted coat rack to try a few new joints.

jerry—Thanks for the tip on finishing. I have no idea what I’m going to see when I show up there, so I may end up giving your idea a try depending on what is available.
Thanks again!

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1281 posts in 2433 days


#8 posted 03-20-2008 05:20 PM

You will also want to check all of the boards very carefully. Beetles like walnut. It depends on what part of the country you live and where the walnut came from. I have seen and gotten some walnut in the past that was full of beetles. I ended up burning or throwing it out. One must always be careful when purchasing wood. I do not mean to scare you, just make you aware of potential problems. Air dried wood can have some of the best colors and shimmer. It has something to do with the slower process of drying. Anyway, have fun building with walnut. It is a beautiful wood. John

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3966 posts in 2759 days


#9 posted 03-20-2008 05:49 PM

John’s two comments are right on. Beware of holes with little piles of sawdust, indicative of the powder post beetle.

Air dried walnut has a wide variance of red and purple accents, excellent shimmer etc. Nothing like the steamed gray ukkiness of big box walnut. I think it’s well worth getting as long as you look it over carefully.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Dooley's profile

Dooley

85 posts in 2418 days


#10 posted 03-20-2008 06:22 PM

I would also suggest getting your hands on as much of that walnut you can store. I may be a bit bias though because its my favorite wood. The workability of walnut is right where I like it, and the finish is awesome.

Interesting side note if I may, check out this story about a black walnut, pretty funny.

http://www.forestrycenter.org/headlines.cfm?refID=74753

-- Dooley

View GMoney's profile

GMoney

158 posts in 2499 days


#11 posted 03-20-2008 07:42 PM

dooley, very interesting article. thanks for the link.

-- Greg, CT

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 2601 days


#12 posted 03-20-2008 09:23 PM

You don’t have to throw away/dye/stain the sapwood…shame on you guys ! Just use some imagination.

-- http://nelsonwoodworks.biz/

View joey's profile

joey

396 posts in 2600 days


#13 posted 03-20-2008 10:57 PM

What is walnut going for in your guys area, here I can get 4/4 for $4.35 a bft and 5/4 for $4.90 bft

Joey

-- Joey~~Sabina, Ohio http://sleepydogwoodworking.blogspot.com/

View Catspaw's profile

Catspaw

236 posts in 2511 days


#14 posted 03-21-2008 12:19 AM

The biggest thing we’ve found right now is there is nothing left that’s wide. If you can get ahold of anything over 10-12” it’s at a real premium.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2103 posts in 2424 days


#15 posted 03-21-2008 04:20 AM

Thanks everyone for your responses. I’ll be sure to check for any small holes caused by beetles. The wood was moved from one spot to another though, so checking for sawdust may be a challenge. I assume any dust would have been knocked off as soon as theboards were moved.

Daren—I like your joints with the alternating wood colors in the dovetails.

joey—I think walnut around here costs about what you said. I’m thinking that I could get this for under 3.00 per board foot with the individual I’m talking too. 25% off is enough of a deal to get me interested.

I’ll have to keep my eyes open to see if he’s got any particularly wide boards, but I think he said it is mostly just 6-8 inches wide. As long as it is straight, that is perfectly fine for my needs. Thanks again for all this advice and please keep posting if you have more guidance. I have a couple more days to learn before plunking down my long saved money. Thanks!

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2103 posts in 2424 days


#16 posted 03-21-2008 02:48 PM

I take it back. I think it is actually running around $6 per foot here.

View Boardman's profile

Boardman

157 posts in 2457 days


#17 posted 03-21-2008 03:56 PM

It sounds like you happened upon an absolutely great deal. Air dried walnut is the best kind to get because it yeilds the best color. Air dried will have color variations across the boards, with even hints of red and purple. And it seems to work easier than kiln dried. The best method for walnut is to air dry it until it reaches an ambient moisture level for your region of the country – usually 10-12%. Then it can be kiln dried if you choose. Walnut kiln dried right off the tree is always duller looking with less variation. And steaming it to drive the color into the sapwood absolutely ruins it. Check out the walnut at your local BORG – it’s almost surely steamed and has a very uniform sickly grayish/brown color.

I don’t know where you’re located, but walnut coloration varies greatly by region of the country. I’m not sure if it’s the soil composition or what, but Iowa walnut is generally regarded as the best for color.

And even if it’s got knots don’t worry. There’s usually great grain pattern around knot areas.

View Karson's profile

Karson

34891 posts in 3096 days


#18 posted 03-21-2008 04:21 PM

Walnut is a premium wood. And it doesn’t grow any more. At least in the sizes that used to be available.

Market prices go up and down, but as long as you are not paying the upper market range, you will never go wrong in purchasing Walnut, or Cherry. Some is beautifully figured and other is plain sawn but it all looks great.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Woodwayze's profile

Woodwayze

63 posts in 2781 days


#19 posted 03-22-2008 01:22 AM

Those ‘dovetails’ look like they’re impossible to put together…
~chuckle~..
Nice looking stool . Now I know what to do with the center-boards of English Walnut I have in my backyard in stick!

When I’ve finished it, I’ll post it.
Regards
John

-- Working fast helps you to arrive at your mistakes in spectacular fashion. (Me 2009!)

View Woodwayze's profile

Woodwayze

63 posts in 2781 days


#20 posted 03-22-2008 01:29 AM

Talking of price, the stuff I have could be an investment if I wanted to sell it. I paid approx £30.00 for it. Today Walnut runs to more than twice that. Maybe £85.00 ( $170.00 ) a cube-foot..

I know you measure your timber differently over the pond, so that’s a 12 foot board of 12” x 1”; I think that would be 12 board feet of 12×1? Is that right? Anyhow, that’s if you can still get 12” wide English walnut!

John

-- Working fast helps you to arrive at your mistakes in spectacular fashion. (Me 2009!)

View barlow's profile

barlow

129 posts in 2436 days


#21 posted 03-22-2008 05:27 AM

Most walnut is steamed to darken the color and mellow the sap wood being air dried there may be a harsh color difference. However walnut is one of the nicest woods to work with, its naturally oily and takes a glass like finish. I develop pallets of shorts of walnut which i have for sale also by the piece so if anyone is interested leave me a message.

-- barlow

View dirtclod's profile

dirtclod

169 posts in 2556 days


#22 posted 03-24-2008 12:41 AM

HokieMojo,
Walnut puts off most critters so infestations are rare. Ppbs, if they’re in there, will be active on warmer days and it won’t take long for sawdust piles to reappear.

Everything else about buying walnut is standard fare (cup, bow, checks, twist,etc..)

That is a interesting looking stool. I like how it appears both natural and formal at the same time. And them joints leave you scratching your head.

I would be pleased to get $5.00 a bf for the wide walnut we just milled:




More photos here:
http://lumberjocks.com/topics/1319#reply-27742

These photos were taken within a few days of milling so the walnut has not darkened with age. It looks much darker now. And the pile has grown a couple of feet. There may be 10-15 boards in the stack 9-11”+. Some of them may be 12’ long. (The last photo is all 12’.) I’ll try to get the shorts milled this week. I’ve got maybe ten 4’ logs, some full of crotches. I’ll make some turning blanks as well. Got 1 more 8’ log to do. And will be making a few more wide 8’ and some extra-wide (maybe 16”) 4’ lengths. And I hope to add 1 more tree (six 8’ logs + shorts) sometime soon. Also have some stumps, a antique, knarly, dead standing walnut and old walnut logs to recover. I’m happy doing it but I sure would like to sell some.

-- Wonderful new things are coming! - God

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2103 posts in 2424 days


#23 posted 03-24-2008 02:33 AM

Let me just say thanks to everyone for their advice. I have a honda civic, but loaded my car up with about 80bf of lumber yesterday. All of it is about 1 inch think rough sawn. It’s not perfect, but I think I can get a lot of usable material out of it. I think my next project is going to be looking around this website for some ideas on the best way to use it. I would really like to create a cabinet for my murphy bed (wall bed) to reside. I’ll try to post some photos soon of what I purchased. It really isn’t much to look at right now, but I fed a small piece through a planer and the face cleaned up quite nicely. I’ll create a new thread when I’ve got some pics. Thanks again, you helped me with a great find!

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 2601 days


#24 posted 03-24-2008 02:42 AM

I would be pleased to get $5.00 a bf for the wide walnut we just milled:” That is about what I get for walnut like this. (my avatar) $5 bft. The most expensive walnut I have 4/4 is 18” wide 1/4 sawn and perfect…that runs $7. (5/4, 6/4…8/4 go up accordingly of course) Most of my walnut leaves the door at $3 average.

-- http://nelsonwoodworks.biz/

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