Drying Black Walnut

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Forum topic by msppilot posted 07-20-2015 06:04 PM 865 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1066 days

07-20-2015 06:04 PM

Hello everybody, My name is Justin and I live in Minnesota. I am just getting into woodworking so I may have some pretty basic questions. This past weekend we had a bad storm and we lost our black walnut tree. I am thinking of keeping some of the wood to make some coasters, a cribbage board, and possibly a cutting board. My questions is, how long should I let the logs/branches dry before cutting them? They are not big enough to make any furniture or anything large, so most items will be relatively small. Thanks for any advice.

7 replies so far

View AZWoody's profile


1346 posts in 1249 days

#1 posted 07-20-2015 06:11 PM

I know for milling lumber, it’s best to cut the logs as fast as you can before any cracking occurs from drying.

If you’re going to wait a while, seal the ends with at least some latex paint to help keep the moisture from escaping too fast.

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 1239 days

#2 posted 07-20-2015 06:11 PM

Are you thinking of drying the logs or are you going to cut them into boards and dry the boards? How big a diameter are we talking here?

Best case scenario you cut them to baords between 3/4 and 2” thick and stack and sticker them for 2-3 years (don’t forget to paint the ends with a latex paint) Logs could take longer depending on how thick they are. You could (depending on how dry your environment is) use them much earlier, as soon as 6 months, however I hold to the 2-3 year rule because the wood is generally pretty stable in all environments by that time.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View wflather's profile


32 posts in 1071 days

#3 posted 07-20-2015 07:06 PM

Rule of thumb I was given for air-drying was 1 year per inch of thickness. I’m also unsure how this would apply to un-milled, bark-on raw wood, but in a chair making workshop I took last year the instructor told us that he has found a log sitting, with bark, for a year still can be considered “green”.
I also suspect that sealing the ends would help reduce waste from checking.

View msppilot's profile


2 posts in 1066 days

#4 posted 07-20-2015 07:22 PM

Thanks everybody for the advice. I was going to try and mill them now so they dry. This is more of a fun project just to see if I can get the look I am looking for. If worse comes to worse and I make a mistake, it’s really not that big of a deal.

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2159 days

#5 posted 07-20-2015 07:22 PM

Wish you posted a pictures of the wood. Depending upon where you live and how you process and store the wood could have usable wood sooner than one year. That rule of thumb of 1 inch per year is just that and not always accurate for all species.

-- Bill

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2715 days

#6 posted 07-21-2015 12:28 AM

If you mill that log into boards no more than 1” thick, stack, and sticker them out of the sun and rain, with decent air circulation, they should be dry enough for your projects in 4-6 months. That “year per inch of thickness” may hold for thick stock but is overkill for 1- 1 1/2” stock.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View rwe2156's profile


2964 posts in 1505 days

#7 posted 07-21-2015 10:49 AM

How you stack it also very important.
Make sure you have a good stable base level and no twist.
Get it up off the ground at least 8”.

I use cement blocks and 4×4’s set the first and last level and put a string to the ones in between.
Your stickers should be at least 3/4” thick and space every 16” or so.
Best to stack in a shed, but if you don’t have one, just a piece of roofing metal or a something on top, but don’t cover the sides you need air flow.

You can get a moisture meter but I usually give my wood a year but I suspect it depends on whether you live in AZ or LA. (I live in FL with high humidity).

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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