Preparing large walnut slabs

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Forum topic by shampeon posted 12-03-2015 01:47 AM 945 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1705 posts in 1600 days

12-03-2015 01:47 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wood slabs walnut air-drying wood checking

Howdy, lumberjocks. I took a little break after moving to settle into my new place, set up my new shop, and deal with a kindergartner and preschooler, but now that I’m settled, I’m getting back into some long-standing projects.

Here’s a big one. These are going to be my new dining room table, eventually.

I got two of these large walnut slabs last weekend from a local guy. Came from a backyard tree that had grown too close to the eaves of the house. They cut and milled the tree last August into 2.5” thick slabs, and I bought two of the big ones. About 8’ long and 20-23” wide. They’ve been air-drying since then outdoors in a roofed patio, and are now in my garage, stickered. I’m going to move them to a more permanent part of the garage and stack some more stickered lumber on top for weight. This is my first project involving large slabs.

The ends are sealed, and there’s a little bit of checking on the back-side of one of the pieces.

The biggest concern is two rotten spots in the middle of the back-side. I poured in some denatured alcohol to hopefully kill any beasties.

Given that it’s going to take another year or so to dry, what should I be doing about the rotten parts and the checking?

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

26 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


5671 posts in 903 days

#1 posted 12-03-2015 01:56 AM

Rotten don’t know. Checking, not much you can do I believe.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Aj2's profile


623 posts in 1215 days

#2 posted 12-03-2015 02:08 AM

Get rid of the bark I may attract more beasties.Nice looking slabs.

View 7Footer's profile (online now)


2520 posts in 1365 days

#3 posted 12-03-2015 02:22 AM

Not sure about what to do, those are some sweet looking slabs though… Also it’s good to see you back on lj’s, welcome back Shamp!


View conifur's profile


955 posts in 569 days

#4 posted 12-03-2015 02:24 AM

More Alcohol, and let it be character of the wood, nothing is the same/constant in nature.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View Gerbah_from_Boston's profile


13 posts in 325 days

#5 posted 12-03-2015 02:26 AM

A couple beers per night helps the wait go faster. But that’s in general. Specific to your question, I’d say watch the areas around the rot for small wood piles indicating beasties might be active. If so…get it out of your house man! I think you’re probably good with the alcohol though. For extra precaution you might try to seal off the area to air by wrapping it in plastic wrap. Ain’t no beasties can live without oxygen. Other option is to drop a granade in the hole and duck for cover. May result in a more distressed looking table than you’re looking for though.

View Gerbah_from_Boston's profile


13 posts in 325 days

#6 posted 12-03-2015 02:31 AM

Also just realized, maybe you could seal them in epoxy Jurassic Park style. Not Jurassic World, that movie barely holds water compared to the original. So. First, alcohol, second, plastic wrap, third epoxy, 4th grenade in the hole.

View bondogaposis's profile


3969 posts in 1768 days

#7 posted 12-03-2015 02:42 AM

Nothing you can do, except seal the ends, stack and sticker. Drink beer and enjoy your kids.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View shampeon's profile


1705 posts in 1600 days

#8 posted 12-03-2015 03:04 AM

Ok, sounds like I’m on the rightish track with the DNA. And patience. sigh

Is there a better tool or technique for bark removal than my drawknife?

And 7Footer, thanks for the welcome back. Good to see some familiar faces around still.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View oltexasboy1's profile


240 posts in 1121 days

#9 posted 12-03-2015 03:17 AM

For the bug holes, again pour them full of alcohol and top them with melted paraffin. seals out oxygen kills bugs.
Drill a small hole at the end of the check and put a (large)butterfly across the check. It will hold the wood together after you relieve the stress with the drilled holes. Don’t glue it with anything but hide glue ,it is reversible with heat and water later. Good luck but remember not everything works like we would like for it too, make the best out of what the wood gives you.

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

View Pezking7p's profile


3097 posts in 1068 days

#10 posted 12-03-2015 03:20 AM

Welcome back, Shamp!

Drawknife is perfect for debarking. Knowing nothing about wood rOT like that I would consider marking the area so you can monitor if it’s growing or not.

Re: patience. You could make a little solar kiln to speed along the drying process. I think I read that you can dry lumber in a month or two? But you could also drink all those beers and work on dining chairs in the mean time.

-- -Dan

View Tim's profile


3029 posts in 1378 days

#11 posted 12-03-2015 03:25 AM

And 7Footer, thanks for the welcome back. Good to see some familiar faces around still.

- shampeon

Indeed, good to see you back and glad you’re settled.

Is there a better tool or technique for bark removal than my drawknife?
- shampeon

There may be, but a drawknife works really well for it. A dull one actually works a little easier, especially when the wood is very green since it doesn’t dig in, but a sharp one works pretty quickly too.

View mahdee's profile


3454 posts in 1184 days

#12 posted 12-03-2015 03:48 AM

That is not a bug hole rather it is a water rot and more likely it is connected to the nut hole or caused by it were the branch broke off. I doubt you will find any bugs in the middle. Once the rotted spot dries up, you will notice most of the rotted area will turn into fine powder. Dig that powder out and save it because it is the finest and darkest walnut powder you can find. I have done cherry inlays in these situations and it blends in very well. This one was totally rotted in the middle.


View Don W's profile

Don W

17870 posts in 1985 days

#13 posted 12-03-2015 11:03 AM

Welcome back Shamp. You can seal them in plastic and add some heat to kill any creatures.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View theoldfart's profile


7932 posts in 1868 days

#14 posted 12-03-2015 12:23 PM

Ian, good to have you back. I can’t add anything to the above, no experience with slabs.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View dhazelton's profile


2283 posts in 1714 days

#15 posted 12-03-2015 12:46 PM

I think that’s just where an intersecting branch was torn away, but if it scares you just sprinkle some Boric Acid on there.

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