Walnut beams

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Forum topic by FancyShoes posted 12-03-2015 08:05 PM 867 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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550 posts in 1331 days

12-03-2015 08:05 PM

I bought 2 pieces of beams for a church I attend, the pastor is wanting a cross made, and the lumber I have a rough sawn, not dried, and is 3” thick, 8” wide and 8’ long. They are pretty straight right now, I really dont want to wait 3 years to dry them, and for a cross it will not have stress on it, question is, when I build it from what it is currently, and use a back board to stabalize it, will it move or dry much that will make it twist or warp or anything I should be aware of before starting the project?

6 replies so far

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2151 days

#1 posted 12-03-2015 08:19 PM

Nice beams.

Long story short: you’ll either have to wait, or have them kiln dried if you can’t. My understanding is that kiln-drying can’t be done immediately, you need the wood to stabilize at around 20-24%. Trying to force things will result in checking, cracking, warping, and twisting.

First things first. Seal the ends and sticker those beams in a dry place off the ground, ideally with some weight on top of them. Get a moisture meter and figure out the current moisture level.

There’s a lot of info out there about DIY solar or incandescent bulb kilns.

Presumably the cross is going to be a permanent part of your church. Seems to me it’s worth it to do it right.

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

View HokieKen's profile


4747 posts in 1106 days

#2 posted 12-03-2015 08:57 PM


If you really have to get it up right away, try to find a way to hang them that doesn’t involve any joinery, screws, nails, glue, etc. In that case, you’re basically just hanging them up to dry rather than stickering them. Walnut is a stable, naturally oily wood so it’s not going to move as much as pine or other soft woods. But it’s most definitely going to move. And if you hang it up while it dries, you’re going to make it worse. But, I guess it’s doable.

If it were me, I’d go get a couple 2X10s and make the cross out of them and hang them up temporarily while the walnut dries. Those beams are too beautiful to risk. Another issue you need to watch is bugs. Walnut harbors some nasty guys and being rough sawn with no curing, there’s a good chance you’ve got some in there.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View rwe2156's profile


2883 posts in 1448 days

#3 posted 12-03-2015 11:11 PM

If was a reasonable $$ I would buy the beams back and have them resawed to 5/4 material.Looks like there’s some nice wood there.

I would find some rough cedar or oak to build the cross.

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

View FancyShoes's profile


550 posts in 1331 days

#4 posted 12-08-2015 07:42 PM

I picked up a beauty of a Delmhorst moisture meter over the weekend. I trsted these walnut pieces, and the readings I got were from 15% to 20%. Im not sure what the moisture contents are from a fresh cut log down to the 10% for in home use. So what does a fresh cut moisture content show?

Here is the meter

View Aj2's profile


1361 posts in 1765 days

#5 posted 12-08-2015 07:51 PM

I wouldn’t even worry about drying them just make the cross just the way the pastor wants and put them up.If they twist a little then it’s gods business.Its his house so he gets final say.

-- Aj

View DrDirt's profile


4423 posts in 3710 days

#6 posted 12-08-2015 08:09 PM

Since time is tight – You will need to BUY some Kiln dried wood.

the beams you have won’t bow like pressure treated 2X4’s but it is going to move a lot as it dries.

So if you build it and hang it up…. things will change from your pastor praising your donation of time and effort to the beautiful cross adorning the sanctuary.

To the rest of the congregation 6 month’s later looking at the bowed and twisted shape saying ’I wouldn’t have Fancy shoes build a dog house….. look at that mess on the wall!’

What you put up there will be your community legacy as a woodworker for all to see.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

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