I've got a whole bunch of black walnut logs - what do I do with them?

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Forum topic by lance98 posted 01-27-2016 03:43 PM 1807 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 850 days

01-27-2016 03:43 PM

Hi All,
Please excuse my inexperience. I’d like to use this black walnut to make things for my home. I have about 15-17 logs, all cut to about an 8’ length. These were beautiful healthy trees growing on ideal ground, I only cut them to clear a pasture for livestock.

They were cut on 10/29/2015(almost 3 months ago). We did not leave leafy branches on them to try and draw out any moisture – they were cut down and all branches cut off immediately.

They have been covered with a tarp outdoors to avoid being rained on/snowed on. I am planning to move them into my dry, airy well ventilated garage in the next few days.

My questions revolve around safely drying and cutting this wood into boards for use. I am planning (so far), to have the mill cut them into 1 and 2 inch thick boards.

Is kiln drying the safest(least risk of warped or twisted boards)?

Can they be dried before forever without kiln drying? And if I go this route, is it best to dry them in a heated, or unheated space?

Should I dry them as logs for a time before I cut them into boards?

Should I purchase a moisture meter to check the moisture content(hopefully they aren’t extremely expensive)?

11 replies so far

View DavidTTU's profile


141 posts in 1634 days

#1 posted 01-27-2016 03:45 PM

Make sure you seal the ends. Lots of people recommend Anchor Seal. This will help prevent checking and should be done asap.

-- -David -- Lubbock, TX

View Julian's profile


1328 posts in 2689 days

#2 posted 01-27-2016 03:52 PM

To my knowledge; it is best to mill the logs into board as soon as possible. Then stack them (off the ground) with stickers in between (for air circulation). Place weight on the top to help prevent warping and twisting. Storing inside would be best and it does not have to be a heated space. Air drying may take a year or more depending on conditions. You can search moisture meters on line and find a less expensive model. Once dried you can send the boards to me. :-)

-- Julian

View TheFridge's profile


9468 posts in 1485 days

#3 posted 01-27-2016 03:54 PM

It’s usually best to seal the ends and then mill it into boards green and sticker them from what I’ve read. Logs will take many years to dry under ideal conditions.

Someone who knows more about it may recommend some thing. I’d probably listen to them.

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

View joey502's profile


535 posts in 1516 days

#4 posted 01-27-2016 04:10 PM

I prefer air dried walnut, it has richer color. Seems to machine better than kiln dried boards. The downfall is it takes a minute or two to air dry the wood, approximately a year for wach inch of thickness.

View lance98's profile


2 posts in 850 days

#5 posted 01-27-2016 04:40 PM

I’m so thrilled to have this lumber. It is absolutely beautiful. I’ll have it sawn up and store it indoors, stickered.

I just checked out the mill yesterday. I was stunned by the number and size of logs they had – some of them were five feet or more in diameter! And there were so many of them stacked up! What a place!

They said they can set up to cut my size logs. it would take less than an hour to cut the logs up, and their cost estimate was around $300. Since it’s an Amish mill, I bet I have to specifically tell them not to cut out the heart wood, and to leave me with some ‘live’ edges so I can use them for a table edge.

I think I might use some of the wood for countertops. It’s so beautiful. I have some Texas red and purple slate for my countertops near the kitchen sink, so the black walnut wouldn’t be subjected to any abuse.

I really would like to finish the wood in a way that would leave its natural appearance as much as possible without any alteration.

Thanks so much for the help!

View jtriggs's profile


180 posts in 3816 days

#6 posted 01-27-2016 05:16 PM

Having dried two walnut trees in my garage I can give this advice. Be sure to cut up some of the poorer quality walnut to use as stickers. Don’t mix species for stickering. You can get some staining.

Sealing the ends is always a good idea. If they are indoors, don’t cover them up. I suggest keeping a fan or two blowing through the stacks for the first few months to get rid of the majority of the moisture or mold can grow on the board surfaces. DAMHIKT

Give the wood a year/inch of thickness to dry, as Joey said. I’ve got some that has been air drying for 5 years and the color is wonderful.

Good luck.

-- Jon --Always remember, never live your life by a motto.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2689 days

#7 posted 01-28-2016 01:55 AM

You don’t state what part of the world you are in and drying times vary with different climates/humidity. Seal the log ends with Anchorseal, stack, and sticker, get a cheap moisture meter (~$25), and check every few weeks until the MC stops going down. Where I live, walnut 4/4 dries to 15% in 90-120 days. That “year per inch of thickness” doesn’t hold true for thinner stock but may be accurate for 8/4 and thicker stock.

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

View WDHLT15's profile


1743 posts in 2474 days

#8 posted 01-28-2016 01:30 PM

Walnut dries fast. I am with Andy. Here in Georgia, walnut will air dry down to 15% in 120 days with good air flow. I would sticker the lumber with dry stickers on a solid, level foundation under a shed or under a purpose made roof over the stack with the sides open. There has to be room on all sides of the stack, the top, and the bottom for air to circulate. I would not use an enclosed space except as a last resort. You need lots of air flow and air exchange to remove the evaporating moisture.

Cut and dry the lumber versus leaving in log form. Once air dry, you can sticker in a heated and cooled (climate controlled) space, and the lumber will dry down further to below 10% in about 4 – 6 weeks.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5120 posts in 1719 days

#9 posted 02-12-2016 04:09 PM

I’ve got a few walnut logs that need to be milled, a couple were cut two years ago, and four or five were cut 8 months ago. The two older ones are too big for me to manhandle onto my bandsaw even if I first cut them into cants with my chainsaw, they’d be about 22” square by ~7’ long. the smaller ones (12” – 14” diameter x 7’) wouldn’t be too bad after cutting two sides perpendicular to each other to ride on the table and fence. My question is, do you think I’ll have any issues with these as they’ve been outside and off the ground without having the ends sealed with anything? They’ve gotten wet a few times when the loose fitting tarp has blown off, but don’t regularly see much precipitation. None have shown any signs of rot as of yet.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5659 posts in 2812 days

#10 posted 02-12-2016 04:28 PM

It’s really important that the initial air drying be done outside. I use a three-sided shed specifically for this purpose, but you can stack and sticker it outside with a sheet of plywood on top. The idea is to keep rain off the top, while leaving the stack open to the wind.

If you air dry it inside, the fans will need to operate 24/7, and unless you run a dehumidifier any cast iron tools can rust. I always air dry outside, then bring it inside and enclose the stack in a DIY kiln. All you need are some fans, a household dehumidifier, and a heat source. This type of low temp DH kiln will not degrade the color of walnut. That is only a problem with high temp steam kilns.

Good luck with it.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View WDHLT15's profile


1743 posts in 2474 days

#11 posted 02-13-2016 02:19 AM


There may be some degrade in the sapwood, but walnut heartwood is very rot resistant. I bet that the older logs will saw out with beautiful color with maybe some loss of sapwood. Post a pic when you get it sawn.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

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